Spring Break season is almost upon us! Books, tests, professors-as much as we might like school, it's always good to take some time off. In fact, you're probably saving money and planning as we speak. Even if your parents are made of money, though, it still helps to know how to save as much as you can while you're away. Cutting loose and living it up for a week doesn't have to be expensive. To help you with this, here are a few tips about how to save money on Spring Break. “Living it up” includes drinking for a lot of people, so I wrote this article with that in mind.
1. Be Realistic
One of the best and most important ways to do Spring Break on the cheap is to be realistic about where you're going. Unless your break is particularly long (my college gave about one week), you're not going to want to go too far away because places like Europe or Hawaii have at least an 8-10 hour flight, depending on where you're departing from. In other words, it will take all day to get there and back, leaving you less time to have fun with your friends. Going on a road trip is a much better option because at least then you can talk, move around and play whatever music you want without having to worry about other passengers. Better yet, go on a cruise. Half the fun is the boat itself.
2. Go in on a Room/condo with a Big Group
A lot of your cost will depend on how many friends you're going away with. Unless you know someone near your destination (or have a house there yourself), go in on your accommodations with a big group. After all, it's only fair that everyone pitch in. If you can, find a room where you can walk to the beach, parties etc. If nothing else, it will keep you off the road.
3. Consider Staying in a Hostel Rather than a Hotel or Condo
Depending on where you're going, it might be a good idea to stay in a hostel rather than a hotel or condo. It's usually cheaper and you're probably not going to spend a whole lot of time in your room anyway.
4. Switch to Using Cash Only
This is a good thing to do anyway, but leave the cards at home and only bring cash when you go out. It's just so easy to mount up costs and forget about how much you're spending when all you have to do is slide a card. Carrying cash instead of cards will force you to monitor your spending; once you're out of cash, you can't spend anymore. Period. Plus, some places probably don't accept cards anyway.
5. Plan Wisely
If you don't already know where you're going or staying, look around to find the best deal.
If necessary, use a travel agent. There are agents and websites specifically for helping students find decent deals on Spring Break. studentcity.com. If you're going on a cruise, be sure to leave plenty of money aside for shore excursions because that is often where the lines make their money. Ditto resorts.
6. Raid the Grocery Store First
As tempting as it may be to sample the local cuisine (whatever it might be), you will save a lot of money in the end if you stock up on food and drinks beforehand. This doesn't mean you can't have anything; you're probably going to want to eat out or whatnot as part of the total experience, especially if you go on a cruise. It's just that the little bits-a pizza here, a latte there-adds up quickly. Plus, that leaves more money for souvenirs.
7. Do Most of Your Drinking in Private
This is related to the above, but you will save a lot of money if you do at least some of your drinking (if you drink at all) before you go out. I say this because alcohol is expensive anyway, but the drink prices at clubs and bars are often obscenely high during Spring Break. Why do they charge so much? Because they can, that's why. They know that people are going to live it up and do things-like get drunk-they wouldn't do normally and won't think twice about the prices. Don't let them suck you in! Better yet, don't drink at all and save money that way. Just an idea.
I hope I've given you some ideas about how to save money on Spring Break. It's not just about knowing “shortcuts”, there's also value in learning how to avoid hidden fees and/or other types of scams. This isn't to say that agents/cruise lines/etc are going to cheat people but, if they do, it will probably be a Spring Break-er they'll cheat. What about you? Do you have any tips about how to save money on Spring Break but still have a great time? What kinds of trips did you go on, if any? As always, don't drink and drive.