How I'm Doing Spring Break on a Budget

It may be 26 degrees Fahrenheit outside with icy winds and barely any sun, but it’s February and that means everyone is starting to think about spring break. No school for at least a week and the chance to fly out to somewhere warm and sunny? Yes, please. 

At the sound of the words “spring break trip,” most college students assume you’re talking about a whirlwind trip to Florida, Mexico or the Bahamas, with wild parties, the perfect swimsuit and a boatload of expenses. If that’s not your speed, maybe you’ve looked into more lowkey options for a week-long getaway whether that be a local rural hotspot, a road trip to another state, or a staycation. I found myself browsing around for cheap flights within the country and to lesser-known destinations in Europe. Here’s how I’m doing Spring Break 2020 without breaking the bank! 

  1. 1. It all starts with the flight...

    ...but the destination isn’t always the dealbreaker for whether your trip is going to be affordable or not. Your airfare will be a decent chunk of the money that you spend, but a cheap flight to an expensive destination may cost you fees for lost baggage and extra weight and may not offset the amount you’ll spend during the week. Instead, look to see if you can either find an alternate mode of transportation (car, boat, cruise, rental, etc) or redeem airline “miles” that you may have racked up from previous trips. Sign up for the email subscriptions of cheap flight websites, and use a private browser to make sure that you’re getting the best deals possible when poking around on the internet for plane tickets.

  2. 2. Stay at a hostel, an Air BnB, or pay for a bed in a dorm-style hotel

    If you aren't traveling with a large group of people and therefore can't just rent out a place and split the cost, say, eight ways, save money by staying in a smaller space with potentially more people. Safety should always be your highest priority, and no frugal vacation deal is worth putting yourself at risk. However, once you have determined the level of privacy that you are comfortable with, there are always good housing deals to be found. Youth hostels and dormitories for solo or pairs of younger travelers are a great option if you’re looking for a place to crash at night for cheap.

  3. 3. Save up a stash of cash in advance

    It’s never too late to start a Spring Break fund! Okay, maybe the day before your flight takes off is a little too late. However, any influx of cash that you didn’t expect to be able to rely on can function as a stash for spending on food, shopping or souvenirs. Your 2020 tax refund, extra pay or tips from work or birthday gifts or other monetary gifts from family should be set aside to make sure you’ve budgeted enough to enjoy your vacation. You could even go so far as to open up another savings account with your bank to make sure you put the money in a separate account that you can’t touch. Seeing the numbers add up will motivate you to continue contributing to this account. If you don’t want to have another bank account to deal with, keep a note on your phone or jot down the numbers in your notebook every time to specifically save an amount for your trip.  

  4. 4. Keep an eye (or two) your food budget

    I’m talking about packing granola bars and hitting up local grocery stores for inexpensive breakfast options. Maybe plan a picnic for one of your meals instead of sitting down at a cafe and paying for food, drinks, tax, and tip. Use Yelp to scout out local hole-in-the-wall spots instead of eating at overpriced or chain restaurants. Street food is also both a great deal and an immersive experience if you’re in a foreign country!

It’s great to be able to do spring break in a frugal way, but the whole point of going on a trip during this week is to enjoy the experience. All of the planning and budgeting beforehand is to make your life easier for the duration of the break. Make sure to enjoy, have a good time and maybe splurge on something that’ll make your trip one to remember!