How to travel as a full time student

This month I am handing in my Master’s Thesis, and I will officially be done. I won’t be a student anymore, and it’s just as exciting as it is scary. Studying is what I know, you know. I’ve spent three years in London getting my Bachelor’s in Law, and two more in Oslo getting my Master’s in Sociology of Law. I have finished five years of school, and it’s gonna be a huge change.

Throughout my studies I have travelled as much as I can. I’ve seen more of the world during the school terms than in the Summer holidays, and have taken full advantage of my open schedule. I’ve gotten comments and questions throughout the years on how I can afford it, and how I have managed, and I have finally decided to share all my student travel hacks.

You may be about to start university yourself, with goals to see the world as well. You may be halfway through your degree and dreaming of beaches and pineapples to get your mind off the pressure of school. Or you might just be a nosy bastard. Either way, here are my ways to manage traveling while being a full-time student!

I’ve also incorporated this post PLUS added some further guidance in a ‘mini eBook’ / Worksheet – just for Fjords & Beaches subscribers!
Get your FREE copy at the bottom of this post!

How to travel as a student

Let’s start with one of the biggest myths out there: Travel isn’t as expensive as you think. Most people who ask me how I manage are picturing insane sums spent on flight, hotels, food and activity, and they are probably under the impression that the further away you travel, the more expensive these things get. Wrong.

Obviously, it isn’t cheap either, but when you think of the experiences you’re getting out of it, you’ll see that the value in travel is a lot higher than the dollars leaving your account.

Make sure you take advantage of websites like Skyscanner when booking your flight, and always check if the airlines have special tickets for your age group. For example, Scandinavian Airlines and Norwegian have ‘Youth Tickets’ for anyone under the age of 26, making plane tickets a lot cheaper in an instant.

As for hotels, use sites like Hotels.com and Booking.com, and always remember to log in! When staying at the stunning Warwick Hotel in Dubai, my friends and I managed to score a suite for 70% off – in a special offer to Booking.com members on that day! So sign up to any loyalty programs you can, and there’s loads of cash to save.

Now for the main points of this article.

Take advantage of your friends

My first trip abroad after moving to London (if you don’t count going back home to Norway for Christmas) was to Malaysia and Australia. Places I didn’t think I’d be able to visit in years! My recently assigned new best friend; Sunshine, was Australian, and getting to visit the land down under never would have happened so quickly if it wasn’t for her. The next year, I visited another addition to the BFF Squad (yes, I’m whitest girl ever, deal with it) in Seattle, and got to cross of West Coast USA from my bucket list. Through visiting my friends, not only did I save lots of money on accommodation, I also got to discover less ‘touristy’ areas of the places I traveled to, through letting them show me around and sharing their favourite places.

Both Andrea and Sunshine have visited me in Norway, both in Oslo and by the fjords, and I love showing them around my home town and favourite places. Their visits have been so much fun, and they know that our doors are open for them anytime, just like theirs. My recent visit to Australia over Christmas was in order to visit Sunshine, and I’m actually heading back to Seattle in October, as it is a perfect layover for a few days as I’m heading back to Europe from Hawaii.

My point is, take advantage of your friends (who live abroad.. duh)!

Priorities!

This is actually the most important one. This past year I have been writing my Master’s Thesis, and it’s a lot of pressure, to say the least. People at university were rather surprised (dare I say shocked?) when I told them of my plans to spend a month traveling over New Year’s, and several people asked me “Do you have time for that??

My simple answer: “I’m making time for it.

It’s not that hard to understand, really. I wanted to go traveling, I wanted to see Dubai, and to visit Sunshine and her family. I wanted to do all of those things, and in order to do them, I had to take it up a notch at university both before and after the trip. I knew I would be losing weeks of writing by going abroad, so I put in extra hours almost every single day in the weeks leading up to the trip.

As a student, you are lucky enough to be able to set your own schedule. You are responsible for your own learning and education, and if you prioritize, you are more than capable of having your cake and eating it too.

