Money College: Bargain student travel, and a place to crash, too

student travelSure, college can be fun when you're not being bogged down with unreasonable readings, extensive exams and lectures that seem like they will never end. A vacation could represent just what you're looking for, but the last stress you need is planning a trip.

And whether you're getting away for a week of spring break or a semester abroad, student status equals your ticket to savings.

Set to jet
Planning a getaway can feel overwhelming and without even trying, you can run up quite a travel tab. A good start is signing up for the International Student ID Card, which offers discounts on nearly every aspect of travel: museums, flights, hostels and guided tours. The company also promotes working with STA Travel, which has helped student globetrotters for more than 30 years.

Whether searching for discounts on flights, hostels or tours, STA Travel offers guidance through its Web site, a 24-hour national call center or 18 U.S. store locations. They also deal in travel insurance, which can end up saving you if you run into any number of travel snafus. And if Skype is not sufficient for keeping in touch internationally, STA also hooks you up with deals on a global cell phone.

Student City takes the planning out of travel with student packages. A cruise through the Bahamas or a party in Panama City are just two of its trip selections. The company promotes free drinks and celebrity parties. If this sounds like a cheesy stereotypical college spring break, it's because ... it is.

But don't be ashamed if that's your thing; MTV has been partnered with the company since 2005 and was featured on the Real World Cancun in 2009. While an MTV spring break is not for everyone, Student City makes it a reality for those students who want to come as close as possible to their 15 minutes of MTV fame (or infamy).

Get gone

If you are more of DIY travel agent, there are plenty of means to get from one place to the next -- from rental cars to planes and even trains.

For rentals inside the U.S., both Budget Rent- A-Car and Avis offer 20% off a rental through the free online service, Student Savings Club. However, be warned that those discounts come before hefty regional fees for renting under the age of 25. While car sharing programs may not be ideal for lengthy travel, the student rates may be reasonable for quick spins around town or a day trip. Both I-GO and ZipCar offer discounted membership for students at affiliated universities.

You may prefer the scenery as a passenger rather than driver. A cross-country limo is probably out of the question for a student budget, so Megabus seems to be the best alternative for travel in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. With $1 tickets, people were quick to catch on that the price of a Megabus ticket would barely cover a gallon of gas. Since the prices depend on ticket availability and popularity of given route, the $1 fares can be rare. But included in the trip is a ride on a slick double-decker with free WiFi and sometimes complimentary movies. Megabus covers 28 U.S. cities with hubs in Chicago and New York.

As for trains, Amtrak offers 15% off with a Student Advantage card. From Sweden to Greece, Eurail connects the trains of 21 European countries. They offer a Youth pass for travelers under the age of 25 which totals in at 35% off the adult ticket price.

Like most of the American airlines, Europe's Ryanair has taken the frills out of flying. While it already charges for drinks and luggage and have even considered charging for the loo, Ryanair offers regular deals on travel: flights have been known to go for 5 Euro before taxes. On the American front, United Airlines grants 10,000 frequent flyer miles upon college graduation.

Stay a while
To expedite your travels, Student Universe offer discounts on flights, hotels, rail passes and rental cars with worldwide destinations. Unlike Student Advantage or ISIC, Student Universe membership is free of cost and hassle. From hostels to discount hotels, Student Universe allows travelers to compare prices and check availability.

Not only does HostelWorld unite a community of low-budget travelers, but they also provide listings for hostels, budget hotels and campsites in more than 170 countries. Choose a location and a destination date and browse the pages of available accommodations.

Results can be organized by price, availability, name or ratings given by HostelWorld travelers. Reviews quickly let travelers know which hostels are known for bed bugs and which offer complimentary all-you-can-eat pancake breakfasts. Rankings are also broken down by character, security, location, staff, fun and cleanliness.

So before you sweat spring break or study abroad destinations, consider how to make you travels most student budget-friendly. Come March, you might just find yourself riding a camel in Egypt or living it up MTV spring break style in Cancun.
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