How A Broke College Kid Can Travel The World

You don’t need more money, you just need more focus


Kassandra Ruiz sitting on the rock at Devils Punchbowl trail in Angeles National Forest in Los Angeles, CA. Photo credit: Travis Jepeway/ SAC.Media. Photo illustration: Kassandra Ruiz/ SAC.Media.

I struggled to find a travel companion on my first trip to Europe. I remember flipping through my contacts and asking practically all my friends if they wanted to come. Several of them responded with, “Sorry, I don’t have any money.”

Luckily, I was able to find a fun travel companion at the last moment, but I couldn’t stop thinking, “How is it that I, a girl who makes $11 an hour scooping ice cream, is able to travel abroad while my friends, some of who I know make more than me say they can’t afford it?”

The answer is simple; lifestyle. While I was tanning on the beaches of Barcelona, my friends were enjoying their weekly $15 semi-luxurious meal. Believe me, I love delicious food, but those $15 plates add up. That could be your airfare, your hostel, your day trip, or your food money while you’re abroad.

It’s time to cut back on your day to day expenses if you ever want to travel. Here are a few things that I do to cut back:


As I already mentioned, eating out is expensive. It could be a restaurant, fast food, whatever it is, it all adds up. Bottom line, eating out falls under non-essential spending. Instead, try cooking some homemade meals for a change.

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You don’t have to completely stop eating out. Just try to lower the amount of times you do or perhaps save them for the special occasions. Also, try buying just the entrée and not the meal. When I go to In-N-Out, I only buy the burger and leave out the fries and drink. I avoid spending an additional $4 every time I go.


Stop shopping! I know it’s addicting. I know you want to buy all the cute stuff from Target, but it will probably end up sitting on a bookshelf anyway. These items do not have actual value. If you look around your room, I guarantee you are going to see several things that you have not touched, have not read, or even looked at in a long time. Make every purchase valuable. Before I buy anything, I give it the shelf test. If I am simply amused by it, or know that I will only use it a few times until it ends up in the inevitable forgotten shelf, then I won’t buy it. Make sure everything you buy is essential.

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Social Activities

It seems like every time someone asks, “Wanna hang out?” You feel an immediate obligation to go out and spend money, but you don’t have to! Instead, maybe go on a hike or take your dog to the dog park. You can also stay in and have a movie night or try challenging yourselves to recreate that recipe you saw on Tasty. Whatever it is, there are several ways to have fun without spending money.

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Alcohol & Drugs

Having an endless party lifestyle is expensive and, not to mention, unhealthy. Sure, you can probably get someone to buy you a few drinks but you still need to think about the Uber rides home or the expensive drunken mistakes you make like breaking your phone or losing your wallet. Stop throwing your money away! After all, drinking is a lot more fun when you’re in an Irish pub in Ireland.

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It may be nice to keep up with the trends, but it is also expensive to continuously buy new outfits. I once met a minimalist who had about a backpack size of a wardrobe. He saves tons of money by not going on frequent shopping sprees. You don’t need to completely empty your closet but try setting a schedule for when you will or will not allow yourself to buy clothes and stick to it. Just think, one authentic Louis Vuitton bag is the same price as an entire trip to Europe. Hmm… guess I won’t be needing one of those.

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Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify are all about $10 a month. Just one of them would cost about 120 dollars a year. The average gym membership costs about $40 – $50 a month for an annual average of $800. My point is that these subscriptions and memberships add up. All that money could fund your next trip. Really evaluate all your monthly subscriptions and ask yourself if you actually need all of them.

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You don’t need to be rich to travel. You just need to want it enough that you’re willing to compromise and give up a few luxuries. Saving a dollar a day can make a huge difference.