Vacations for Students on a Budget (Tips for Cheap Flights, Destinations, Costs)

  • By: Nikita
  • Date: July 6, 2021
  • Time to read: 10 min.

Student life is just awesome, isn’t it? You don’t have to face the drudgeries of a job, domestic responsibilities, and the like, which means you can afford more time to travel. Money can be an issue, though. However, that doesn’t mean you have to restrict yourself to weekend getaways from your city. 

Here is a list of awesome places in the USA that are just perfect for students on a budget. Not only are they inexpensive, but they are also incredibly fun too! 

Tips for Planning a Cheap Vacation for Students

You are a student and you are planning your trip for the first time, then there will be a lot of challenges for you to deal with! From booking transportation and flights to finding suitable accommodations, there’s a lot of details to absorb. Here are few tips that might help you.-  

  • Start Planning Early- Travelling includes a lot of arrangements. So, being a student considering your spring breaks and semester breaks, it best to plan your trip as early as possible. 
  • Choose the right partner- When you are choosing your tour operator, make sure you will opt for the one who will consider everything- from your budget to your safety. Beware of frauds!
  • Pack Lightly- For some good snaps, you will think of packing everything from your wardrobes. But remember lesser the no of luggage, the easier it will be for you to deal.  
  • Don’t forget your ID-  Wherever you travel don’t forget to carry your identity card. Your ID is your prior tool!
  • Meetings- Hold meetings with whoever you are traveling with. Know their do’s and do not’s. Also, hold meetings with their parents. Remember you are a student and it’s mandatory for your parents to know your friend’s phone number.
  • Make a checklist- Preparing a checklist is very important before traveling. Write down all the necessary items that you need while traveling. If you are on medication, don’t forget to put that on the list too!   
  • Prepare a friendly budget- Being a student, money can your real issue. So discuss with your friends the amount of budget they want and can spend on this trip. Don’t go for fancy!  

12 Ways to Find Cheap Flights for Students

  1. Book your flights for Cheap Days- Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Weekday travel is the cheapest as per multiple reports. Friday, Saturday, and Monday are the most expensive days to books flights, due to the high demand from business travelers.
  2. Cheapest months for booking flights: For 2021, the cheapest months to fly would be the last week of August and early to mid-September. These flights will be even cheaper if booked for Tuesdays or Wednesdays
  3. Plan in advance: Plan at least a couple of months in advance to get the best deals. 
  4. Look for Sales: Most airlines will offer discounted rates in sales, around big holidays. Subscribe to email alerts from your favorite airlines to keep a check on such sales.
  5. Flexible Search Dates: Switch on the flexible search feature while booking (instead of exact dates). This will help you get the best rates. 
  6. Book two one-way tickets instead of a single round-trip ticket. However, this might not always be true. Check and compare before you book.
  7. Select a late night/early morning flight: People prefer to fly during the day or late evening. The rates are thus higher for such prime-time flights. Instead, go for the cheaper late night or early morning flights.
  8. Find the cheapest destinations to travel: Use Skyscanner and add ‘Everywhere’ as your destination to find the cheapest destinations to fly to!
  9. Use Price Search Engines such as Momondo, Skyscanner, Travel Supermarket, etc for the best prices
  10. Use a Student Travel Agent: Refer to travel agents such as StudentUniverse, STA Travel, or any local agent for the best deals and student discounts
  11. Use the Private or Incognito mode of your browser while booking flights. Browsers usually save search cache and airlines use this information to hike their rates as per the demand.
  12. Use a credit card to book your flights. Credit cards have many deals such as cashback and air miles which you can use for further purchases Also, using a credit card will save your cash in hand, which you can use for your travel spends abroad.
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Top 15 Affordable Travel Destinations for Students

Bar Harbor

Bar Harbor, Maine, is a postcard destination that has found its way into the real world. The town is flanked by Acadia National Park on one side and Frenchman Bay on the other, so it has an abundance of options for both outdoor enthusiasts and water sports fans. Summer is the best time to visit because the weather is warm and dry. Plus, this season is when the town offers a variety of free activities, including outdoor movies at Agamont Park and tastings and tours of local breweries. Vacation in Bar Harbor will cost around $160/person per day, including the meals which will cost around $45, stay at one of Grand Canyon Village’s affordable hotels, and transportation of ~$28. 

