Traveling the world on a college student’s budget or less

Traveling the world on a college student’s budget or less

By Bobby Feingold

Traveling the globe may not be something college students think they can afford on their budget. However, experienced world traveler Gil White believes money does not have to be an issue.

In his lecture, “Europe and the World for 84 cents a day,” which he gave Sunday in the Curry Student Center Ballroom, White shared his secrets to cheap travel.

“Often students think the more money, the more fun, when it comes to travel,” he said. “But this is not true.”

The event was sponsored by the Council for University Programs (CUP).

White lived in Panama for three months on $300. He also went to Europe for four months on $1,000.

“[Europe] was the biggest trip of my life,” he said.

He spent 118 days there with complete strangers and two days in a hostel. When traveling along the West Coast, he spent every night with students he didn’t know.

“With spring break coming up, CUP thought it was a great time to help students find inexpensive ways to travel,” said Kevin Roche, lecture chair for CUP.

“Traveling makes students think on their feet, on the spot,” he said. “It’s important for students to experience other parts of the world.”

White said students could learn more about themselves in four months of traveling than in years spent in one place.

“Traveling is a great education, along with school and work,” he said.

He also said students should try to travel alone: they will have to be extroverted and meet more people.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time, I stayed in a bed with a roof over my head,” he said.

He encouraged students to stay with strangers.

“Even relatives are strangers,” he said.

White said his adventures have led him to many interesting places, including the home of France’s equivalent of Diane Sawyer.

“You shouldn’t devote much time for where you stay,” he said. “Sight-see until midnight and then pass out.”

Other accommodation options include hostels and small-town police stations if you’re brave or desperate enough, White said.

As far as transportation goes, renting cars is isolating and expensive, he said.

White advises using Europe’s train system or finding rides on the road. He said European drivers don’t mind picking up people on the road. It’s a different culture than in America where people are untrusting; however it’s important to stop travel at sunset, White said.

White’s key to hitchhiking? Grooming.

Looking clean-cut will increase the cross-section of drivers who will pick you up, he said.

White said he advises going as far as one can until the last gas station and finding the next ride there.

Student travelers should take a journal, a radio, a tape recorder and a quality camera, White said. He also suggested taking things to trade with people, like an inexpensive pack of stamps, as an easy way to make new friends.

Students like sophomore music industry major Nani Stoick found White’s tips helpful.

“Spring break is coming up and everyone’s on a budget,” Stoick said. “Especially with how expensive it is to go to Northeastern, cheap travel is so important.”

Stoick said she believes traveling is important for students because it allows them to experience how others live, outside America.

“Americans don’t live properly,” she said. “Other countries are passionate about things. Americans are too uptight.”

Stoick said she understands why some students would feel unsafe traveling alone or on such a small budget, but White spoke to the contrary.

“It’s not dangerous to travel,” he said. “I’ve gotten over 2,000 rides in Europe with no problems. You just have to go with the flow. If anything, you can dispel wrong impressions about Americans.”

White said just showing the effort of speaking a couple words of the language is enough for foreigners to accept you.

“All of us unofficially are ambassadors of our country,” he said.

However, White said students must be ready for things to go wrong and not as planned.

“You don’t want a perfect trip,” White said. “When trips don’t go as planned, that’s when you have unusual stories for your friends.”

White’s biggest advice?

“Don’t get advice from non-travelers,” he said.

While parents may have their student’s well being in mind, they might not always have the correct information about traveling, he said.

White said above all students must be able to relax and enjoy themselves.

“A sense of humor is very important when traveling,” he said. “You have to have an open mind and be very go-with-the-flow. There’s so much to see in this world. Half the fun of traveling is getting there.”

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