The College Vacation – How to Spend Wisely and Protect Your Money While Traveling

Every college kid dreams of having at least one global trek before graduating college and venturing into the real world. Whether it’s an extended spring break vacation or the ultimate European exploration experience, it’s important that you financially prepare for your travels in advance. Budgeting for a trip and protecting your money before you leave, can help you travel safely and avoid any frightening situations. Before you go traipsing off into the wild, consider a few aspects of travel to ensure that you have enough money with you and a plan in case you lose your funds.


We all know traveling occurs in many forms – sometimes in luxurious form with nights in 5-star hotels, and other times couch surfing in between pizza buffets and big macs. The odds are that most college travel plans adhere to a strict budget due to college loans, part-time jobs and a lack of career income. With that being said, an amazing vacation does not have to break your bank. Start by creating a travel budget. Figure out how much you are willing to spend on the entire trip, and then break out each day’s spend accordingly. Factor in the hotel or hostel stays, meals, gifts and other entertainment purchases. Like most college kids, you’ll probably overspend. Take that into consideration ahead of time and allow yourself to splurge in the areas that you are most excited for, while maintain a strict allowance on other days.

Planning and sticking to your budget is great as long as you actually have the money with you to fund the trip. It is not uncommon to forget your money or lose it while traveling. To counter being in a tough situation, look into travel insurance plans that will reimburse you for lost or stolen cash and valuables. Don’t wait until it’s too late and always have a back-up plan in mind.

Banking and Credit Cards

Before your plane departs, inform your banks and credit card providers of your travel plans to avoid service interruption while you’re away. Determine which cards have the best exchange rates and lowest international banking fees to avoid a higher than normal statement when you return. You may want to consider opening a new bank account with international-friendly banking to take advantage of local policies and ATM availability. If possible, try to memorize your credit card number in case you have to take out cash in the event of an emergency.

Check your travel insurance plan to determine if they have an emergency cash policy as well. Travelers checks can sometimes be more secure than cash as they can easily be replaced if lost or stolen. Be sure to research your destination in advance as some countries and attractions don’t accept travelers checks. Although most of the time credit cards and bank cards are universally accepted, it’s always a good idea to have some cash with you at all times. Store small sums of money in different areas in case your bag is stolen or your hotel room robbed. As in any situation, be sure to have an emergency contact at all times in case you are stranded somewhere without any funds.

Learn From Others

You may have heard horror stories from those who have traveled before you and were stranded for days at a time. These stories can often be intimidating and make you question if your dream vacation is really worth it. Remember, no trip whether it’s domestically or internationally, is 100% free of drama. To reduce the likelihood of something going wrong, plan ahead by talking to friends who may have traveled to the same place in the past. Research your hotel accommodations and attractions online and be cautious of reviews that are overly optimistic. Most of the time, reviews and price estimations are accurate and can help you budget your trip ahead of time. With the power of the internet, you can easily ask questions or post in travel forums to learn more from other people’s experiences. You’re about to be a world traveler, so don’t be shy and keep an open mind as you listen to someone’s advice.

If you have the opportunity to travel while in college, make sure you start your travel career on the right foot. Plan ahead and budget your trip accordingly so you have the money left when you return to plan your next vacation. If you prepare for the unexpected, no situation will ever be a surprise to you, allowing you to travel comfortably and maximize your experience. A final parting piece of advice is to get your shots, fill your prescriptions and bring your smile. Buen Viaje!

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Stephanie Walton

Bio: Stephanie is a writer on anything that strikes her fancy, but particularly travel and food. When she isn’t writing about travel insurance, she can be found in Central Park reading with her dog, Darcy, or exploring vegan restaurants in New York. For more information, click here.

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