Niagara Falls

If you avoid the area’s casinos, you’ll find that the New York and Ontario sides of Niagara Falls are exceptionally affordable summer vacation destinations. To save money, consider purchasing one of the region’s bundled passes, which may include admission to activities like a guided Journey Behind the Falls tour or entry to attractions like the Aquarium of Niagara. Summer may be the peak season, but booking in advance helps cut costs. Plus, nothing beats basking in Niagara Falls’ mist on 80-degree days. Two days trip to the fall will cost around $150/person including the adventure pass and affordable meals. Transporation and additional entertainment may increase the cost. 

Moab

Moab, Utah, is unique in that it borders two of the state’s national parks. Arches National Park (to the north) is where students can marvel at the precarious-looking sandstone monuments like the famous Delicate Arch. Meanwhile, Canyonlands National Park (which sits southwest of the town) offers stunning views of Utah’s expansive desert landscapes. In and around Moab, you will find an array of affordable accommodations, ranging from campgrounds to motels to vacation rentals. All of this makes Moab a budget-friendly destination for students! A trip to Moab will cost around $124/person per day, including the meal that costs around $30 and transportation of $14 on average.   

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Arizona and is a unique place to rough it. You’ll have to contend with crowds along the South Rim, but the photo possibilities will be well worth the cramped quarters. Some campsites start at just $18 per night during the warmer months, while the park entrance fee for vehicles is $35 and lasts seven days. Pack your food to save even more. If you’re not interested in camping, plan to stay at one of Grand Canyon Village’s affordable hotels near the South Rim. A weekend trip to the Canyon will cost around $200/person, including $30 for the pass and $100 for the adventures.  

Yellowstone

Wandering buffaloes, majestic mountains, and breathtaking geysers populate Yellowstone’s more than 2,220,000 acres of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho wilderness. Students searching for an affordable vacation that doesn’t skimp on memorable moments will likely appreciate several cost-effective aspects of this national park. Entrance fees cost $35 per vehicle or $20 per person on foot for seven days, while campsites start at 20 per night. Once you’ve settled in, explore the park’s incredible hiking trails, which wind from colorful thermal basins to large lakes. A trip to the National park will cost around $150 per person per day including the lodging that costs around $63. 

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Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs, Colorado, offers ample opportunities to enjoy breathtaking scenery and inexpensive attractions. The city offers an abundance of free activities to fill your time, including biking through Garden of the Gods, hiking to Pikes Peak’s summit,  and strolling up and down the streets of Old Colorado City. Nearby Manitou Springs is also a great stop for anyone looking to relax in healing waters. While summer is peak tourist season, lodging options remain relatively cheap, with plenty of budget hotels and motels to choose from. A vacation to the springs will cost around $124 per day including the meals for $36 and local transportation for $31.

Surfside Beach, SC

Nicknamed “The Family Beach,” Surfside Beach is a 2-mile strip on the South Carolina coast. Students can look forward to games, fishing, and a weekly series of beach hula and fire shows during the warmer months. Surfside features an assortment of youth attractions designed with accessibility in mind. What’s more, the city’s free beaches and pier (which are easy to reach via a cheap summer shuttle) are exceptionally maintained, guaranteeing students a clean and safe getaway. A weekend trip to the beach will cost around $250 per person including the meals and the lodging. Additional activities may increase the cost. 

Williamsburg

If you’re seeking a serious dose of history, Williamsburg, Virginia, may be the right vacation spot for you. Step back in time at Colonial Williamsburg, visit the first settlement site. To keep trip costs down visit Jamestown, and wander around Yorktown Battlefield. Should you want to check out pricier attractions like Water Country USA and Busch Gardens, opt for a summer combo ticket that covers unlimited access to these locations and Colonial Williamsburg for seven days. East Coast-based students can easily reach all of these hot spots thanks to Williamsburg’s central location. A weekend trip to Williamsburg will cost around $200 per person including $25 on meals/day and $9 on local transportation. 

