How I Balance Traveling Often as a Full-Time Student (and how you can too)
*Disclaimer: I actually started drafting this post a while ago because so many people were asking me the same questions but never got around to finishing it--so this post is a compilation of over 3 semesters of acquired experience and knowledge of frequently and constantly traveling. That being said, this truly is my best advice that I can give you of what has actually worked time and time again for me*
If I had a dollar for every single time I get asked this question, I could probably afford to buy yet another plane ticket. So to answer your FAQs:
Yes, I do actually go to school. In fact, for the last few semesters I have been taking anywhere from 16-18 credits. Sometimes even 20. Yikes. And yes, I do go to class. My academics are actually incredibly important to me, and I take school and all my classes very seriously.
So how do I do it? How do I balance traveling almost every weekend (and only being “home” 3 sometimes 4 days out of a 7-day week?) Is that even possible?
More often than I would like to, I find myself running to class with my luggage or backpack for the weekend in tow, trying to decide how much of class I can attend before I have to dash to the airport to catch my flight (thank goodness my Uni is in front of the airport—one for you UNLV)
I mean it is not easy. When I get back from a trip late Monday night, I still have to report to work at 6:00 am the next morning (meaning I need to be up by 5). When you’re only in town 3 out of 7 days in a week, it gets exhausting and it becomes hard to focus at times, but it is the price you have to pay for wanting this kind of lifestyle. (This was my life for a whole semester: 3 days in town, 4 days traveling).
Since then, I have learned how to effectively travel often without wearing myself out too much in the process and still making sure that my grades and in class performance weren't suffering!
Here are my Top 5 Tips:
1. Travel During the Weekends
Okay duh. I know this is an obvious tip, but you would be surprised at the amount of times I have to remind people that traveling as a student is not completely impossible. You have a two day “break” every week! While a two day trip isn’t completely ideal, you can make it work! Leave on Friday after your last class and come back late Sunday night or super early Monday morning before your first class if you really want to stretch out your trip. (Although, I do not suggest the latter at all. I’ve done a trip where I came back super early before my first class and let’s just say I was not the happiest camper that day).
Bonus: Take advantage of holidays and long breaks. There are multiple times throughout the semester when you will have long breaks and holidays. Take advantage of it to skip town! The tickets might be pricier, so plan ahead so you can get some cheaper prices!
2. Take advantage of plane time/waiting for your flight at the airport
This is one of the most important lessons I have learned from traveling all the time while still having classes to study for and homework to do.
There is so much “in between time” that you have when you are traveling: waiting time for boarding (anywhere from 1-2 hours), in flight time (this can really vary), and even just time you can set aside every day. Take advantage of every free moment you have (moments you would otherwise spend doing nothing) to work on your schoolwork. I always bring my homework, readings and assignments with me. Sometimes I read/do homework on the plane or at my boarding gate or even on the subway/car ride to my destination. One time I even brought my entire Microbiology textbook because I had an exam the day after I landed. Yikes. But sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do to make it work.
I will say that it definitely takes a lot of discipline to make use of all the free time you have. It took me awhile to become really good at this and actually hold myself accountable because most of the time it’s easier to forget about all my responsibilities and just partake in all the fun. But if this is something you really want to do while being a student, you have to make sure you are staying on top and not falling behind on your schoolwork. It takes a lot of sacrificing and learning how to say “no” to some things during your travels to get this habit down, but it is the only way this kind of lifestyle will work unless you want your grades going down the drain.
3. Schedule classes 3 days/week or even 4 days if you can get away with it
I think the beauty of college is being able to choose your class schedule and tailor it to what you want your week/days to look like. This is especially helpful in my case because it allows me to choose a class schedule that allows me to work AND travel! I’m part of my Uni’s Honors College and one of my favorite perks is having first priority before the rest of the uni students to choose my classes, so this really plays a big part in allowing me to tailor the exact schedule that I want. Most of the time, I try to schedule my classes to only be 4 days a week (Friday’s off--it is way cheaper to fly out Thursday night after my classes). I’ve gotten lucky some semesters where I only have class 3 days a week (Tuesday-Thursday), because 4 day weekend every week! Or even got extra lucky one semester when I only had classes Tuesdays and Thursdays.
That being said, this usually means I have class from 8am - 5pm in order to accomodate my full course load.
4. Take online classes or classes that meet once a week
Going off of #3, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to have online versions of my classes for the last few semesters because it allows me to be able to do my work while still traveling. It also minimizes the amount of in class time and days I have to be on campus. So try to take an online version of your class whenever it is offered!
5. Have the right travel gear
I cannot stress how important this is when it comes to traveling as a full-time student. One of the biggest reasons why it is so easy for me to travel so often is because I am a very light, “grab and go” type of traveler. I only ever travel with a small carry on or a backpack, because the whole process of checking in a bag, waiting for it, and the possibility of having it get lost just does not appeal to me. Traveling this way saves me so much time (that is usually wasted) and allows me to make the most use of every minute while traveling. Plus, when I am traveling during the semester, I’m really not leaving for more than 3-4 days at a time so there is really no need to travel in excess. At least, that’s how I do it!
That being said, it is so important to me that I have the right travel gear to allow me to effectively accomplish this light, “grab and go” type of traveling. My Samsonite UBX Backpack has been a lifesaver through all my jet-setting. It's the perfect size for bringing on planes and stowing under the seat. (Which is especially helpful when flying budget airlines that literally charge you for EVERY. LITTLE. THING). I’m looking at you Frontier and Spirit. When looking for a backpack to take on my constant travels with me, I look for something that is versatile, sturdy and well built. Basically something that is high quality and could last long term. The best thing about this backpack is that it is so roomy (I could even fit enough clothes in it to last me for a week trip) AND it has a separate compartment for my laptop--which is a vital necessity for me when I travel. As if that wasn’t already enough reasons to love this backpack, it also makes for a great everyday backpack that I can use throughout my trip while going out and exploring the city I am visiting.
And that’s pretty much it! I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked this question and how many times I have had to tell my friends and family that it is completely feasible to travel frequently as a student as long as you find a way to make it work. I honestly never thought I’d find myself continually trying to make it work so that I can travel often.
Yet, here I am packing for my next trip as I finish typing this post.
Hope this helps (and answers some FAQs)!
Til’ Next Time,
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Samsonite on behalf of the UBX Commuter Backpack campaign. As always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Vogue in Vegas possible!