That’s right ladies, spring break is just around the corner (well, almost… can’t it just be here already?!) and it’s time to start thinking about what an amazing time you’re going to have partying it up in some exotic location with your besties. But as an intelligent and responsible collegiette™ you want to have a blast without completely breaking the bank. Sounds impossible, right? What with all the fancy restaurants, drinks on the beach and shopping trips, how could you possibly keep your spending to a minimum? Obviously you’ll want to splurge on some things, but here are some tricks to still having a great spring break without killing your bank account.
- Make your plans early. Okay, so it may be a little bit late for this tip, but in general when planning a vacation, it’s a good idea to start figuring out where you want to go and who you want to go with well in advance. This is because the earlier you book travel reservations, whether they’re plane or train tickets, the cheaper the seats that you find will be.
- Sign up for Travelocity. Websites like Travelocity, Expedia, etc. keep track of price changes on flights and even hotel bookings, so if you sign up you can get notices about the best fares for your location of choice.
- Negotiate. It may feel silly, but you can definitely bargain with hotels about getting their best rates and discounts. For example, in some hotels, you can get a discount if you have AAA (which you should have anyway!), and you can almost always get group discounts. Which leads me to my next point…
- Travel in groups.Hotels, airlines and other travel companies will often give you a group discount if you’re traveling or staying with enough people, so grab a bunch of your girls and figure out where you can get the best bang for your buck.
- If you don’t want to fly…Carpool to your location and split the gas money! Make sure you do the math on your expenses though – gas isn’t cheap these days and you’ll probably be making some stops on the way – so flying or taking a train may end up being cheaper in the end.
- Overweight baggage. A big no-no. Whether you’re flying or taking a train, overweight baggage costs extra, and it probably means you’re bringing a lot of things you won’t end up needing. Pack thoughtfully – don’t bring 10 bikinis when two or three will do, and don’t bring five pairs of heels for when you hit the night life. Speaking of clothing…
- Don’t buy your clothes there. If you’re headed for a major tourist location, the price of that to-die-for dress will undoubtedly be much more expensive on the boardwalk or in the popular local mall than it would be back at home. Unless you lose your luggage or realize that you forgot underwear (which could be an issue with that one minidress…), try to avoid too much clothes shopping when you get to wherever you’re going.
- Souvenirs. Be careful when you’re buying trinkets in local shops as souvenirs for yourself or others. It may not seem expensive (I mean, come on, it’s $2.50, what’s the big deal?) but in reality those little expenses add up. Try not to snatch up every cute shell bracelet or funny shot glass in sight (though let’s face it, a few couldn’t hurt…)
- Develop some basic culinary skills. Find out if your hotel/resort has a kitchenette in the rooms. If so, go to the grocery store and make some cheap but yummy meals yourself. You’ll be saving the expense of going out to eat for every meal, which can be rather extravagant, and you’ll have fun cooking up some late-night spaghetti with your friends. Of course you can still go out to eat occasionally, but try not to make it a habit for every meal.
- All-inclusive deals. If you managed to get one that sounds like a dream come true (airfare, transportation, hotel accommodations, meals and drinks??!!) check to see where there might be a catch. Make sure the location of the hotel isn’t in a sketchy area and that there’s not a hefty entrance fee to the beach. Also, ask if there’s something that most people do, such as renting motor scooters every day because the only real entertainment is on the other side of town. Remember: if it seems too good to be true, it just might be.
- Be careful about transportation.Try to find out what the safest method of transportation is in the area you’re headed to. If the taxis are expensive but the bus system is not the safest, find out if it’s safe and convenient to walk most places. If not, taxis might be your best option, and you’ll have to add that to your budget.
- Check yourself. At the end of every day, check how much you’ve spent and how much money you have left. Before setting off to your destination, add some padding to your budget (about 15%) for emergencies or unexpected expenses. But don’t touch it! You never know when you might need it, especially if you’re somewhere relatively new.
- Medical insurance.Check to see if you’re covered wherever you’re going. If not, contact your insurance company and see what they can do to help you. Sometimes companies have a temporary traveler’s insurance add-on that they can give you for the amount of time you’ll be away, and if they don’t they can tell you where you can get it. You don’t want to have an unexpected medical emergency in a strange place and have to pay for the expenses out of your pocket!
- Keep things simple. Face it – some of the best times you’ve had with your friends have been when you’ve just lazed around gossiping, sharing stories and having girl talk. You don’t always need to be going to a club or a bar to have fun. Lazing around on the beach, getting your tan on (don’t forget the sunscreen!) and ogling hotties might be the highlight of your trip, so soak up the fresh ocean breeze and take advantage of the free fun.
There are always ways to save money and still have a blast, so don’t think that just because your budget may not be as big as you’d like you won’t have a great Spring Break. Just get creative, use as many of these tips as you can, and you should be on your way to Beach Bum Heaven with your buds in no time at all.