This morning, I woke up with a 103 degree fever, sore joints, and a splitting headache. Of course, I thought to myself, I should have gotten my flu shot this year. After dousing myself in DayQuil, I went to the student health clinic and was told by the doctor that I can’t attend classes for the rest of the week due to a pretty severe case of the flu. Welp, I thought to myself, this sucks. But, after an amazing weekend in New York, I’m admittedly pretty glad that I got sick after the fact.
As I moped to myself in the waiting room of the clinic, some pretty travel photographs on the wall caught my eye. Afterward, in a bed-ridden, influenza-inspired frenzy, I began to think about travel and how it has greatly expanded my college experience. Of course, learning about new places first-hand is always a fantastic supplement to any classes or homework. That part is obvious. But then I thought to myself, my college experience has definitely affected my travels too. How can thinking like a college student improve the way you travel? See for yourself!
7. Living in a dorm. Most college students live in dormitories for at least one of their four years of school. Living in the dorms often requires students to share a room, a bathroom, and common space with at least one other person. On top of that, dorm life requires adapting to new environments and building relationships with those around you. The same is true while traveling, especially while staying at a hostel or CouchSurfing. Having respect for those around you while being courteous and friendly are critical traits to possess while traveling.
6. Adjusting to strange sleep schedules. Think back to when you pulled your first all nighter. More than likely, it was during your days as a college student. As a student, my sleep schedule is always messed up – some nights, I’ll stay up until 5 AM, while other nights I’ll go to bed before midnight. When I took my recent trip to Europe, I found that getting over jet lag was so easy because I’d pulled a ton of all nighters studying for exams the week before. Next time you’re jet lagged or even just on a weird sleep routine, think about a college sleep schedule and you might get the extra kick you need!
5. Trying new things. Most people go to college thinking that they want to try something completely new. For me, I decided I wanted to learn to sail and dance salsa when I came to college. Others will try a new sport, take some unconventional classes, or even befriend unexpected people. When you travel, the same holds true – trying new things heightens your experiences. Taking the college student mentality of going out on a limb and trying something completely outlandish may help you create some of the best travel memories of your life.
4. Seeking an education. Why do people even go to college? Well, of course, to get an education. Why do people travel? A lot of the time, for the exact same reason! College enables you to take classes that interest you and major in something you’re passionate about. When you travel, you have the same liberty to learn about whatever interests you! If you like history, visit the destination’s historical sites. If you like music, attend a local concert. Like college, travel enables you to learn new things about an unfamiliar place, just by being there and speaking with locals and enjoying the scenery.
3. Time management. One of my most stark realizations in college was learning how to effectively manage my time. With no set homework times or reminders about deadlines, students are on their own to figure out when they can complete their assignments. However, this means that students also learn to dedicate specific amounts of time to specific things. While traveling, this can be important so you get to see everything you want to see in a given place. If you have a list of things you want to do in a place, you have to budget your time in order to fit it all in, much like a student manages time for schoolwork, extracurriculars, and friends.
2. Being frugal. If you didn’t know this, more often than not, college students are always broke. Even when you work during college, money somehow always disappears faster than you know it. Consequently, college students are always saving money and budgeting for their next expenses. They have to make conscious decisions about what is worth spending money on, and what they can live without. Having this frugal mentality while traveling will save you money while also minimizing unnecessary expenses. Thinking like a broke college student can help you budget more effectively and reduce extra costs. Even if you aren’t actually broke, everyone likes to save a little bit of money here and there!
1. Walking everywhere. This one, though also obvious, is my #1 tip because it is the most important thing I do while traveling. In college, most of my friends do not have cars, and therefore have to walk, bike, or use public transportation in order to get anywhere. Doing this just opens up your eyes to so much more. When traveling, walking enables you to find places you may have never heard of before. Walking lets you hear the sounds of a place, smell the scents, and see the way of life that characterizes the culture there. By walking, you not only take an active approach to traveling, but you may stumble upon local places that you would have never seen otherwise.
Next time you’re traveling, try to think like a college student. Taking a new perspective might just help you get the most out of your travels.