How to Pay off Student Loans Fast & Still Travel
Traveling the world is high up on the bucket lists of many. And in today’s social media age that desire comes to life via endless accounts detailing idyllic tropical havens, bustling cityscapes, and high-adventure destinations.
From skiing the Alps to visiting Machu Picchu, there’s so much to see and do—but with all those adventures comes a price tag. Millennials are one of the most travel-focused generational groups. While other segments of the population are cutting back on traveling expenses, millennial families continue to spend on travel. According to the 2018 to 2019 Portrait of American Travelers Study , millennial families intend to spend 15% more on travel in 2018 than they did in 2017.
Millennials place a strong emphasis on travel, but they’re often left with the question of how to pay off student loans fast. According to the Pew Research Center , about four in 10 American adults under the age of 30 have student loan debt. While the amount each individual holds varies greatly, on average those graduating from a four-year college have approximately $32,731 in student loan debt.
All that said, we’re here to let you know that traveling the world while paying off student loans fast could still be an option. Here are our nine tips for how to pay off student loans fast while still traveling the world at the same time.
1. Travel in the Off-Season
There are a few benefits when it comes to traveling in the off-season. Cheaper hotels and flights paired with smaller crowds make traveling in the off-season a sound way to cut down on costs. Instead of planning a European vacation during peak-season in the summer, consider visiting during the winter months.
You’ll find more affordable lodging and airfare, while also avoiding the hordes of tourists flocking to Europe’s iconic landmarks. Peak season varies for different destinations, so do a little bit of digging on your top locations before you plan your trip.
2. Select Destinations Based on Cost
London, Paris, and Stockholm may be at the top of your travel list, but when one of your goals is paying off student loans it may be a good idea to revisit your vacation wish list and add some more affordable locations.
Look for travel inspiration and pick out a few less expensive destinations that you’d like to explore. Want to get away to an island paradise? Head to the Komodo Islands in Indonesia. Want to explore the cultural riches of Mexico? Head off of the beaten path to Oaxaca for some of Mexico’s best food and energetic, colorful town squares.
3. Work While You Travel
There are many ways to earn a living and travel at the same time. There are countless programs for teaching English abroad and, depending on the location, you can make up to $5,500 a month .
Another option for making money while traveling is finding freelance or remote work. Freelance jobs for writing, editing, photography, web design, and more are out there. Take a look at your skill set and see what remote or freelance work might be available to you. This way, your income isn’t stagnant as you gallivant from country to country.
4. Budget Effectively and Track Your Spending
One of the best ways to make sure you have money for both traveling and for paying off student loans fast is to track your spending. Take the time to create a budget. Gather your financial documents and tally up all of your expenses, including student loans, rent, utilities, insurance, and food. Then calculate your income and list any savings you’d like to prioritize.
After reviewing this information, it’s time to take an honest look at your spending habits and see where you could improve. Maybe you’ve been spending $30 a week on coffee and it’s time to cut that expense to save money for adventuring. Creating a budget and tracking your expenses help keep you accountable so you can reach your goal of traveling and paying off student loans fast.
5. Travel with Friends
Traveling with friends is a great way to reduce your traveling costs. Take a road trip with a few of your best buds and you’ll be able to split the cost of gas, lodging, and food, making the trip more affordable.
6. Pay More than the Minimum
A great way to meet your financial and travel goals is to make more than the minimum payment on your loans. Since there is no penalty for prepaying most student loans, prepaying can go a long way toward accelerating your student loan repayment. Try tacking on an extra $20 a month to see how much this could impact your overall payment plan.
7. Make the Most of Credit Card Rewards
Many credit card companies offer travel rewards or cashback as part of their rewards programs. Use these benefits to your advantage and make them work for you.
8. Be Flexible with Your Travel Plans
One of the best ways to save a little bit of cash when traveling is to be flexible with your travel plans. When you are booking flights, instead of picking a destination and travel dates, try picking just one and see if your flexibility in location or travel dates saves you a bit of cash.
Often times, flying out midweek is less expensive than flying out on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. If you’re willing to fly overnight or add an extra layover, you may find even cheaper airfare options.
9. Consider Refinancing Your Student Loans
If you’ve ever thought that you can’t afford student loans and traveling, consider refinancing your student loans. Refinancing gives you an opportunity to take out a brand-new loan, with new payment terms, and a new interest rate.
With good credit and earning potential, refinancing your loans could also lead to a lower monthly payment, which means you could increase your travel budget for your next trip. Another potential perk of refinancing your loans is making them more manageable—instead of juggling multiple monthly payments, you could just have to worry about one.
When it comes down to it, life is too short for you to put your traveling dreams on hold. Take a look at our student loan calculator to see what your new monthly payment could be after refinancing your loans.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.