If you're between 12-26, the travel industry considers you a student traveler and that means you're eligible for student travel discounts. Travel companies from Rail Europe to Greyhound to YHA offer student discounts, so if you're planning on taking a trip, you'll likely find a way to save money. Discover which of the different options is best for you.
Student Travel ID and Discount Cards
Several student travel ID cards, like ISIC, exist, and they can provide student travel discounts on everything from travel to books and movies. Flashing a student travel ID card at sightseeing sites around the world can often earn you a student travel discount, even if no student travel discounts are advertised. If you're going traveling, definitely pick up a student ID card before you go. Even if you have to pay $20 or so for the card, you'll easily make that money back over the space of a year.
Student Airfares are Cheaper Than Cheap
Student airfares are generally available to student travelers under 26 who are enrolled in school. To sign up for them you'll typically have to sign up with an email address from a college.
Student airfares may give you huge discounts over regular airfares—studenf flights are usually cheaper than alternative flights on Skyscanner. Student airfares are also generally far more flexible than regular tickets. STA and Student Universe are two examples of student travel agencies offering true student airfares, and it is recommended that you look at both if you're planning on taking a trip.
Train Discounts for Students
Eurail and Amtrak are among the many train companies offering student travel discounts. Rail Europe provides a straightforward way to find and buy European train passes on Eurail trains at a student travel discount. In the U.S., Amtrak offers some promotions for student travelers however, discounts are now regional rather than across the board. National trains, like the UK's train systems, may limit student travel discounts to locals (buy a UK Eurail pass instead).
Bus Discounts for Students
Student travelers can grab a 20 percent discount on Greyhound, with a Student Advantage Card. Hop-on, hop-off bus services like Busabout, the European bus service, offer promotions but are really geared toward student travelers, to begin with, so are already affordable. Cheap buses, like Chinatown buses or Boltbus, may offer specials in the United State at times, but, again, are so affordable that you'll likely choose to travel with them anyway. Be sure to book Boltbus as soon as you know your travel dates, as the price only increases as you get closer to your travel date.
Student Accommodation Discounts
Student accommodation discounts are hard to find, as hostels don't really offer discounts to travelers unless you'll be staying long-term (longer than a month.) Having said that, hostel discount cards do exist and promotions can be found in the off-season (i.e. winter in Europe).
YHA and HI offer a discount card for travelers that entitles you to a small discount, and the Nomads Hostels discount card gives you $1 off each night you spend in one of their hostels -- not huge discounts, but could end up saving you money if you'll be traveling for a decent amount of time. For more information check out this list of hostel discount cards.
If you're not a fan of hostel chains, you may want to stay in a hostel anyway. We've seen dorm beds offered for as little as 50 cents a night in Pakse, Laos to just $20 a night in Sydney, Australia, so there are always going to be affordable options for budget travelers. If you need to save money, dorm rooms are definitely the way to go.
If you're looking to spend as little as possible on accommodations and don't fancy the idea of a hostel, there are several options for student travelers.
First, take a look at Couchsurfing, which will be the most affordable accommodation option you have open to you: it's entirely free! Through couch surfing, you'll be able to spend the night on a local's couch, saving you money on accommodations and giving you a more authentic insight into the place where you're traveling. It really is a win-win situation. Make sure to check out your host's reviews before requesting to stay in a place, as you'll want to make sure you won't be putting yourself in an unsafe situation.
Alternatively, if your cash is running low, but you prefer a little more comfort when you travel, housesitting could be the way to go. Housesitting is just what it sounds like: you get to watch someone's house (and likely their pets) while they're out of town, and in exchange, you get free accommodations. As a student, it might be tough to get on the housesitting lists, as owners do like to hire people with renting/owning a property experience, but if you can get great references, give it a go.
Spring Break Deals
Spring break is a great time of year to take a trip if you're under 25, as plenty of companies will be offering student discounts for the month! Groupon usually has some great spring break deals for students, and STA Travel can always be relied on to help you save money.
If you can't find a package that grabs you, you could create your own spring break deal using student airfares and affordable accommodation, like hostels.
Be Aware of the Student Discount Label
Before you jump at a student discount, make sure to spend a few minutes doing your research to see how legitimate they truly are.
Some student discount packages are just normally priced deals that have been repackaged as a "student deal." In order to find out if you're grabbing a bargain or not, shop around on the price to see what else is out there. If you find a cheap student airfare, for example, head to a travel aggregator, such as Skyscanner, to see if you're actually saving money or if you'd be better off just grabbing a flight with a budget airline. It always pays to to do some research over assuming you're going to be saving money.