Study Abroad Guide,  Travel Advice

How I Afford to Travel on a College Budget

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One-I Have a Job

The amount of people who ask me about how I afford to travel that also don't have a job is a little frightening.  Though it might not seem like it all the time, I DO in fact have a job, and contrary to popular belief, I work a lot.  Currently I am a full time student (17 credit hours), and I work probably somewhere between 20-30 hours a week on top of this.  I stay busy.  And yes, I am often drained and stressed, but it's all worth it as soon as I board that next flight.

Two-My Job Lets Me Travel

Not only do I have this magical thing called a job that brings in a measly income, I choose jobs that let me travel.  Throughout college I worked for a nanny agency, which allowed me to pick up babysitting shifts that fit my schedule, and when I need off, I can take off, for either a few days, a few weeks, or a few months.  The job has always been there when I came back and I love it, plus hanging out with some babies never makes for a bad day.

I also work for my parents when I come home as a deck hand on their boat the Schooner Freedom.  I make minimum hourly wage plus tips, and let me tell you, having a job with a cash flow is so nice when you're in college and trying to save money.  Also thanks to working for my parents, I also have started my 401k which I don't totally understand but I know it's a good thing, especially at my age.

I also make a tiny bit of money from blogging through affiliates, and I plan on starting up a small business soon.  It's not much, but it's a start.

My other (soon to be full time) job is working as a freelance social media manager.  I currently manage accounts for The Tab, Schooner Freedom, CloudSDS, and in the past have done online marketing for FlorenceForFun and Campus Florence among others.  

I brand for both my blog and myself as a professional as well, so it's something I'm good at.  There are tons of sites out there to find freelance work, and get going.  If you can be on a computer and be mobile, that is one of the best ways to be able to work and travel at the same time.

I Don't Spend My Money on Stupid Sh*t

Okay think of what you've bought this week.  Dinner out? How many times? Once? Twice? That probably cost you anywhere from $30-$50 if you drank.  Did you go out with friends?  How much was that? $20? $30?  Did you buy something at Target you really didn't need?  Did you do some online shopping?  Did you buy all of the name brand items at the grocery store, or did you stick to generic brands?  Really think about the money you spend and STOP SPENDING IT!  If you want to travel you have to save, and that means NOT SPENDING MONEY.  If you want to hang out with your friends, do things that are free, or require the least amount of money possible.

It's hard at first to not spend money, but once you get into the groove of it, you realize how much money you were spending before and it's actually a bit frightening.

Instead of looking at things like "Oh, I only spent $150 shopping today!" I think, "Well I could spend this $150 on clothes, or I could not and book a domestic flight instead."  It's all about perspective. 

I Get Really Good Deals

Let's be real guys. I'm on a college student budget, I promise you my travels are not lavish and luxurious.  Sure sometimes I will splurge and get a private room in a hostel instead of sharing the dorms.  Or if I'm traveling with my boyfriend we will sometimes get an entire apartment for a weekend instead of renting a room.  Let me be clear though, I budget travel.  This doesn't mean I don't have fun and don't do all the things people with tons of money do, this means I do my research ahead of time to figure out how I can get the most bang for my buck.  If you go into something blind, of course you're going to miss out, so doing your research before you travel is super important.  Not only that, but also when it comes to booking flights, I am such a haggler, and always always always seek out the best deal ~almost~ before anything else.  

I Cut Out the Unnecessary

I cut out any and every bill I can.  I cancelled my Netflix and Hulu subscriptions (shoutout to my brother for letting me mooch of his Netflix), and I eliminated other unnecessary things in life as well.  When I moved back from Italy in December I decided that posting up in my college town for 3 1/2 slash 4 months wasn't something I wanted to do when my parents only live 45 minutes to an hour away from my campus.  Sure the drive sucks, but factor in $400 a month rent for four months...that's $1600 at least.  Sure, it's not the most glamorous thing, but I get work done, and it keeps me from spending money in more ways than just rent.  I don'y buy groceries, I don't really eat out, because my mom is ~probably~ going to have cooked already, and not to mention all the other little things parents just buy (like toothpaste, soap, toilet paper, cable TV, Wifi, etc).
Realtalk: I obviously cannot live like this forever.  But it's a great interim phase for me and I always know that after my travels I have somewhere to come back to, no matter how much more my room has become more like a storage closet and less like my bedroom.  I am fortunate, but these are things a lot of people could do, but just choose not to because living with your parents isn't cool.  Or not having Netflix will be the end of the world.  It's not.  Look at it like this.  8 bucks a month.  12 months.  $96.  Sure, it doesn't sound like much.  But now double it with Hulu, and then add in the cost of wifi that you pay for to watch it.  Now we are talking about a round trip flight to somewhere. 


  • Geisa

    I really admire how you think it is true to can affort travel you have to save money and don’t do a lot of things you have to sacrifice yohrself ,but it is all worthy.Keep it up Sidney you are an inspiration for others,

    • Sydney Zaruba

      Thank you!! It’s so true, everyone can afford to travel- you just have to put your mind to it! Two years ago I had never even flown and now I’ve been all over the world! Hard work and patience is key! Thanks got your comment ??

  • Sydney Zaruba

    Mama Dub!! Thank you so much for commenting, I hope you know your class made me better writer (and person) and the memories continue to inspire me! Hopefully I’ll see you on our new side of the Atlantic soon ❤️

  • Erica

    In the future I’d think more about reaching a more broad audience. Out of state students along with people like myself can’t use our parents nor do we have things like Hulu to cancel to save money. A job doesnt even cover tutition for most students. I
    Instead I’d focus more on the travel experience itself, and the cheapest way to go about it. And no, saying you look for the cheapest flights isnt very helpful either. Sorry to be overly critical, but just thought maybe you could take something from this to improve your articles for the future

    • Sydney Zaruba

      Hi!! I have a few other articles about traveling cheaply, and I directly linked to my article about how to save on flights- check it out if you’re interested in how I fly internationally for under 500! As for audience this was a particular article about a specific question my readers have been asking me lately- so I answered! If you’re interested I can speak with you one on one about specific things you can do to save money to travel- anything to help out.

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