Spring break trips can become the stuff of legend. Yet so can their price tag. A trip to Cancun might be epic, but it’s also going to require an equally epic budget. College students who don’t have a trust fund or parents who are willing to foot the bill likely can’t afford to take such grandiose trips.
However, even if you don’t have a fat bank account, you can still plan a memorable spring break trip. You just have to do a little planning and make a few adjustments to save money and make the trip fit your budget. Here are a few ideas for how you can save money for spring break travel:
The cost of airfare, hotel lodging and other travel expenses are always in flux. The price tag one week may be more or less than the price tag the next, and the cost you find with one provider won’t be the same as another. To get the best bargains, you need to shop around. Look at a variety of comparison websites like Expedia or Travelocity and check back often. Sign up for fare alerts to be notified of deals for your desired destination.
When you find what seems to be a good deal, check with the provider directly. Sometimes airlines and hotels will offer even cheaper prices when you book with them directly (since they pay a cut to these online sites).
Check Discount Sites
There are many sites that are dedicated to providing discounts for student travel or to posting these discounts from other sources. Check out sites like Student Universe and STA Travel for deals. Some airlines – like American Airlines – also have special programs specifically offering deals for college students. Always check out the reputation of a site before you book anything. Sometimes a deal really is too good to be true.
Try Travel Hacking
There are a lot of great ways to save on travel using overlooked tips for getting free frequent flyer miles, which can be used to get free airfare, lodging and other perks. The first thing you need to do is sign up for a good credit card that offers reward miles. You can “churn and burn” by signing up for credit cards that offer a sign up bonus of miles, and then canceling them after you collect the miles. You can use the card to pay for your daily expenses instead of cash, and then use the cash to pay off the bill entirely at the end of the month, incurring no interest but gathering miles.
Another popular trick is to use the card to order coins from the U.S. Treasury, and then cashing in the coins at your local bank. You’ll collect the miles with the purchase, and then you’ll pay off the balance of the card by cashing in the coins. You won’t get any fees or interest in the process.
Take a Road Trip
Driving to your destination is going to be far less expensive than flying to it. However, this will limit your choices to destinations that are within a day’s drive. No matter where you live in the country, there is an exciting destination that you can drive to easily. There are many beaches all along the east and west coasts. Las Vegas is easily reached from many destinations. There are many other great hiking and adventure sports experiences throughout the heartland. Think outside the typical spring break box and you’ll easily find something great that’s within driving distance.
Stay in Hostels
As a college student, you’re already used to meager lodging. There’s no need to change this when you travel. Hostels are available for as little as $10 a night, which can take a huge chunk out of your travel budget. Hostels are located in nearly any city that you would want to visit. As a bonus, most of them include kitchens, which will allow you to make your own food, saving you even more money.
Don’t let your small budget deter you from having a really great spring break trip. Use these easy tips to help you save money on travel and put together a truly memorable trip.
Chloe Trogden is a seasoned financial aid writer who covers specific opportunities such as college grants for minorities. Her leisure activities include camping, swimming and yoga.