Save, save, save

Ah, the money question. Literally. I have spent every Summer holiday working, and saving almost every penny I earned. If I got any money for Christmas or my birthday, I would save that too. Knowing you have a trip planned makes it a lot easier not to spend your money in advance.

My secret tip: for every hour you work, or bit of cash you consider spending, ask yourself “How many mojitos will this buy me on the beach?” No joke, you will put your debit card back in your pocket fast as hell, and all of a sudden work won’t seem too bad.

Study abroad

This one isn’t easily attainable for everyone, but most schools have study abroad programs! Studying abroad lets you completely immerse yourself in a different country and culture, and is a great way to expand your horizons while still focusing on your studies! There are usually plenty of options, depending on your degree and university, but there’s always the option to do as I did; get your entire degree abroad!

Time management

This one kind of goes hand in hand with the ‘priorities’ point, but it’s so important to be clear when it comes to your time. If you really want to travel and explore the world (and I know you do), you will be able to prioritize it over other things. With regards to time, it’s important to be honest with yourself, and set aside time for work, time for studying and time for traveling. In my case, for example, I tried to stick to a certain yearly schedule during my Bachelor’s degree. Summer was set aside for working and making money (to save), during term time I would study and work hard, and the Easter holidays (which lasted 3-4 weeks at my university) would be all about travel!

As for my Master’s degree, when I knew I had a trip planned, I would try to schedule in time for working (and getting that $$$) in the month prior to the trip, as well as work my ass off on my studies in the weeks before the trip.


So there you have it, some of my hacks for traveling as a student. I’m really excited to announce that I have created a mini eBook/Worksheet for you to make the most of your time at university, and to make those travel dreams happen! Go ahead and leave your e-mail below and I’ll send it right to your inbox!

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  • Great tips! After reading your post I realized how desperately I need a vacation!

    http://stylesprinter.com

    • Thank you, Katya! I’m sure we all do 🙂

  • Ivana

    Yeeees! Studying abroad is the best! I visited 7 countries in 6 months (I was planning on seeing more but unfortunately medical issues got in the way) while studying in Spain. I was earning zero income, yet I still came home with some savings, as travelling Europe is so affordable. It’s getting there that’s the expensive part!

    • Wow, that’s amazing! I’d love to study in Spain – or some other country where I would have to learn the language, it would be the coolest thing! 🙂 Travelling in Europe sure is affordable and easy, there are so many trains – haha! 🙂 You’re right, Ivana, but have you seen that Norwegian Airlines are flying between the continents now, and it’s not too expensive! They are one of my favourite airlines, and they’re low fare! 🙂

  • I’d take the taking advantage of my friends anytime. Ha! I was planning to go to Japan this year and couch surf on my friend’s sofa, sadly I wasn’t able to go because I wasn’t able to save enough. Well, maybe next year.

    • Next year, for sure, Heide! 🙂 Staying with a friend is such a great way of saving money, now all you have to worry about is your flights and pocket money! Japan is high on my list, too – where were you planning on visiting? 🙂

      • I have a friend in Tokyo and another in Kyoto. Either of those two or whichever friend will let me crash in their apartment. 😉

        • That’s so cool! I’d try and get both done in one trip if I were you! 🙂 Make the most of it!

          • Haha. The problem with that is Tokyo and Kyoto is like four or five hours away by bullet train and my friends tell me those are expensive in Japan.

          • Fair enough. But it does sound like a trip of a Lifetime, so I’d definitely look into the prices and see if it’s plausible to save up for 🙂

  • Good luck with the rest of your thesis! I’m currently studying abroad in France which is so cool as I’ve been able to see a lot of France during that time! Staying with friends and family is always a good option too as then you get to save $$ on accomodation! 🙂
    – solosophie.com

    • Thank you Sophie! It’s super stressful these days, but I know the hard work will pay off 🙂 Wow, that must be so much fun, France is such a cool country! I especially love the Riviera and Versailles, but I never could get used to Paris, haha 🙂