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Wanderlust on a Budget: 7 College Student-Friendly Travel Destinations

Travel on a student budget? Here’s how!

Heritage village in Hoi A city, Vietnam. Image: noina/Shutterstock

As a college student, travel may seem like a distant dream due to its high costs. However, this does not mean you must put your wanderlust on hold. 

With proper research and planning, there are several budget-friendly travel destinations that you can explore without breaking the bank. Here are the top seven destinations that offer a great experience without emptying your wallet.

1. Thailand: The Land of Smiles 

For a good reason, Thailand has long been one of the top tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. This country is well known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, delicious cuisine, and warm local culture. And even as one of Southeast Asia’s premier travel destinations, its prices remain surprisingly affordable!

Thailand offers reasonable accommodation, food, and transportation costs, making it the perfect budget destination. From exploring bustling Bangkok to relaxing on beautiful Phuket beach resorts – Thailand has something to offer everyone.

Phi Phi island, Thailand. Paddle boat in clear blue water with cliffs all around.
This photograph features Thailand’s beautiful Loh Samah Bay of Phi Phi Island. Credit: Serenity-H/ Shutterstock

2. Mexico: Sun, Sand, and Culture 

Mexico is an exquisite nation brimming with history and culture, making it the ideal travel destination for college students seeking an immersive learning experience. From Cancun beaches to Chichen Itza’s ancient ruins, there is plenty to see and do here in Mexico!

Mexico offers an attractively low travel cost, accommodations, food, and transportation that fit most budgets. Also, there’s always the opportunity to learn about Mexican history and traditions!

Street in Puebla, Mexico with colorful buildings lining the sidewalks.
Pictured above is a beautiful street in Puebla, Mexico. Credit: Bo Arrington/ Shutterstock

3. Costa Rica: Pura Vida 

Costa Rica is an exquisite small nation in Central America celebrated for its stunning landscapes ranging from gorgeous beaches and lush rainforests to abundant wildlife species and ecotourism attractions. Furthermore, this nation is recognized for its commitment to sustainability.

Costa Rica may be more expensive than some destinations on this list; nevertheless, it remains an affordable travel choice for college students looking to experience nature – whether it be relaxing on the beaches or exploring the rainforests – without breaking their budgets. In addition, hostel accommodation makes Costa Rica particularly cost-efficient and an excellent budget-travel choice! 

Rio Celeste Waterfall travel destination. Waterfall falling into a clear blue pool surrounded by trees.
This waterfall is the beautiful Rio Celeste Waterfall in Costa Rica. Credit: William Berry/ Shutterstock

4. Portugal: A Hidden Gem in Europe 

Portugal is an unforgettable European nation often overlooked by visitors, yet this stunning nation provides so much in terms of beautiful beaches, delectable cuisine, and history. Furthermore, Portugal remains one of the more cost-efficient European nations, making it ideal for college students wanting an affordable European travel experience.

Algarve in Southern Portugal is an idyllic destination with gorgeous beaches and warm waters. You can also unwind at Praia da Rocha or take surf lessons at Sagres; discover its breathtaking cliffs or explore stunning coves!

Camilo beach travel destination in Portugal. The beach is surrounded by cliffs and trees with a bridge leading to the shore.
The incredible beach pictured above is called Camilo Beach (Praia do Camilo) in Algarve, Portugal. Credit: DaLiu/ Shutterstock

5. Vietnam: A Tropical Paradise

Vietnam is an exceptional nation that blends history, culture, and natural splendor into an affordable travel destination. You can find famous beaches here, along with lush countryside and bustling cities, all offering accommodations, food, and transportation suitable to most budgets.

Vietnam offers budget travelers an ideal destination, from exploring Hanoi’s history and culture to unwinding on Nha Trang’s beaches.

City of Hoi An in Vietnam, featuring close together buildings with street lights hanging from the rooftops and people walking around.
This photograph displays the beauty of the city of Hoi An in Vietnam. Credit: Tang Trung Kien/ Shutterstock

6. Hungary: The Pearl of the Danube 

Hungary is a beautiful country to explore, particularly its capital Budapest. Situated along the Danube, Budapest boasts exquisite architecture, rich history, and vibrant nightlife that make for an incredible travel experience.

Budapest boasts many historic sights like Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion, thermal baths and spas for rejuvenation, and unique bars that create an exciting nightlife scene. So if you are looking for European adventures that won’t break your budget, you should consider Budapest for an adventure!

Budapest, Hungary city area with river in the background.
Here is just some of the amazing architecture in Budapest, Hungary. Credit: ZGPhotography/ Shutterstock

7. Bolivia: A South American Adventure 

Travelers often overlook Bolivia, yet it is very worthy of exploring. Renowned for its stunning landscapes, diverse culture, and affordable prices, you can explore the Andes Mountains, visit Salar de Uyuni, and see Tiwanaku!

Bolivia is home to La Paz, one of Earth’s most vibrant and colorful cities. Here, you can experience traditional Bolivian food, music, and dance. This country is an excellent option for people searching for off-the-beaten-path adventures that won’t break their budgets!

Two people standing on a salt flat looking up at all of the stars.
Salar de Uyuni (pictured above) is home to the world’s largest salt flat. Credit: Pakawat Thongcharoen/ Shutterstock


College travel does not need to be costly! With careful research and planning, exploring the globe doesn’t need to break your budget. These seven destinations provide a perfect blend of affordability and adventure. This makes them ideal for college students eager to see more of this remarkable planet! 

So pack your bags, grab your passports, and prepare yourself for an incredible journey – the world awaits you!

Written By

Hello! I am an English and Entomology student at the University of Florida. I love roller skating, guitar, watercolor, beekeeping, video games, and good vibes!

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