Hot, sandy beaches and faraway places on a college student budget can make those spring break trips seem like distant dreams. From flights, accommodations and food to everyday activities, the cost of a good spring break can sky-rocket. But fear not! That Instagramable trip is within reach with these 5 handy hints to get your dream spring break–without breaking the bank.
Related: Yes, You Can Afford to Do All the Fun Things You Want in College — Here’s How to Save For It
- Set a budget—and stick to it
This might seem like the easiest tip out of them all, but set a budget for yourself! Know exactly what you have to spend and figure out where you can go and what you can do for your budget. Check out this site to help you figure out your exact budget, and what expenses you’ll have such as transport, tipping and eating out. A budget will also help you to prioritize what you want out of your trip. Would you rather rent a jetski at the beach or have a breakfast buffet every morning? Do you mind doing your own cooking while travelling, or would you prefer a hotel with a pool and balcony? Each choice affects your budget and will limit what you can and can’t do on vacay.
- Set up price change notifcations
Organize yourself before spring break, and set up price notifications on travel websites for flights and accommodations. This will notify you when prices change and it is such an easy way to make sure you get the most bang for your buck! There are several websites and apps that are marketed towards students, but Expedia or STA Travel are good places to start for your next search! You should start looking at trips as far in advance as you can to get an idea of what days are cheapest to travel and how long you should go for. You’ll also be able to see if prices drop significantly before you book. If you can manage it, try to travel towards the end or beginning of spring break season to avoid the expensive holiday surge pricing.
- Consider staying local
Staying closer to college or home for spring break puts less stress on your wallet. Compare the costs of staying near home (or with a friend or relative) and all other local travel costs (train tickets, gas, short flights, etc) with the costs of flights to the other side of the country, a hotel, transport, etc., and you can see what you can swing! Look for destinations closer to home or if even consider a staycation! Exploring your own town in-depth can be just as exciting, and better for your bank account!
- Travel (& pay) in groups
While most people already plan on traveling in groups for spring break, make sure to split the bill on the higher cost items, like accommodations and experiences. Ensuring that everyone pays their share makes it fairer for everyone cost-wise, while also helping to figure out exactly what everyone wants out of this trip. Want to stay at a hotel with a pool? Figure out the cost for everyone. Deep-sea diving? How much per person?
Paying in groups also helps you realize where costs can be cut. If everyone is unhappy with the price per person, figure out if there’s somewhere you can cut back. Does everyone need a separate bedroom or can you bunk together? Sites like AirBnB will be a cheaper option accommodation-wise when travelling in groups, and will help you stick to a budget by showing the total costs and filtering out properties by what you actually need.Try assigning one person in the group to one part of the budget, which they can then organise and gather everyone’s share. Get someone to organise a grocery list while somebody else comes up with housing options. Little choices can help to lower the cost for everyone and, ultimately, create a budget-friendly trip for you!
- Look out for hidden fees
You’ve found the perfect place to stay that fits everyone’s budget and wants. There’s a pool, a bar and it’s close to the beach. You turn up, and all of a sudden there are more costs! You have to pay for extra beds, wi-fi, laundry, toiletries and other costs that you didn’t plan for. If you’re travelling internationally, look out for roaming fees on your phone and international fees on your card. Certain places might also have rules around tipping, so look out for that wherever you head! Make sure to identify all charges associated with wherever you’re travelling to before you commit, but set aside an emergency fund in your budget just in case something comes up that you didn’t plan for.
- Pay in cash for everything
Travelling around a city and enjoying yourself on a credit card might feel awesome in the moment, but just wait until you check your accounts. Credit cards are great at not really making us aware of what we’ve spent until it’s already gone. Try withdrawing cash whenever you make a trip out somewhere, go shopping or eat out, and allocate yourself money for the trip. This way, you won’t be broke before the end of the trip and you won’t go into overdraft at the souvenir shop!
Spring break definitely doesn’t have to break the bank, and can be an amazing trip (or staycation) with a bit of forward-thinking and planning. Once the adulting is done for your budget, you’ll be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy your spring break!
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