Traveling On A Graduate Student Stipend

Don’t listen to what they say. Go see

The travel bug bit me at a young age and by the time I was 18 years old, I had already traveled to most major European countries and had no plans of slowing down. I am a lover of learning and being completely immersed in a different culture brings me great joy. Like most PhD students, I had little extra money and had to think of very creative ways to travel inexpensively. I get questions all the time about how I did it and honestly is not that hard. Here are a few things I have done in the past!

Find An International Conference To Attend

As a PhD student, this is an important thing to know…If you want to travel internationally and you don’t want to pay for it, you must find an international conference to attend and make the school pay for it. If you choose a central location, it will allow you to travel to other countries in the area. For example, I had a conference in London this past July and since Paris is my favorite European city, I had to visit, which is exactly what I did. And since Michigan (aka my advisor) paid for my airfare, food and lodging in London, I was only responsible for my lodging and food in Paris plus the oneway ticket from London to Paris. For the entire trip my out-of-pocket expenses was $600 plus my best friend joined me which lowered the cost of the Airbnb in Paris!

Nina and I on a city tour in Mumbai, India
More fun in Mumbai with Nina!

Travel During The Off Season

Peak season means peak prices for most popular places. Therefore, it is more affordable to travel during the off season. Usually airfare and hotels/airbnbs are cheaper (especially Airbnb). For example, the most expensive time to travel to Paris is during the summer months which is June to mid-September when kids are out of school and the weather is really nice. But if you visit Paris during their winter (January-March) which really isn’t that bad coming from Michigan, everything is cheaper.

Okinawa, Japan

Look For Flight Deals & Don’t Be Picky

If the goal is to see the world then it really shouldn’t matter where you go. I find it best to sign up for email alerts from airlines such as Delta, American, United (don’t fly United, lol). This is because you’ll be the first to know when there is a flight detail. Other travel companies such as Travel Noire also send updates on international flight deals from various US cities. I have found flights to Europe, South America, and Africa for as low as $350. They also offer advice on things to do as well as pre-made itineraries. Google Flights is one of the best search engines for finding flights from various airlines that aren’t listed on websites such as Expedia or Priceline. If time isn’t an issue, websites such as Skiplagged use an algorithm to get the cheapest price as possible, however, be careful, lay-overs can be up to 30 hours depending on where you’re going.

Groot Constantia, Cape Town, South Africa

Ditch Hotels, Airbnb Is More Affordable

First things first, you must find ways to cut costs and one of the highest expenses is lodging. A study by IPM, found that in Europe, the Airbnb rate was anywhere from 8% to 17% cheaper than a hotels average daily rate. This is because, the fees associated with hotels are much more than that of Airbnb. Hotels have to charge you for the cleaning/concierge staff, access to certain amenities plus there are state taxes. But just like most things, all Airbnbs are not created equal and it is important that you read reviews. Personally, I won’t stay at any place that doesn’t have at least have 15 reviews.

Tulum, Mexico with my best friend, Margo.

Use Airbnb To Book Tours

This is a new feature from Airbnb and I absolutely love it. If you’re on the website you can find tours, wine tastings, etc under the link “Experiences“. My first time using this feature was in Paris, where I booked both a wine tasting and a bike tour. Here is the link to the tour. Both were amazing and it was nice learning more about the area from locals. I also just used it in South Africa for a guided hike and tour of the peninsula in Capetown. Tour companies charge ridiculous prices, but local tour guides are much more reasonable and from my experience, you get more bang for your buck! Plus the tours are more fun and flexible.

Bike tour in Paris.

From Aeriel, With Love







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