Spring Break on a Budget

Here at The University of Akron, we typically take our spring break pretty late, near the end of March and the beginning April. This means most other universities have already had their spring break. While I personally like having spring break when it’s actually spring, this does mean that I get to scroll through Instagram at the beginning of March and see all the glossy, gorgeous pictures of everyone at the beach in Florida, South Carolina or Texas.

I can’t help but be a little jealous of the endless partying at the beach because I know that I simply can’t afford to drive or fly that far away. However, I know that I can still have an awesome spring break with my friends that won’t break the bank.

Here are my tips for when a staycation just won’t do, but flying to Florida still isn’t in your price point.

  1. 1. Location, location, location!

    South Padre Island in Texas, Miami Beach, Florida, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, have been spring break destinations for years, so it’s not surprising that not only is it just expensive in general to get there, it’s also more expensive because of its perception as a spring break destination. Consider checking out some other places that are closer to you and don’t get the same amount of attention in March. I went to Niagara Falls, Ontario, with my friends, but I know people who have gone to Toronto, the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee, New York City, Chicago and Baltimore. These places may not be the warmest and there may not be a beach, but there are so many beautiful and amazing sights to see. This can be an opportunity to do something you’ve never done and go somewhere you would have never gone originally.

  2. 2. You can't always get what you want / And if you try sometime you find / You get what you need

    These lyrics from one of my favorite Rolling Stones songs encapsulate my next point perfectly. While staying in a fancy hotel may be super fun and an amazing experience, it definitely doesn’t help your budget. When I went to Niagara Falls over winter break, we stayed in a gorgeous hotel overlooking the falls. The rooms in this hotel were originally over $500 a night but because we booked with Groupon and squeezed a lot of people in one room, we were only looking at around $60 total for each person. When going back to the Falls for spring break we only had three people instead of seventeen, so we needed to find a cheaper place to stay. We ended up staying at a gorgeous Airbnb that was only a 15 minute walk to the Falls. While it wasn’t a fancy hotel, it was exactly what we needed.

  3. 3. Hop it up at Happy Hour

    If spring break is best known for anything it’s for the drunken revelry of college students, and even if you’re not sipping margaritas on the beach you can still drink and save money wherever you go. When we went to Niagara Falls we took advantage of Happy Hours deals at bars and buying alcohol from liquor stores, which is much cheaper than buying drinks at the bar.

  4. 4. Split that bill!

    Even if you’re not a theoretical math major, you understand that it’s always better to split the bill between more people than less people. In this case, three is not a crowd. Try to bring a lot of people on your spring break; it makes food, drinks and wherever you end up staying cheaper. Plus, that creates more friends who can drive, and you can split the gas bill between more people.

  5. 5. Set strict spending limits

    It’s all too easy to go overboard spending money when you’re on vacation. While it’s definitely okay to “treat yo self” on occasion, vacation often turns into a week long, very expensive “treat yo self” occasion. Go on vacation with a strict spending limit. My debit card gets fees whenever I spend it internationally, even if I'm just driving four hours across the border. I decided to take out only $80 in cash and decided that was all I was willing to spend, and I had to stay within that limit because that’s all I had. That may seem a little extreme, but it’s better than going overboard. This definitely came in handy when I went to the casino; it’s easy to go a little crazy with all those slot machines, but I promised myself I would only spend $15 and when it was gone, it was gone.

  6. 6. Get cookin’

    Just like how a drink in a bar is infinitely more expensive than at the store, food at a restaurant is more expensive than making it at home. Plus, big cities and tourist traps upcharge food because they know people are likely to be on vacation and more likely to lose their minds and pay $25 for pasta. In our Airbnb, we had a small kitchen and we were able to cook dinner one night and breakfast two mornings for around $30. Breakfast alone at an IHOP in Niagara Falls is easily $25.