Hot Springs, AR

This town sits about 55 miles southwest of Little Rock, Arkansas. As its name suggests, visitors, flock here to admire the thermal waters of the Hot Springs National Park. The park is free to enter and offers campsites that start at only $30 per night. For more budget-friendly fun, students can wander through the Bathhouse Row to see historic bathhouses and learn about the area’s healing waters. There are plenty of stores and restaurants surrounding the park, and the town offers many free parking options. A weekend trip to hot springs will cost around $240 including the hotels for $65/night and meals for $30/person. 

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes region of New York offers an abundance of affordable activities and attractions that make this destination stand out from similarly impressive bodies of water. Boating, fishing, swimming, and water sports are popular activities to enjoy on the area’s namesake lakes, while hiking paths weave through the scenic spots between the lakes. Should students desire a break from the outdoors, they can head to air-conditioned museums like the George Eastman Museum and The Strong National Museum of Play. Visit the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance’s website for coupons and vacation packages to keep trip costs down. A weekend trip to Finger lakes will cost around $150-200, including the meals that cost only $20/person. 

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Glacier National Park

Head to this national park in northwest Montana for stunning photo-ops within a budget. Summer is a great time to visit since the conditions are ideal for driving along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, one of the most scenic drives in the country. With the park’s $35 per vehicle entry fee (which covers access for seven days), students can also hike Grinnell Glacier, swim in Lake McDonald, and learn about the area’s flora and fauna at the Apgar Nature Center. Camping in the park is cheap, too – rates range from $10 to $23 per night. The total cost of the trip will be around $140/person approximately. 

Montreal

Summertime in Montreal brings sunshine and daytime temperatures in the 70s and 80s, making it the perfect time to explore the city’s streets, stroll through the Montréal Botanical Garden and hike the trails in Mount Royal Park. Plus, travelers in search of a dose of culture will have many free museums to choose from, including the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art and the Lachine Museum. For cheap lodging, book a room at one of Montreal’s centrally-located hostels. A weekend trip to the city will cost around $200/person. Rentals can be booked for $21/night.  

Gatlinburg

Nestled at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, offers plenty of outdoor attractions for visitors. Inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the area’s most popular sight, travelers will find more than 800 miles of terrain to explore. Plus, it’s one of the few national parks that offer free entry, so visitors can hike to overlooks and waterfalls while sticking to a tight budget. When vacationers need a break from checking out the park, they can visit family-friendly attractions like the Gatlinburg Arts & Crafts Community or play a round of mini-golf at a local course. A trip to the place will cost around $200-250/person, including the meal for $68/person. 

Boston

This historical city offers a variety of activities for students traveling on a budget. A walk through Boston Common is a must, as is a visit to the Boston Public Garden; both are free to explore. Another excellent (and affordable) way to pass the time is to follow the Freedom Trail to historic sights like Faneuil Hall and the Old State House. Sports fans can also catch a Red Sox game at famous Fenway Park, where some tickets may cost less than $20 (depending on the game and the seats). You will spend around $203 per day in Boston including the meal for $40 and $28 on local transportation. 

Curacao

Summer is Curacao’s low season, meaning hotels are less expensive and attractions are emptier than they are the rest of the year. Explore pristine beaches like Playa Lagun and Cas Abao for a bit of free fun. Then, visit the capital of Willemstad to admire the colorful architecture and watch ships enter the harbor through the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge. Don’t forget to save time for snorkeling, a cheap activity the whole group will enjoy. One week’s vacation to the palace will cost around $365, including $35 for meals and $39 for transportation. 

There is no better time than your student’s life to take advantage and explore all the world has to offer. With so many options for the cheapest places to travel, it’s time to get planning! 

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