Secrets to Traveling (Cheap!) After College

Saving money but not skimping on the sights when traveling abroad

“Get paid to travel.”

It sounds alluring, right? Though not every career straight out of undergrad or grad school promises travel-friendly lifestyles, there are some careers that foster the love of travel and even require it. If you’re not up for a career change into something more travel-friendly, we still have helpful tips and tricks to save some bucks going abroad.

How to Finance Travel: Continued Ed or Job

Though these aren’t the only ways to study or work while abroad, these are great, open-ended options for recent graduates who want to continue learning and working while traveling.

Fulbright U.S. Student Program

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is a paid position to research, study or teaching in more than 140 countries worldwide. 

Fulbright scholar

Marianne Craven is the acting deputy assistant secretary for academic programs at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. We talked to Craven about the Fulbright programs.

“Fulbright U.S. Student Program application numbers are at historic highs,” Craven said. “The Fulbright U.S. Student Program operates in more than 100 countries, and applicants have continued to affirm their interest in countries where fewer Americans have traditionally studied and in their cultures and languages.”  

Craven said that Mexico, South Korea and Brazil are some of the top countries that Fulbright students, called Fulbrighters, can go for study.

Though the most popular program is the teaching assistantship, other programs include grants including the Hillary Rodham Clinton Fellowship for graduate school alumni, Fulbright-mtvU Awards for creative music placements and Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling fellowships for using new digital media to craft stories.

Traveling As a Flight Attendant

Being a flight attendant has always sounded fairly glamorous. Men and women serve drinks and snacks, tell you where the emergency exits are located and ask you politely to “sit down, please” during take-off.

“You get to see the world and you get paid for it; that’s a lot of fun,” said Ivan Noel, the president of Inflight Institute—one of the top pre-qualification programs for most U.S. flight schools. “The experiences and the people that you meet are really incredible.”

At Inflight Institute you take a class online and become certified for flight school entry, where you learn the specifics for the airline that you’ve signed with.

flight attendant

The certification programs depend on which country you’re in, as there are different rules in different countries for flight staff. The certifications take on average about 30 to 70 hours to complete, according to Noel.

After course completion, the newly certified candidate’s name is loaded into the database for hiring airlines to peruse.

Noel said that benefits of a certification program such as InFlight are visibility in terms of getting yourself seen by airlines as a hirable flight attendant candidate. Inflight Institute is one of the only certified training courses for flight attendants before flight school held by the hiring airlines.

“There are a lot of opportunities not only for national but international airlines,” Noel said. “Also, many airlines [attendants] receive travel benefits. You can take reduced airfare and hotel accommodations for holiday. It’s a great opportunity for the avid traveler to have a career and travel at the same time. It’s not a normal 9 to 5.”

How to Travel: Tips to Save Money on Transit

Eurail: Your New Best Friend

EurRail is your way to cheaply get from one European country and region to another by train. The real secrets are the 7 pm rule and the perks associated with EurRail pass.

The 7 pm rule is put in place if you have a pass on the EurRail system for 15 days within two months. This means you can travel 15 times in two months for the price of one pass, but technically every time—almost—that you board the train, that’s a day of travel.

Except for the 7 pm rule. Using the 7 pm rule and an overnight train can save you a full day of travel. The night train has to board after 7 pm and arrive at its location by 4 am, which would technically be two days of travel if not for the 7 pm rule.

There are also discounts and deals that you can get through EurRail’s local partnerships. In some countries you can ride ferries for free, get hotel and attraction discounts in addition to other extras that you receive through EurRail.

EuRail train

Benelux Route: Eurail's Secret-ish Discount Rate

The Benelux Route on the Eurail is a trail through three countries—technically–for one price because of political history. Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are three areas—once countries—that are now unified as one country. 

The Benelux route is a great way to get in three regions and cultures on one fare. 

City Passes and Seeing the Sights on a Shoestring

When you’re heading into a big city such as Paris, look for attraction ticket deals. Recently released, the ParisPass combines a few hundred Parisian attractions and visits to local landmarks in one ticket price.

Paying one ticket price to a travel company, the city pass allows you to visit several attractions, monuments and museums. These city tickets sometimes give access to some attractions or elements of attractions that may not be open to the public.

 Eiffel Tower, Paris