Getting Out of Town on a College Budget

I remember very clearly when I was hopping into an Uber at the end of my sophomore year to finally go home. I remember it so vividly because, it was at that moment, as I was passing by the beautiful city of Boston, that I realized I hadn’t explored the city at all. The past two years of my college experience I spent suffocating under books, assignments, and the occasional frat basement. My entire world was inside of this 2-mile radius that was incredibly easy to stay in because, well, it had everything—food, shelter, friends that were practically family, and entertaining extracurricular events.

I grew as a person when I realized that life was also beyond the perimeters of my college campus. Life is large, grand, and unpredictable and right when you think you’ve grasped it, it’ll slip out of your fingers almost instantaneously and reveal something new to you. For me to think that life could be encapsulated within a few blocks was foolish and, I find that if I don’t explore or leave town, that thought always ends up creeping back into my mind. It’s dangerously easy to get stuck within a loop between home, the Mugar library, the gym, and bars around town. As Gareth Pugh, a British designer, explained, “Sometimes it’s good to get off the merry-go-round and get on a roller coaster instead.”

Routines are healthy and a great step to improving productivity but, breaking the routine is where you improve creativity. Undertaking this first step away from routine can feel uncomfortable or maybe invigorating, depending on your perception of the experience, but it’s all about popping the bubble of society we sometimes come to entrap ourselves in. By doing this, we find that expanding our horizons expands our minds as well.

Traveling doesn’t need to be countries away either. A common limitation of traveling for college students is the money. Traveling to cities or nearby states is a great option for those who don’t have the resources to go far yet. Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York are some trips near Boston I’ve done myself that are incredibly beautiful and easy to get to! Another great rule of thumb is to travel in groups. With this, the cost of Airbnb or hotel accommodations goes down significantly.

When it comes to transportation, buses and cars are usually your best bet for low prices. Finding a friend with a car is key but, if you don’t have one, Zipcar is a great option for students who want to rent a vehicle. The plus about Zipcar is that it works even if you're under 21 years old. Buses are also incredibly easy to book and typically cost around twenty to thirty dollars. Sometimes, through the website, you can find cheap train tickets too!

We may not have that much money as college students but, with the money we do have leftover, it’s best to spend it on experiences. My father taught me when I was young that money spent on experiences will always be better than money spent on materials. The joy of great memories and photographs with friends, or even strangers, in beautiful, newfound places will surpass the joy of buying a new sweatshirt or pair of shoes. Sometimes, saving can get problematic, especially in a community that frequently online shops (at times, even for things we don’t even need).

Getting out of town on a college budget is all about allocating your funds correctly and being social. Find people who want to explore also and split costs. Save money instead of spending it immediately on clothing and other material items. Then just go see the world, be positive, meet new people and laugh. I don’t know what better thing I could advise a fellow college peer to do.  


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