As an occupational therapist my life revolves around helping others engage in occupations, or meaningful daily activities. There is no better way I can imagine occupying my time than traveling and experiencing new places. College life is filled with excitement and new adventures, but unfortunately also comes with challenges; stress and financial burden being top of the list. Beat the stress by breaking up your workload and taking some well-deserved leisure time and travel on a budget!

Flying

When you get the travel itch, but don’t have a specific destination or timeframe in mind, skiplagged.com and scottscheapflights.com are your go-to sites for finding amazing deals in a unique search format. You can search by departing airport and these sites will give you the best deals for upcoming dates to various locations across the U.S and internationally.

These are free to use. Simply enter your departing airport and search for deals. Scott’s Cheap Flights will also send you deals to your email, offering discounts of up to 40%-90% off regularly priced flights.

When exploring airports near you, make sure to search for larger airports. While major airports will be more crowded, they will have the best options and deals available.  

Major airports nearest to Central Texas

  • Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
  • Dallas Love Field (DAL)
  • George Bush Intercontinental/Houston Airport (IAH)
  • William P. Hobby Airport (HOU)
  • San Antonio International Airport (SAT)
Male waiting at the airport with luggage

Road Tripping

Don’t discount a good road trip to some local sites. Road trips offer the luxury of enjoying the scenery, moving at your own pace, and spending quality time with yourself, a pet, or loved ones. There are several options when choosing to hit the road, including driving a vehicle, taking a bus, or even taking a train.

When preparing for a road trip in a vehicle, make sure to check the safety of the vehicle. At the very least make sure your tires are filled with air and have sufficient tread, your oil is fresh, and you have a full tank of gas. Consider taking a vehicle that is reliable and has good gas mileage for additional savings. Finally, take the opportunity to check out your route before you leave. You never know when you might encounter the world’s largest rocking chair or a real ghost town along the way.

Busses and trains are other very affordable and enjoyable options for traveling by road. While they may have several stops and take longer to reach your destination, they are often cheaper than driving and provide an opportunity to be around other people. They also have functioning restrooms on board which can save time on bathroom breaks, especially when traveling as a group. 

Either way, you can’t forget the snacks. Pack a cooler or a small insulated thermos to keep with you or in the trunk so you can always have a cold drink and can make sandwiches as you go.

VW bus driving through canyons

Budget-Friendly Activities

Now that you have arrived, the options for occupying your time are limitless. 

If food is your calling, try saving money by grocery shopping and cooking some of your meals. By preparing sandwiches for lunch and a group-sized pot of spaghetti for dinner, you can save enough money to splurge on a nice brunch to taste the local cuisine.

Check out the local nature and outdoor activities. Hiking, exploring local water sources, or taking a walk through downtown or quirky neighborhoods are often inexpensive or free. 

Explore the local culture and do as the locals do. Tourist attractions, restaurants, and shops in the touristy areas are often expensive. Take the road less travelled and try some local eateries or food trucks, check out a local festival or farmer’s market, or explore the arts or music scene. This will save you money but will also teach you a lot about local culture and expand your view of the world.

Girl with mask and backpack

Safety first!

Covid-19 has impacted travel and socialization this year and will likely continue to do so as we enter into 2021. Please make sure to practice health and safety measures as you navigate the world and feed your adventurous spirit. Make sure to check the CDC guidelines prior to making any travel plans and continue to monitor for updates.

Love talking about meaningful occupations and the impact they have on mental and physical health? Us too! Come see me in the Occupational Therapy Department in Hardy Hall anytime to learn about how you can continue to engage in the things you love and enjoy with those you love and enjoy.