The travel adventures you take as a young adult are often the ones that remain with you for the rest of your life. You’re mature enough to go on your own, but still young enough that you experience all the new impressions as exhilarating. When people reminisce about their most memorable vacations, it’s the spring break trips during college that frequently come to mind.
The only disadvantage of traveling while you’re young is the fact even simple trips can seem expensive. Students have significantly less spare cash to spend on an all-inclusive holiday in Bora Bora or a week in Paris unless Mom and Dad are paying for most if not all of it.
Fortunately, having a good time does not come at a fixed cost. If you make smart spending decisions, you can save a lot of money while still having the spring break of your dreams. To give you an idea of where to make cutbacks that won’t lower your enjoyment, here are 5 clever ways to save money on spring break:
1. Renting a Place to Stay
When you are going on a vacation, staying in a hotel may seem like the logical decision. But depending on where you are going, renting a house, condo, or an apartment through a site like Airbnb can save you a significant amount money.
Be aware however, that while the sticker price of an Airbnb rental may seem cheap, the hidden fees such as cleaning surcharges or special taxes can increase the actual price you’re asked to pay to well beyond hotel levels. It is therefore absolutely necessary that you compare the final prices for both accommodation types, not just the untaxed room prices.
When comparing different offers, you should also consider that Airbnb rentals often come with a number of useful amenities, such as a full kitchen, allowing you to make your own meals and save even more money. You may also have access to a laundry, allowing you to pack less items and maybe avoid checking a bag.
Even if choosing a hotel appears to be less expensive at first, consider extra fees such as parking and WiFi. These are nearly usually free at an Airbnb, while they might cost extra in a budget hotel.
2. Choose a Less-Crowded Destination
It’s tempting to go where everyone else goes when arranging a spring break getaway. However, when it comes to economical travel, it pays to go against the grain. When you choose a popular location, you oftentimes agree to pay a higher price. Traveling during a busy time of the year is already more costly, so try to save money by choosing a less-crowded destination.
Instead of going to New Orleans, consider going to Charleston, South Carolina, or Savannah, Georgia. Choose Lake Tahoe over Aspen or Breckenridge, and Tampa over Miami. Instead of Cancun or Cabo, visit one of the many resort communities on the Yucatan Peninsula.
When you choose an unconventional spring break location, you will save money on everything, including lodging, food, and alcohol. This gives you more leeway to splurge and less need to worry about your finances.
3. Search for Student Discounts
It’s common knowledge that students may save money on movie tickets and services like Spotify and Amazon Prime. Most individuals are unaware that the same logic applies to travel bargains.
Sites like StudentUniverse can make it easier for students to find cheaper student flights, hotels, and tours. Some public transit networks provide student discounts, and the majority of museums and other attractions provide student rates. Students coming to Europe over spring break, for example, can save up to 35% on rail tickets.
If you are unable to find a student discount at a place you’re visiting, do not hesitate to ask the staff. Some venues might not have anything advertised, but student discounts are sometimes offered when people request one. Remember to pack your student ID card with you when going on vacation to avoid missing out on these special discounts.
4. Avoid Paying Unnecessary Fees
Students traveling overseas for spring break are probably thinking about what to pack in their suitcases, but they should also think about what to pack in their wallets. If you use a debit or credit card during your spring break vacation, you may be charged a foreign transaction fee on each purchase.
Typically, the cost is 3%. You’ll pay $30 in fees if you spend $1,000 on your vacation. Before you go, learn about the costs your credit cards charge and look for one that does not impose a foreign transaction fee.
If you have good credit, you may apply for a travel rewards credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees and may give you cash back on travel-related purchases. Students who do not have a strong credit score might ask their parents to add them as an authorized user on their parents’ travel cards.
5. A Carry-on Is Enough
Some people are massive overpackers. They pack far too many clothes, buy far too many souvenirs, and frequently struggle to even close their suitcase. Overpacking can be costly, as many airlines are quite specific when it comes to excess luggage weight. Overage fees can be a very expensive yet oftentimes very unnecessary surcharge.
Learning to pack more sensibly will prevent those additional fees and entailing pointless arguments with the person at the check-in counter. It will also make it much easier to navigate airports and railway stations. For those who have problems sticking to their budget, a large suitcase may also be an invitation to go on a shopping spree. You’ll be more careful with your purchases if you just have a carry-on.
Unless you travel with Southwest Airlines, bringing a checked bag nearly always incurs an additional cost. Typically, each leg of the flight costs between $25 and $50. Checking luggage may sometimes lead to unanticipated additional costs. When the airline misplaces your luggage, you’ll have to spend half of your first day shopping for clothes and toiletries, which will likely deplete most of the cash you brought. It will also force you to forego the first item on your travel agenda.
Consider how much you really need to bring for your trip. If you’re staying in an Airbnb with a washer and dryer, plan in the time to do a load of laundry. Talk to your travel partners ahead of time so that only one of you has to bring a hair dryer, snorkeling equipment, or other bulky things that can easily be shared.
Hopefully these tips gave you some helpful ideas on where to start saving money when going on your spring break vacation so that a long time from now you can also reminisce about your most memorable trips during your college years.