Summer is building steam, and it's high time to sort out your vacation plans. Let's take a few weeks to be free spirits and figure out who we are before we once again inhabit the roles of class note-takers, coursebook readers, library-goers, essay writers, and everything in between we can be on campus.
There is only one "but" – trips cost a buck, and you, as a student, probably don't have much to spare. Yet the old saying "where there's a will, there's a way" cannot be more accurate regarding travel. Here are some great opportunities to go on a journey at a very moderate cost – or sometimes even free!
It doesn't sound inspiring, but hear me out. A temporary job is not only a way to fund the trip. It can be a trip if you spend a season in a holiday resort. For example, there are many seasonal work opportunities in Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and other places. You can work in pubs, restaurants, clubs, campsites, etc. This gives you a chance to earn money and spend your time off basking in the sun, treading the hiking trails, biking around the picturesque countryside, exploring exotic cities, and enjoying everything tourists enjoy. Not too shabby, huh?
Summer internships abroad
This option combines all the benefits mentioned above with a boost your CV and future career will get. The caveat: you will have to look more carefully for opportunities that fit you. Moreover, some internships are unpaid. That said, most of them still cover the accommodation and travel and offer some type of living stipend. In addition, there are scholarships available for students planning to intern abroad, so it still counts towards that "budget travel" requirement. So, working experience, research opportunity, class credits, language practice… and a free trip? Yes, please! Check in with your school's International Education/Cooperation Office to see if you've got a leg up thanks to some partnership program.
Helping conservation efforts
Volunteering in nature conservation programs will be the perfect solution if you care for the environment and want to save some beautiful creatures. There is a plethora of internship and volunteering opportunities in Europe, Asia, Central America, and the Pacific Islands – places of exuberant beauty and warm weather. This summer, you could be saving dolphins in Spain, helping elephants in Sri Lanka, conserving sea turtles in Costa Rica, or protecting orangutans in Borneo. Making your small contribution to saving wildlife and learning more about our planet is an inspiring prospect as it is. Working and living in a beautiful place while you are at it makes it a win-win choice.
Short-term mission trips are a great way to see new places, learn about other cultures, and make friends while sharing your beliefs if you are affiliated with a religious organization or belong to a church. Such trips are often organized in groups, so you won't feel lonely or lost, and the logistics will be taken care of. Plus, bulk expenses shared among you will be much more moderate than if you undertook the trip on your own. If you don't have money to cover your share, organize a fundraiser. Your local church community might be willing to subsidize your good work. Alternatively, look for free opportunities from youth organizations that are usually financed through charities.
Helping communities abroad
Another way to do something meaningful while seeing the world is to volunteer. Some of the opportunities require nothing from you but a willingness to help and appropriate skills (depending on the target projects). While some might require you to partially cover the costs (like travel or food while you are on the location), your expenses are usually very modest. Besides, when you do something you are passionate about and what benefits your future career, it's killing two birds with one stone anyway. Whether you are going to contribute to educational initiatives, care for children, or help build in disadvantaged communities, the experience will be enriching.
If you have saved some cash for a trip, it probably isn't very much, so you want to pack intense experiences in a limited timeframe. In that case, short festival tours are what you should look for. Some of the most vibrant and exciting traditional summer festivals take place in Spain: the San Vino wine fight in Haro, the La Tomatina Festival in Buñol, near Valencia, the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, etc. However, a famous festival exists in almost every country: Le Infiorate in Italy (giant flower-carpet competition near Assisi), Provins Medieval Festival in France, Wianki in Poland (featuring music, fireworks, and pagan rituals like jumping over a bonfire), and so on.
If something has caught your eye, look for festival packages that include low-cost flights, accommodation, and activities. This is a great budget option for people who want just to kick their boots off and have fun, leaving all the organization hassle to someone else.
Music is for everyone, but music festivals are for the young. At least, for the young at heart, who love the excitement, partying all night long, observing sunrise under a blanket shared with friends, singing at the top of the voice, but also don't mind the crowd, the noise, and living in a tent. If that's your cup of tea, summer is the high season for music events in Europe: Ostrava in the Czech Republic, Siget in Hungary, Noantri Folk Festival in Italy, Jazz en Été in France, City Groove in Montenegro – the list goes on and on. Lasting anywhere from a weekend to a week, a music festival is a perfect summer adventure for a student.
Coming from the USA, you have the advantage of living in an English-speaking nation, which is a skill you can capitalize on. In many countries, people are looking for native speakers to practice conversation, improve fluency and pick up some colloquialisms that make speech more natural. Tutoring ESL students in another country is a great way to travel and make money to cover your expenses. However, some ESL jobs require a college degree, so make sure to clear that nuance out before applying.
If you are an athlete, sports coaching is an excellent alternative. Coaching opportunities worldwide include football, basketball, soccer, hockey, surfing, swimming, sailing, etc.
If teaching doesn't seem too appealing, how about learning instead? A language course is a fabulous idea for a summer break travel. Most schools try to make it an entertaining experience with lovely locations, excursions, and cultural and social activities. Apart from an obvious boon of the foreign language skill, studying Japanese in Japan, French in France, or Gaelic in Ireland gives you an intense and holistic cultural experience. Courses have flexible duration from one week to three months and varied geography from capital cities to small historical towns, so you can find something that fits your ideal vision for a summer trip. You can also choose level and focus (grammar, conversation, vocabulary expansion, language for business, etc.).
Road trip around America
If you are too broke for overseas adventures, don't feel down. You still have a fantastic option of exploring your backyard. There are so many things to discover in America: cities, national parks, country towns, and quirky roadside curiosities. Get a couple of friends to keep you company and go on a road trip! For example, Leslie Harvey, travel expert and writer, recommends a 5-7 day route along the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway stretching from Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California to Crater Lake National Park in Southern Oregon and passing ten volcanoes within the Cascade Range. Leslie advises to "slow down and take in the sights along the back roads" before continuing north and "ending in Bend, Oregon where Newberry Volcanic National Monument is located."
If you don't have a car, renting one should be cheap with student discounts. Plus, you will be splitting gas expenses, so the cost should be reasonable despite the current inflation. As for the sights themselves, only around 100 national parks out of a total of 423 have an entrance fee. All the rest never charge admission! Plus, here is a tip from travel expert Terry Ward. "Additionally, all 423 parks in the NPS system will offer free admission this summer on August 4, 2022, the anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act."
What are you waiting for? Get your summer sorted now before – whoosh! – it's gone forever. Make some memories and have something to daydream about during some particularly boring classes next fall!