Apr 17th, 2018, 01:11 PM

How to Take a Roadtrip on a Student Budget

By Lorenza Aranda
Image Credit: Unsplash/Rob Bye
A step to step guide on road tripping and how not to spend your life savings as you do it.

Taking a road trip is on everyone's bucket list, especially if you live in Europe, where you can get anywhere in a short amount of time. Being a student is an obstacle when traveling because there's a budget to be considered, and renting a car can be expensive sometimes, especially for people under 26 as they can get charged extra costs.

Fear no more: here's a guide to planning an amazing road trip without having to spend your month's savings. 

1. Choose a place

My latest road trip was to the border of France and Switzerland. I visited Strasbourg, Colmar, Zurich, and Basel and it was cheap compared to taking a train or a flight. 

Image Credit: Unsplash/Jean-Frederic Frontier

The easiest part is to choose the place. Once you get there, the real fun begins. If you don't want to spend a lot of money, try to pick a spot that is close to where you are renting the car, because there are transportation and gas costs to consider. 

2. Pick a car

Picking a car can sometimes be really expensive, but if you know how to look, you can find a really good price. Try to go on a trip with more friends so the price is lower.  There are two kinds of cars you can rent, automatic and manual. Almost everyone in Europe drives manual so try to pick a manual car; even if it is harder to drive, it is way cheaper. The next step is to choose the kind of car you want to drive. If you are planning to drive a long way pick a car with unlimited mileage, however, cars with limited millage are always cheaper. 

Image Credit: Lorenza Aranda

When looking for a car try to do it on websites like  Best Day travel, so you can see the different prices depending on the rental company.  When picking up the car at the rental company, try to return it to the same place where you rented it, there are high fees for leaving the car in another city or country. 

3. Hostels are always the option

If you are on the road all day, it's not worth it to pay for a hotel; you're probably just gonna sleep there and not spend any time there. So stay at hostels, it is way cheaper than any hotel and you get to meet really cool people. There are all kinds of rooms, private, same sex, or mixed. And they are always full of young travelers like you that come from all over the world. There are a lot of websites to find hostels, but the best one is definitely Hostel World. The prices vary from €20 to €100, but it depends on the place and the location of the hostel. 

Sometimes when you go to a new place you don't really know what the best area to stay, Hostel World has all the hostel options in the city you choose and they tell you how far the hostel is from the city center, and you can always see the map. 

4. Restaurants

Try to eat like a local! It's very common to eat at places recommended by Yelp or Trip Advisor and some of them are good, but most of them are for tourists. Local food is always cheaper and really good.

Image Credit: Unsplash/Dan Gold

Try to stay away from restaurants that are in front of museums, or tourists spots because they're always much more expensive. When looking for a place to eat, go on Google maps and in the explore section you can see the restaurants, bars, and clubs that are around you. This feature is the best because you can directly go to the restaurant's website and look at the prices on the menu. You can also look at the pictures on Google. Before choosing the place, even if you saw it in Google maps, try to look it up on Instagram or Facebook. People are always uploading pictures of the food, so you can see it for yourself before picking a spot. 

5. Parking

Finding a parking spot can sometimes be a bit difficult, especially if you're going to a small town or if you don't know the place. Don't use parking lots, they are extremely expensive and if you plan to leave your car overnight your budget will instantly go up. Try to find parking meters, you only have to pay them during the day (usually from 8 am to 8 pm) and on Sundays its free. These are all over, so try to find the closest spot to the city center, so you don't get lost or have to walk a long way. 

6. Extra expenses

Normally, if you plan to take a weekend road trip the car and the hostels won't cost you more than €200 (if you split the price of the car with friends). However, you always have to consider the museums, restaurants and the most important: gas. It can be really expensive sometimes, so try to look up different companies and plan ahead when you're gonna need to refill it so you have a planned budget on what you're gonna spend on it. Another really important expense to consider is the extra charge for the car if you're underage. Normally, when you make your car reservation you can add it to your reservation from the website. But sometimes they don't specify it until you're paying for the car. So always keep an eye on the fee if you're under 26. It is normally a bit expensive but it is worth it. 

The most important tip when taking a road trip is planning ahead. Plan where you want to go, make hostel reservations and car reservations too. If you do this you won't have anything to worry about. Finally, embrace the detours! The cool thing about going on a road trip is being able to stop wherever you like, that's the best way to discover places.