Travel

The 4 Most Clever Opportunities I Took to Travel As A (Broke) Student

I’ve been afflicted with wanderlust my whole life.
Like so many other students, starting college was my first real opportunity to venture out on my own and explore the world on my own terms. Unfortunately, traveling as a student wasn’t that easy because, well… I was broke.

Thankfully, instead of letting my lack of funds limit me, I got creative instead.

Here are 4 of the best opportunities I took to travel as a student (+ inspiration and ideas to find amazing traveling opportunities of your own!)

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I JOINED (& LED) AN INTERNATIONAL STUDENT GROUP
(Egypt)

In pharmacy school, I interviewed and was selected to be a chairperson of a student group called the “International Pharmaceutical Students Federation.” The focus of this group is to promote public health through international collaboration and advocacy- something I was very very passionate about.

As a chairperson, I went to the annual World Congress which, during my year, was held in Egypt. Get this- the majority of my travel expenses were taken care of!

me in Karnak temple during my travel to Egypt as a student
Karnak Temple – Luxor, Egypt

Students from all over the world were there! It was an unforgettable opportunity to meet new people (many that I still talk to), present research and learn about new cultures. After the Congress activities, I toured Cairo, Luxor, Alexandria and other cities to see the pyramids, the Red Sea, temples and many other attractions.
It was truly unforgettable.

tip:
Find student groups with an emphasis on travel and/or culture. Also keep in mind that there are non travel related groups (like athletic teams) that may offer the opportunity to travel.

I VOLUNTEERED OVERSEAS
(Costa Rica + Nicaragua)

By the time I was a junior in college, I knew I wanted to be a pharmacist.

On campus, I stumbled into some information about International Service Learning. ISL is a group that organizes volunteer trips for students interested in healthcare to learn and provide basic medical services in underserved countries. A 3-in-1: healthcare experience, helping communities in need and travel?? I was sold immediately.

me standing with medications on my volunteer travel as a student to Costa Rica and Nicaragua

The trip I chose was to Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Once there, we set up clinics to intake patients from different communities and even spent time with children from a Nicaraguan orphanage. A bonus: I was the only aspiring pharmacy student in the group so I did most of the medication dispensing and counseling. (In Spanish!)

We had recreational time built into our schedule so I got to enjoy the Costa Rican beaches and zip lined for the first time (amongst other activities)!

me standing in zip lining gear

Volunteer programs like ISL will most likely require you to cover your own traveling costs. But, from personal experience, there are many people (family, friends & community organizations) that will enthusiastically donate and support you if you share your plan to help those in need.

You can also consider crowdsourcing if need be.

tip:
There are MANY organizations that you can volunteer with to build, teach, do environmental work or offer medical services like I did. (Keep reading for examples below).

tip:
Even though you will most likely get some time for recreational activities, I HIGHLY recommend volunteering for these opportunities ONLY if you are passionate about the cause you are signing up for.

I ATTENDED A MAJOR PROFESSIONAL CONFERENCE
(New Orleans)

me standing by a New Orleans sign on a trip to a conference as a student

This was another opportunity that came about from being a student group leader. My pharmacy school sponsored the leaders of each group to attend the annual conference for the national pharmacy organization.

We went to represent our school and our organizations but of course, got plenty of time to experience the city of New Orleans. Lots of good food and beignets were had!

tip:
GET INVOLVED on campus and don’t underestimate the opportunities to travel within your own country!

I DID STUDY / SUMMER ABROAD
(United Kingdom)

eating a scone during my summer abroad to the United Kingdom
My first scone (with jam and cream). Yummy!

My very first international trip (kind of).

There was no way I was going to let the opportunity to study abroad pass me by in college. Again, it was like this magic opportunity to do something that I wanted to do (travel and culture immersion) and something that I needed to do (take classes for my degree), at the same time!

At the time, it was virtually impossible to complete a full-time science-based semester abroad because the science courses available abroad were pretty limited. HOWEVER! There were SOME science classes available, which means that I could at least take one course abroad.

So, I signed up to do a summer abroad and took physics at the University of Sussex in the UK.
(record scratch)
I know what you’re thinking. “Physics?? Why didn’t you study something easy like ‘Intro to Breathing’ or something“.
Well, that’s a story for another day but in a few words, I wanted to stay on track for graduation.

I digress.
Because my hosting university was affiliated with my home school, financial aid covered most of my semester costs. And equally important, the credits I earned were guaranteed to transfer back.

Bonus: It was easy (and relatively cheap) to travel to nearby European countries! Here I am in Madrid:

arriving via metro in Madrid
Arriving in Madrid

tip:
Study Abroad!
The best resource to find programs that your school is connected to is your school’s student resource center. If your school doesn’t have options that work for you, you can find more study abroad opportunities here.

Other Ideas To Travel As a Student:

For a comprehensive and frequently updated list of opportunities,
visit GoOverseas here

  • Volunteer Abroad
    – Mission Trips – check with your church/religious organizations. (Groups often fundraise to make this super affordable)
    Conservation Volunteers in Australia
  • Work Abroad
    wWOOF.org – work on a farm for boarding and lodging
    Become an Au Pair – provide child care for compensation
  • Job/Internship Abroad


3 Comments

  • Tay

    Amazing! My one regret is not getting to study abroad…. but I did do an internship and also led an international trip abroad; honestly some of tbe best memories. Great tips; love how you took complete advantage of all the opportunities!

  • Nyxie

    I have always wanted to volunteer overseas but have never had the opportunity/confidence to do so.
    This is so inspiring to me. Anyone who can travel and meet new people is so motivating because you’re doing so much for yourself and others in the process.
    Keep doing what you’re doing!
    – Nyxie

  • Gracia Harrison

    This is amazing! You should be so proud of yourself and your experiences and accomplishments! I love everything about this! We are looking in to work abroad programs ourselves so that it’s a little easier to afford travel annnnnd meet amazing people and truly experience the way of life in other cultures! Keep on keepin’ on girlfriend!

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