Simone Ledbetter/The Skyline View
Use apps and websites to find the cheapest days/times to fly, as well as the cheapest flights. Some examples of this are Google Flights, Skiplagged, SkyScanner, and Hopper.
Similarly, use websites such as Booking.com to find the best deals for hotels. Try to find locations near convenience stores or markets, and close to transportation. Places such as Japan actually have very decent meals within convenience stores, and Thailand has delicious cheap meals at local vendors.
Utilize public transportation as much as possible. It’s cheaper, and you really get to experience more of the culture as you immerse with the people. But be weary of last call times, as you do not want to be stuck at a location far from your hotel.
Always, always carry cash. Using a credit/debit card alone is not reliable as often times public transportation or vendors will not accept your card, or you may come across an ATM that does not accept even widely known bank. If you are say stuck and do not have enough cash, try to find someone who will give you their cash in exchange for Paypal or Venmo.
In certain countries, do not take restaurant recommendations from taxi drivers. They will send you to the most expensive restaurant and receive a commission from it.
Eat the local food, it is what the people there do best. You are much more likely to have better tasting food, and much less likely to get sick if you eat the local food. The way they prepare their food is often closely related to the environment. For example, how Thailand and Nepal often have probiotic drinks with their meals. The local food is the food they cook best, and you will not find it that amazing anywhere else so enjoy it.
Pack light with compact and multi-use items. They are your best friend. When on the plane and when exploring you will just be more prepared. Getting caught in random thunderstorms in Thailand is only sometimes fun.
Stay away from tourist attractions as much as possible. You can not fully see a culture without seeing the daily life and activity of the people who live there. Immerse yourself in culture. As a college student on a budget, tourist attractions are expensive and you won’t get as much out of the experience. Local neighborhoods and activities are where it’s at.