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How to Travel Without Breaking the Bank: Spring Break Edition

Can you feel it – the slightly warmer weather, the increasing excitement?

Spring break is approaching, albeit rather slowly (or quickly, depending on how you want to look at it). Luckily, this provides you last minute planners some time to set a budget. 

This time in our lives is unique; we have some of the most free time we ever will and yet, the least amount of money. Despite the financial hardships, my friends and I have spent the past couple of weeks planning out a trip to Canada for our spring break. In an effort to assure you (and myself) that there are numerous ways to travel while on a tight budget, I’m sharing some tips that we’ve found helpful so far!

Look for cheaper transportation 

Overall, the cheapest trip options involve locations somewhat close to campus. While this can be a little sad for us Northeastern gals, it means cheaper transportation. Think Planes, Trains and Automobiles, but without the planes and with a Megabus instead. You can arrive at your destination well-rested and glowing with pride at the fact that Greta Thunberg would be proud of you. (Suck it, roommate studying abroad in Paris and friends galivanting around California!)

Consider a variety of housing options

Hotels are great and almost guaranteed to be safe no matter where the location, but Airbnb, bed and breakfasts, motels and inns can be great alternatives. Airbnb provides a range of options, from penthouse suites to modest apartments in neighboring college towns. While mansions and penthouses might not be in a college student’s price range, there are a variety of affordable options, especially if you’re traveling with a larger group. (Helpful Hint: If you’re driving to your destination, check the parking availability that comes with your place – sometimes it’s included in the price and other times you have to figure it out for yourself).

Plan meals ahead of time (and a set a general schedule)

It’s pretty simple. If you know where you are going to eat, you’ll have an idea of how much you’re going to spend on each meal. I try to shoot for breakfast in the place (hotel room, Airbnb, etc.) and one more expensive meal a trip. This plan also goes for events during the day. If you have a rough idea of what you’re going to do each day, you’ll know how much money you’ll need.

Look for discounted days

Restaurants, bars, museums, bowling alleys, etc. all tend to have discounted days. These are often from Monday-Wednesday, so keep that in mind when planning what to do each day. Instead of days, there are also often discounted hours as well (e.g. happy hour).

Pay with cash

By paying with cash, it is much easier to see how much money you are spending. Another positive here is that you can bypass any exchange charges on your card when in a different country. In Canada, for example, you can conveniently exchange your cash as soon as you cross the border.

Pick free excursions

There are some excursions that are free to the public or run on optional donations. You can look at museums in the area (this is especially helpful when traveling somewhere cold), sightseeing options, stores to explore and outdoor activities that your group can do.

Remember student discounts

Student discounts don’t just apply on campus! Try to take advantage of student rates in as many places as you can. This will often help you to save a couple dollars for each purchase, which adds up.

Good luck with planning and happy traveling!

Maura is a senior communication and business dual major at the University of Pittsburgh. In her free time, she enjoys trying out new TV shows, spending time outdoors, reading, and attempting to bake on the weekends.