The Ultimate List of Cheap and Affordable Vacation Ideas for Broke College Students


After sleepless nights of studying for those big tests and wracking your brain to finish those academic papers, you need some time away from grabbing those straight A’s. But, after tuition costs and late night coffee runs, many students fear the price tag of going on a fun trip with friends.

But fear not. Believe it or not, there are plenty of affordable vacation spots out there.

Whether you’re looking for some sunshine during your winter break, some fun during your spring break, or a new experience during your summer break, we have you covered.

Let’s get started.

Cheap Spring Break Destinations for Broke College Students

If you are looking for crowds of college kids, sunshine, and some nightlife action, the beach should be your next spring break destination.


Daytona Beach, Florida

This twenty-three-mile long strip of beach is a very popular spot for college students on Spring Break. Even in March, Daytona Beach’s sun is shining brightly, with temperatures in the 80’s. On the beach, there are a multitude of activities you can do, including beach volleyball, rock climbing, or renting a motorbike to drive down the beach on. Hotels offer cheap deals for staying right on the beach. Daytona is also known for its wild but affordable nightlife. Many nightclubs are within walking distance of the beach, but Daytona also offers its own Party Bus that will take you from the beach to several different nightclubs for free.


Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Another famous spring break spot for east coasters, Myrtle Beach is a great spot to relax on the beach or let loose in the nightclub. Known as the “Grand Strand”, the beach is cut into three sections – The North End, Central, and South End – each filled with inexpensive bars, clubs, and live music hubs to hang out in. Myrtle Beach offers affordable hotels, or you can split the cost between friends by staying in a Beach Party House, located right on the beach.


South Padre Island, Texas

South Padre Island, also known as Spring Break Island, has a vast amount of fun activities for you to try, all while being affordable. You can fly board, sky dive, zip line, surf, and much more right off the beach. Since South Padre has great weather all year round, one thing to consider to make the trip all the more affordable would be to go during the off season. Instead of going for Spring Break, try during Winter Break or over a long weekend. Besides beach activities, the island offers luxurious spas to relax in, and a huge nightlife scene to enjoy. Before you go, make sure to check on the many free or low-cost events the island hosts throughout the year to make sure you don’t miss out.

Budget-Friendly Winter Vacation Ideas for College Students

If the beach isn’t your thing, try taking a skiing trip. There are many resorts and websites, such as College Ski Trips which offer all-inclusive skiing deals for college students at amazing prices.


There are quite a few places with awesome deals to check out, but here are three:


If you are craving that stamp in your passport, try a trip to Canada, specifically Quebec or British Columbia. With well-known mountains to ski such as Mont Tremblant and Blackcomb, you will find great package deals to invest in so you can ski and rest without breaking your budget. If you aren’t looking to ski the entire time, these locations are also great for sightseeing and trying some tasty food.


If you’re looking to stay in the states, Colorado is for you. Colorado is a popular destination for college students on spring or winter break. Much like Quebec or British Columbia, because Colorado is home to some famous ski mountains, there are plenty of affordable ski packages available for students.


Like Colorado, Maine is a great choice for those who want to stay in the states for their skiing adventures. Maine boasts a world-renowned ski resort and slopes that many are eager to try. Despite this, there are very affordable package deals that include skiing fees and housing, specifically for college students.

Inexpensive Travel Ideas Students Can Plan on a College Budget


Take a Road Trip in the U.S.

Although paying for gas can become pricey, road trips are often more affordable than flying and staying in a hotel, and they can also be a lot more fun. If you’re looking for a good time with close friends, road tripping would be ideal. Take a trip down the east or west coast, or even stay in one state; explore it from one end to the next.

To cut the cost of hotel stays, trying camping. Some camping sites make you pay for the night, but many are free to stay in. Plan ahead and you will be able to find a free campsite every night you’re gone. To save on food costs during your trip, pack a couple of coolers of food.

To make your road trip even more fun, come up with a cool destination. A few ideas would be going on a tour of National Parks or ending the road trip at a Music Festival. Another fun idea would be to invest in an Amusement Park package deal and go visit a few amusement parks with your friends.


Backpack Through Europe Without Breaking the Bank

If you’re willing to pay for the plane ticket, then backpacking through Europe is another great option for an affordable college vacation.

Once in Europe, there are plenty of planes, trains, and automobiles that will get you wherever you need to go at low costs. To sleep, hostels are very popular among college students to stay in. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, you can also try couch-surfing with those you meet.


Volunteer While You Vacation

If you’re looking for a fun, affordable summer trip, Project Abroad is an organization that allows college students to travel internationally while also giving back to the countries they visit.

Instead of paying to stay in a hotel or hostel, you stay with a host family who house and feed you. In return, you do volunteer work in the place you are staying to earn your keep. This is a great option for those looking for volunteer work or a way to be immersed in a new culture for a summer without burning a hole in your pocket.

Voluntourism offers plenty of places to choose from, but here are a few:

  • Thailand
  • India
  • Costa Rica
  • Ghana
  • South Africa
  • Fiji

Affordable Destination Vacation Ideas for College Students

If your idea of the best spring break trip includes sights to snap, you may be in need of a destination vacation. The key to cheap destination vacations? Go in the off-seasons.


Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a great choice for those who want to feel like they’re abroad while staying in the States. The country is a U.S. territory, so no passport or money exchange required. Yet, you won’t feel like you’re still in the States. With sandy beaches and the tropical heat, it is perfect for a relaxing getaway. Although all seasons are affordable, it is best to go in the off-season for cheaper deals and fewer tourists.


Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is a fantastic option for those who want an amazing view without escaping the urban scene. The Falls are closely located to both New York and Canada, which gives you the opportunity to choose one to explore or both. The site offers breathtaking sights that will fit nicely into your Instagram feed, and there are plenty of affordable hotels to stay in after your adventure.



With European travel comes the initial plane ticket cost, but cheap hotels, food, and transportation help make Hungary a very affordable option for those seeking the ultimate destination vacation. On the streets of Hungary you’ll find cheap food options, and to stay there are affordable hotels or hostels. At the moment, the U.S. dollar is worth $0.0034 for every Hungarian forint (Hungary’s currency). This means that the currency helps widen your budget, as you will not be spending as much in U.S. dollars as you might traveling somewhere else.

Final Thoughts on Cheap Vacation Ideas for College Students

Depending on the season and your tastes, you will find there are so many exciting places you want to go to relieve some of that school stress. Whether you’re looking for an international trip, a road trip, a service trip, or one with a fun destination, there are plenty of cheap vacation spots for you to choose from.

When it comes to costs, choose wisely. If one option would be easier and more affordable, go for that option. Or, if one trip catches your eye more than the others, stay home one year and save up to go on that trip the next year.

Whatever vacation you choose, make it fantastic. Make sure to let loose, dance, eat, and rest as much as you want to.

Emma Hanson

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