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Traveling on a Dental Student Budget

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You only get to experience your 20's once in your life -- a time of learning and exploration. As many of you know, I moved to Columbus on my own about two and a half years ago and it has been the best decision of my life. Throwing myself in to a new environment solo forced me to step outside of my comfort zone and to meet new people. Now that I am approaching the end of my third year in dental school, I have been constantly asked, "Where do you see yourself after graduation?". This is such a hard question for me to answer because not only do I fear commitment, I also have not seen enough of the country to pick a concrete place to develop my future practice. However, in 2016 I made it a goal to travel the country and explore many new destinations. Here are a few tips on how to travel while on a dental student budget.

#1: Make friends across the nation. By becoming heavily involved with ASDA and having attended many national conferences, I have been blessed to meet countless dental students from the West to the East. Learning about each dental school from my colleagues has been a delight, but actually traveling to these destinations has helped me learn that not all dental schools are the same. Making connections has helped me save hundreds in hotel costs by crashing on couches.

#2: Apply for an airline credit card. Many airline credit cards, like Southwest and Frontier, offer bonuses if you spend X amount of dollars within the first few months of having that card. Although we all try our best to budget within dental school, many of us have to pay rent and groceries and can therefore expense these onto the credit card. From there, you can use your bonus miles to save on future flights, a luxury I have already taken advantage of.

#3: Get involved with ASDA. Many local chapters make valiant fundraising efforts in order to fund members to attend the national meetings. As I found out what this organization has to offer, from advocacy efforts to professional engagements, I became involved and was able to attend many of the trips to attend national conferences. With ASDA, I have been to Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Milwaukee, Orlando, Ann Arbor, and Washington D.C. – all of which would not have been possible had I not put in the effort to become a leader within my local chapter.

Although traveling can be quite expensive, I feel that these tips can help alleviate travel costs and help open our eyes to the beautiful country. You never know when a career opportunity may just be a quick trip away.