Money is tight. So just because you are living on a budget doesn’t mean you have to stay home for Spring Break this year. Going on a spring break trip doesn’t have to be an occasion to break the bank. If you’re vigilant about saving money, you can have a great trip and not come back home broke.
Take some time to plan your trip, budget your finances, and cut back on unnecessary expenditures during the months before your trip. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll have saved by the time you leave.
That being said here are some points to consider before you open your wallet – before and during spring break:
Book With the Hotel Directly
There are a number of companies that are dedicated to student travel. These companies may advertise on your college campus by posting flyers or setting up booths. Booking with these companies consist of you paying a middle-man fee. Booking directly with the hotel, however, means you’re cutting that middle-man fee out, and if you book early enough, chances are you’ll get an even bigger discount. The longer you wait, the more you’ll pay. Just think supply and demand.
Take a realistic look at your finances to determine how much money you can afford to spend on Spring Break. When considering your budget it is important to prepare for the unexpected, so assume everything will cost ten percent more than you expect it to. This way you might end up with a little bit of extra cash to spend and you won’t run short when it is time to pay the bills.
Gas isn’t cheap, but driving to your destination is much less expensive than flying. If you’re traveling with friends, they can pitch in for gas, making it even less costly for you. And if you plan carefully, you can make lots of fun stops along the way to your destination.
Pack Everything You Need
If you have to buy a camera, sunblock or other common tourist items once you reach your destination, you will pay much more than you would have at home. Make a list so you don’t forget stuff like sunglasses, hat, clothes, sneakers and sandals, and whatever else you need.
Bring Your Student ID
You may want to forget that you’re a college student while away on spring break but carrying your student ID can actually be very advantageous. A lot of clubs, restaurants, and attractions will give discounts to students as they recognize you’re probably traveling on a budget.
If you’re going to be drinking, bring your own. Alcohol isn’t cheap, and you won’t immediately know where the best prices and drink specials are on arrival. So bring your own – but only if you’re old enough to legally have it.
Keep your food costs in check. Meals out can be one of the largest – and most underestimated – expense on a multi-day vacation. Stop by the grocery store and pick up at least enough food for breakfasts, lunches and snacks to cut down on overpriced meals served at overcrowded restaurants. Bring a cooler along and shop for food that’s ready to eat (or that you can easily cook) at grocery stores. And if you’re staying at a hotel, take advantage of the continental breakfast if it’s offered.
Discount Card Programs
In addition to the coupon-filled brochures that can be found in hotel lobbies and visitor centers, most, if not all, of the spring break destinations offer students a discount party pass which usually includes happy hour specials at various bars and clubs, plus a wide range of discounts at local stores and restaurants. For example, Panama City Beach offers the Panamaniac Card. Contrary to what you may believe, these cards are designed to save you money. We recommend spending the $40-$50 on one.