Guide to College Travel on a Ramen Budget

College is arguably the greatest time to travel. The sheer amount of freedom you have with very little obligations to hold you back can be overwhelming. You start off with little weekend trips and before you know it, you're staring at plane tickets to Greece. And yet, your wallet just isn't having it. Luckily for you, I've worked out tried and true tips and methods for traveling on a ramen budget, without breaking the bank!

  1. 1. Set up your budget. No, for real.

    You're in college; I get that you want to be independent and wild, but if you want to travel and stay afloat at the same time, you really need to set up a budget. Cut back on splurges. Goodbye, mall trips.

    A good rule of thumb is if you can't buy it twice, you can't afford it once. Always keep in mind the expenses you have coming up. Did you pay rent and utilities yet?

    According to U.S. News, these are 10 simple budgeting tools to help you get your budget started for free.

  2. 2. Secret sauce: don't trust Google.

    drinking a latte while on laptop on bed

    I've fallen for it myself. You search for the cheapest hotels in Las Vegas and Google outputs a random website. If you've never heard of the site, it'll screw you over. Don't trust the Google flight and hotel search that pops up. The majority of the prices do not reflect any fees. It's more like a collection of ads than anything.

    Always, always, always search in incognito mode on your browser and be sure to empty your cookies. This will cut down on price surges. According to Skyscanner, the best time to book a flight is Saturday, so use your weekend wisely.

  3. 3. Secure a AAA membership ASAP.

    The best add-on to your Christmas list: a AAA membership. Just like with Amazon Prime, a AAA membership comes with serious perks. If you're considering renting a car, it's important that you also take into consideration the hidden fees. Until you turn 25, you'll be hit with a "young driver" fee. This seemingly harmless fee can easily tack on hundreds of dollars to your final price. With a AAA membership, this fee is completely waived with partner companies, such as Hertz.

  4. 4. Take advantage of travel deals.

    Websites such as Travelzoo and Travelocity are constantly promoting new deals every season. Since most college breaks happen to fall on the worst travel times, your best bet is to check way ahead of time for holiday deals. A good rule of thumb is to book six months in advance as a safety buffer in case you need to cancel. The best deals I’ve been able to snag have been around New Year’s Eve. I flew to Paris for $380!

College is the perfect time for you to really explore the world around you. With a little bit of budgeting, a trip to Paris is easily accessible. From Las Vegas to Germany, you too can travel to your dream destinations, all on a ramen budget!