Tips for the BYU student traveler: Travel comfortably while traveling cheap

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Traveling around the world can be a fun, educational and comfortable experience even if traveling on a college student’s budget. Some preparatory steps ensure that money does not define the experience.

Plan ahead

Travelers should plan everything out as much as they can. They need to plan the activities they will be doing, what they will be spending money on and how they will be getting around. Not only will this help them find cheap deals, but it’ll give them peace of mind as to what they’ll be doing with their time.

Brooke Alius poses next to Tower Bridge in London, England. Brooke started planning for the trip and bought tickets in February and traveled in June. (Photo courtesy of Brooke Alius)
Brooke Alius poses next to Tower Bridge in London, England. Brooke started planning for the trip and bought tickets in February and traveled in June. (Photo courtesy of Brooke Alius)

For Brooke Alius, a 21-year-old graphic design major from Provo, a major benefit to her summer trip to Europe was planning ahead.

“When we were in Italy, we got tickets beforehand for the Vatican, and then we got to skip this huge, long line that went all the way around just because we had thought about it earlier and planned ahead and got tickets before we even left the [U.S.],” Alius said.

Pace the activities

It is both exciting and daunting to think of all the things travelers need to do and see when they arrive in a new country. To be the most safe and not wear themselves out, they should get to know the area they’re in.

Joe Cobb, a public relations major from Phoenix, Arizona, recommends setting up a base camp in a central area and getting to know the city. This allows tourists to figure out where the good food is, where they can get medical help if they need it, and what the security is like. Once they know the area, they can venture out on day trips.

“Setting up a base camp and planning your trips around your base camp as opposed to going location to location … helps a lot,” Cobb said.

Student travelers should keep in mind, they don’t want to run themselves into the ground from doing too much. They should plan rest days so they can maintain a steady energy level throughout the trip.

“Every few days you also need to plan a day where you don’t go anywhere, you don’t have an agenda and you just sit,” Cobb said. “Three weeks of backpacking will kill you if you don’t rest.”

Rest days are a great opportunity to pick up some basics in the language so travelers can communicate better. If they communicate well, they won’t stress out about getting the things they need. According to Taylor Ottesen, a 23-year-old neuroscience major, learning even a few words will benefit travelers when in another country.

“‘Bathroom’ is one of those words that will serve you well,” said Ottesen, founder of the KVM Foundation, a nonprofit organization in India helping people develop language skills and get jobs. “Also, for many countries where tourists are rare, they are amazed that you would take the time to learn some of their local language, and they will love you for it.”

Lodging

Ottesen points out that hostels are a good option when traveling because, if travelers find the right place, it can be cheap and comfortable.

“I have stayed in hostels for less than $10 a night with a private bathroom, television, towels, breakfast, WiFi and a nice bed,” Ottesen said. “Yes it isn’t the Hilton with 900-thread-count sheets, but it is better than many of the college apartments I have seen.”

Ottesen recommends going online to book hostels.

“When starting out, using a site like hostalbookers.com or hostalworld.com is good. You can ‘shop around’ and book beforehand,” Ottesen said. “This way when you arrive, you know you have a place to stay and know exactly where you need to go.”

What to bring

Alius suggested that, if possible, travelers should bring a friend along who has been to the country and knows how to get around and where to get deals on lodging and food.

“When we were in Italy and Rome, my friend had lived there for awhile for a study abroad, so she knew exactly where everything was and [what] to show us, so it’s kind of like a free tour guide almost, and that was really convenient,” Alius said.

In terms of gear, generally a traveler with less is happier than a traveler with more (although it depends on the purpose of the trip).

Cobb likes to travel with the least amount of gear possible and wear clothing that is comfortable and easy to get through security with. That means wearing sandals or some kind of shoes that are easy to slip on and off. He also recommends wearing pants or shorts that don’t require a belt.

“I never pack more than a carry-on … It doesn’t matter how long I’m going to be there,” Cobb said.

As travelers prepare for the trip of a lifetime, they should remember that their trip will be as good as how comfortable they decide to be. They should go into the trip with the mindset to learn and have fun.

“Above all, love it,” Ottesen said. “Just love your time traveling. Love the people, love the culture, love the adventure, and love yourself. … You never know who you are going to meet, or who you are going to become.”

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