If you’re a student and you’ve come across this article, good. Pay attention because I’m going to tell you why you should stop wasting your money on booze and clubs and weed. I’m going to tell you why you need to travel now, as a student, and why it’s the best decision you’ll ever make in your life.
1. You get discounts because you’re a student.
I began travelling as a student and did my first-ever solo backpacking trip as a fresh graduate with a valid student card. I’m now on another solo trip around Europe and let me tell you this: travelling as a student is a lot cheaper.
Sure you can still do things on a budget as a non-student, but that’s nothing compared to flashing your student card at a ticket counter and getting 20% off rail travel. On top of that, Europe is pretty nice to students and youths (usually 16 to 25-year-olds) and student discounts are somewhat the norm.
Regardless of where you go, remember to ask for a student discount. Ask. The worst thing you’ll hear is “Sorry, we don’t do student discounts” and it doesn’t hurt the ego as much as you think it might.
2. You have a student visa or proof of study.
This is particularly handy when it comes to international trips to countries that either require you to apply for a visa beforehand or one that has really strict immigration laws. Unlike the rest of the human population that has to prove that they’re in employment, have sufficient funds for their travels and possess health insurance, the process is a lot easier for students.
With your proof of study, which is usually all your enrollment letters or a student visa stuck onto your passport, the chances of immigration officers asking you for more documentation (and making the travel experience particularly tedious and daunting) is pretty slim.
3. You have the time and energy to do it.
I’ve met a lot of people who spend their summers lazing at home or taking up internships to fill out their CVs. Guess what? You’ll be doing that for the rest of your life (this is a direct quote from my parents, I kid you not). I will never forget what my parents said when I was toying with the idea to travel instead of securing an internship in London just after graduation.
Father Kow: “I’m close to retiring and I’ve yet to go to all these places I told myself I’d go to. You have no responsibilities, you’re young, you should do it. ”
(Or something to that effect.)
Why not get out of your comfort zone and explore the world around you? It really isn’t that hard to book a flight, book a bed in a dorm, pack your bag and go.
4. You have no responsibilities, yet.
Let’s be real here: As a student, you have little responsibilities – it’s mostly eating, pooping, showering and passing your exams, easy stuff.
Let’s also be very real here: I understand that not everyone is as privileged as I am to have parents who supported me throughout my studies, but I know of many people who prioritised travel and worked their butts off at their part-time jobs and saved up as much as they could.
In my first year of university, I was a cleaner over the summer when they turned the posh student rooms into cheap hotel rooms. No one makes a bed better than I do and I was making £6.72 an hour.
In my second year of university, I got a part-time job in retail. I worked for the brand Mint Velvet selling skirts for £80 in House of Fraser and made £6.15 an hour (less than a cleaner!). I was hired on the condition that I worked over Christmas and New Years so I spent the holidays alone. I remember treating myself to a meal at the newly opened sushi restaurant as everyone spent New Year’s Eve watching the fireworks.
In my third year, I worked as a Resident Life Mentor with the university which didn’t pay but gave me £40 off accommodation each week. I chose the cheapest place on campus and spent a lot of time speaking to freshers.
I bought everything second-hand. I only went out for meals once or twice a month. I stayed in cheap accommodations. Every penny was calculated. I made sacrifices and worked hard because I knew that I wanted to travel after graduation.
5. You don’t have to do it alone.
The first time I took a 4-day trip alone, I was scared. The second time I took a 3-month trip alone, I was scared. The third time I took a 10-day trip alone, things didn’t go according to my plans at all. I’m now on my 4th trip alone, and I was scared up to the moment the plane took off.
Travelling can be scary. The good news is you don’t have to do it alone. It took a few trips with friends to foreign lands before I felt comfortable dealing with the unknown. Taking yourself out of your comfort zone can be exciting, but it can also be scary and daunting.
I’m glad to have travelled with great people who weren’t only great company, but who also gave me great travel advice when I was a blur sotong, when I was confused and when I was utterly useless.
As a student, you’re bound to find people who want to travel too. If you can agree on a destination, your travel budget and your travel styles, you’re good to go. Plus, you’ll have more than one person to share the burden of organising and booking stuff. Everybody wins.