How to Afford a College Road Trip

If you’re aching to see open skies, tall buildings, or, you know, anything new, it sounds like you should take a summer road trip. Travel is usually out of a college student’s price range, but here are some ways to afford a fun road trip – even on your ramen-and-peanut-butter budget.

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photo credit: Nicholas_T via photopin cc

How to go: Rent, share, or bus it!

  • Search on the web for buses serving from your starting point and scan the destinations for an interesting one. Maybe you’ll visit an awesome place you’d never heard of before!
  • Rent a car from Enterprise, Thrifty, Hertz, or any other car-rental service. Share the cost of rental and gas, the drive time, and the open road with friends.
  • Some websites like Zimride offer an organized way to find a ride somewhere and meet someone new. The drivers are reviewed by people who have ridden with them before, and the cost varies by the length of the drive.


Where to stay: Hostels, couches, or the great outdoors.

  • Check out HostelWorld for cheap hostel rates. You may have to share a room with some other travelers, but the deals are amazing! $40 for a night in NYC?! That’s insane.
  • CouchSurfing is another cheap – and sometimes even free – option. A person will open up their home to you! This may sound sketchy, but the safe system (they use reviews and referrals) helps you find the perfect place to crash.

  • Camp out! Find a campground, pitch a tent for as low as $20, and tap into your inner outdoors(wo)man. You can find a lot of the essentials for a short camping stay at a supermarket for a low cost, and most campgrounds have some amenities to help out.

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What to do: Marvel, play, and enjoy.

  • Check out Roadside America to search for odd tourist stops in your trip’s area. You may just have the luck to see something as rad as a Pez Memorabilia Museum! Most of these extremely relevant attractions are under $10, and some of them are free.

  • Visit a National Park! Observe some of the nation’s natural beauty. 268 of 401 U.S. National Parks are free everyday, and there are free entrance days for the others.

  • Make your own fun! Bring board games, frisbees, portable speakers, and books. Have a picnic, a lake day, a low-key road trip competition, or just dance.

Pack up a cooler with sandwich ingredients, cereal bars, and refillable water bottles and you’re all set for your Great American Adventure! Hit the road, Jack.


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