As college students, traveling seems to be something we always want to do but at least feel we can never afford to do.
When we see $500 airline tickets, it’s hard to not feel this way. But there are ways to mitigate the cost while also experiencing what a city or region has to offer. Traveling on the cheap can be incredibly rewarding — if you know how to do so from the start.
Rules and tips for cheap travel isn’t the same from city to city, however. You have to create a specific plan for each individual place. Here are several tips and recommendations for one of Logan’s nearest destinations: Salt Lake City.
The benefit of SLC being a mere 90-minute drive from Logan removes the necessity of both exorbitant airline tickets as well as hotel accommodations. A simple day-trip can still expose you to much of what SLC has to offer. $20 gives you far and away enough gas to cover the round-trip mileage as well as intra-city driving. Split between four people and adding the fact that TRAX is free in much of downtown, transportation to, around and from SLC is relatively infinitesimal.
Yes, eating out at a local restaurant can be more expensive than eating at McDonald’s. The question, though, is will you remember that quarter pounder in a week? Probably not. The food can make the trip, and there is plenty to be found in SLC. On a day-trip, breakfast is often cut out to save expense. If you are looking for brunch-style meal, look to somewhere like Pig & a Jelly Jar or Penny Ann’s Café. Both serve familiar American fare for around $10 a plate. If you’re looking to go smaller than the typical café portion, bagel and coffee shops are always a good bet for a small bite. The Bagel Project just north of Liberty Park should be on your radar.
Lunch and dinner can often be melded into one group, especially if you’re looking to keep your tab within the $10-20 range per meal. A personal favorite for both midday and dusk is Bruges Waffles & Frites right near Pioneer Park. The Machine Gun, a baguette filled with two lamb merguez sausages, Belgian frites, and topped with Andalouse sauce is one of the finer meals in the city and only $10. A Ricky burger topped with onion crisps, a cone of frites or a simple waffle are all also excellent options. Cheddah Burger and Rich’s Burgers ‘n Grub are also fine establishments for those looking for a burger experience.
If you’re meat-averse or simply aren’t feeling a burger, Buds over on Broadway offers a stupendous and creative array of vegan selections like the Barbacoa burrito with grilled jackfruit and black beans or zucchini chocolate chip cookies. A meatless option might be good if you want to follow it up with a stop at R&R BBQ, a meaty paradise. I’ve eaten ribs and brisket in Kansas City, Memphis, and Alabama — R&R can hold its own. If you’re staying late in the city, the Green Pig Pub is open until 2 a.m. serving a wide arrange of bar food alongside frequent live music and 13 TVs.
Entertainment and Attractions
Unless you want to sit for several hours in between meals, you’re gonna want to find something to do. There’s two options: free or not. Several attractions around town, such as The Leonardo Museum or the Tracy Aviary, do offer student discounts if you’re willing to drop $10 on admission.
If you prefer to scrimp and save on your activities budget, there’s no shortage of options. A vast amount of hiking trails on the city’s edges are available, as are ‘hikes’ through downtown taking advantage of the window shopping always available in large cities. While City Creek and Trolley Square might not hold truckloads of excitement, there is something to be said about a conglomeration of stores and businesses in one place.
Outside of the centers, there are many gems throughout SLC’s streets. Ken Sanders Rare Books contains thousands and thousands of, well, rare and antique books and can be a worthwhile peruse through its shelves. Also keep tabs on places like the Gallivan Center that bring in frequent conventions and festivals, often free to visitors. Pioneer Park hosts the Downtown Farmers Market every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. running from June 10 to October 21.
Oftentimes, we deride SLC for not being like LA or NYC, but what really is? Salt Lake City is close, vibrant, growing, and full of opportunities for the traveling visitor. For anyone looking to explore, you could do far worse than spending your time here.
Daniel Hansen is addicted to sports, food, music and travel — but not necessarily at the same time. You can find him on Twitter @thegranddanny