This ‘You Can Travel’ inspirational feature comes from Nina of Nina Near and Far. Even as a full-time student, Nina has been able to travel to a number of places throughout her education and from currently studying in Canada, she is a dab hand at exploring what’s around her too.
Over the past 2 years, I’ve visited 10 countries in between semesters of studying Neuroscience and Mental Health. I have the exceptional privilege of travel, as a result of some good fortune and some hard work.
I live at home, work part-time, year round, and study full time. Every year I travelled a little, for sports and conferences, and in 2015 began travelling just for fun. The bug got into my system on an overcast day in San Francisco, looking up at the last original archway of a tea house in Golden Gate Park. My love of adventure was sparked, and I’ve since travelled to Central America, Europe, and the Caribbean.
I realise that not everyone is in my situation. There are a lot of students working exceptionally hard, clocking in long shifts and multiple jobs, or pay higher tuition and living fees than average. If that’s you, keep up the good work.
There are a lot of students, though, with situations similar to mine. These are the students that could be travelling if things were just a little different. I’ve learned a few strategies along the way, for having amazing adventures without giving up your academic and career goals, that I want to share with you.
Save your money
My first word of financial advice: 10% goes towards long term savings. Buy some stocks, put it a high interest savings account, anything that means you are saving 10%. This money is not for school, it’s not for travel, it’s for life. Best case scenario, automate it to come straight off your paycheque.
Now you can start saving for travel
The quickest place for most students to cut back is alcohol, followed by online shopping, and expensive morning coffees. I’ve never been much of a drinker, or much of a shopper. My last glass of wine was over 5 months ago, and I replace clothes when I have to. My weakness was soy green tea lattes, a habit that I now allow myself only during final exams.
Make that money a reward. Skip your coffee (or order a cheaper version) one morning, and transfer that $3 you saved directly to your travel savings account. We’ve got unlimited transactions as students, might as well use them strategically.
Embrace short trips
“I only want to go if I can go for like 3 month,” says the student who also wants to gain research experience over the summer, and volunteer at a clinic, and work part time.
The limitation of time exists now, more than ever before, on young people because education alone is insufficient. It’s expected that you have work experience, volunteer experience, awards, recognition, and stunning recommendation letter. None of these things are possible if you jet off for the summer.
However, if you take that dream 3 month Europe trip and condense it to 3 weeks, you can have an amazing trip and still put summer 2017 on your resume. I’ve come to love taking short trips, and it’s allowed me to travel so much more than if I were trying to go for long periods of time.
Don’t try to do everything on your trip. Take your time in a few places, instead of trying to cram in everything. Do the things that really matter to you.
Quite likely, you’ll realise you want to go home after 3 weeks anyways. I can tell you from experience that around day 10, you’re ready for home. On day 20, you’ve transitioned to a state where you no longer have a home, and you’re just some person that lives out a suitcase and knows a few things about science or finance.
Go with groups, instead of friends
Waiting for your friends to travel with you is a sure-fire way to end up not going.
A friend and I once saved up for months (or at least, I did) and when it was time to book flights, she changed her mind. Another friend cancelled days before our departure. I hope you have amazing friends that you can travel with, but if you’re not sure they’re committed, or are tired of waiting, you have other options.
Hostels are a fantastic way to travel, especially in Europe. It’s like travelling with friends because you make new friends the moment you arrive.
I’ve also tried small group travel, and I loved it. Pick one with a flexible itinerary, and you’re basically just travelling with a group and choosing your own adventure every day.
Travel in Your City
If you’re at College or University, then you’re in a town or city that’s big enough to have character, culture, and secrets of it’s own. I live in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, and am always finding new and interesting things to do, from visiting the Farmer’s Market on a Sunday morning to doing yoga on Parliament Hill.
Go out and find the best coffee shops, try different things, and take pictures of all the seasons.
The best thing about this strategy is it’s free, or nearly free. There are people who flock to your stomping ground every year and try to take in as much as possible. Do that yourself!
I’m constantly learning more about the beautiful city that I live in, sometimes repeating activities that I did as a child and seeing them with a new light. I’m learning more about the history, the architecture, the culture, and nuances of the world around me.
This one is everyone. Those of you are working hard, putting your hard earned money towards important things that I can’t even guess at, can still go out and see your own city.
A life of adventure starts with simplicity.
Go for a walk in a beautiful neighbourhood you’ve never explored before, and you’re a student traveller. Choose a plain coffee instead of a mocha-what’s-it and put $3 a day towards becoming an international student traveller. When you’re ready to go, choose a short time frame and a bucket list place, and go have a great time.