My little brother is leaving for his Senior Spring Break trip to Mexico in a little over a week. Besides being extremely jealous, I’m left to ponder his trip and think back to my own vacation to Mexico just a few short years back. The sun, the sand, and oh the spending! If only I could do it over, what could I have to spare my pocketbook the intense workout that it got that week?
Choosing this year to stay local and save my extra cash for summer, many of my collegiate peers (not to mention family members) will be traveling far and wide to spring break destinations to soak in the sun or to adventure in the unknown. While the time off from classes is needed and relaxing, we often forget to take into consideration the costs associated with many of our trips and end up shelling out a little more than we planned on spring break basics. Whether you’re jetting off to somewhere warm and watery or someplace a little closer to home, there are important saving tactics to remember when you go on spring break. There are three main areas you need to pay attention to if you want to be “saving savvy”. My saving plan focuses on three F’s: Foundation, Food & Fun.
What are the basic fundamentals when it comes to travel? Think about what’s necessary in order to get from point A to Point B and ensure that you 1) arrive, 2) have somewhere to sleep, and 3) are safe and sound. This includes transportation, accommodation, sleeping arrangements, location and area. When you have all of these areas covered you know you have the basic foundation of your trip planned. Where are you going? For how long? Where are you staying? What are the amenities? How much will it all cost? Where can you save?
It’s hard to really crunch numbers when it comes to location and travel but do the best you can! Try to book your trip early and look for deals. Is there an off-season price? An early bird booking advantage? Can you use miles or points? Often, if you are member of an airline frequent flyer program you might have unused rewards that can be converted or put towards a ticket. It is also worth looking into group rates, and special offers with hotels. You might be able to try out different packages, or at least spilt the cost between you and your friends.
After you’ve covered how you will get there, where you will sleep and “live” for the duration of your stay, (and hopefully saved at least on a small scale,) it’s time to focus on other costs that may be literally “eating” your budget.
Food is often the area that breaks the bank in the spring break department. Breakers are so concerned with what and where they go that they forget about all the cash they ‘re spending just on eating. Restaurants get pricey, and please don’t tell me you ever use room service! Don’t do it! Be smart, be savvy and snack often—but do it in your room or from your beach bag! There is no need to spend wads of cash on overpriced hotel food or pricey beach buffets. My favorite thing to do on vacation is to stock up on the food basics and become best friends with the classic PB&J. It sounds strange, but by keeping the kitchen stocked with easy to make, and easy to afford staples you can spend more on other parts of your trips. Drinks can be expensive at the bar, so why not fill the fridge with store bought beverages you can throw in your bag and bring to the beach by hand? Make sandwiches, eat snack packs, goldfish, pasta—anything that is relatively simple will save you time and money. Budget a few meals out with the group and designate specific segments of your cash to certain days or “must have” meals. This way, you won’t overspend and will also be able to enjoy the thrill of being on vacation and dining out! It’s nice to have appetizers at the hotel restaurant, but I bet you anything chips and salsa will taste the same in your room as they do when you pay double for them downstairs! Turn it into an event—the cocktail hour before you go out, have snacks and drinks in your room, so you don’t have to spend money twice!
After food comes fun. Trips are the best time to let your hair down and get loose. You can try new places and activities—but all at a price! Make sure you are looking for deals everywhere you go! I’m a huge fun of group rates, discount offers, and any special that revolves around time. It may sound funny, but give me an early bird rate and yes I will gladly go somewhere extra early and stay until late. Mexico is just one example, but if you’re into nightlife and the club scene, look for specials on covers or happy hours on drinks. Some places, not just bars, will have deals on food and have themes for entry. Sometimes you can even go during the day and find out what kind of specials you can get if you come back later with friends! Regardless of what you’re doing, during the day or night, scuba diving, jet skiing or spa days, make sure you ask for discounts and deals—just by asking you may be able to work something out, plus the worst they could say is no!
Spring break can be wild and fun and full of good memories, however one of your main goals should also be keeping your wallet full! You don’t want to do mindless spending “just because”. Plan ahead, look at details, and prepare a budget. Having an idea of what you want to spend and on what will make you more conscious of where your money is going. Another thing to remember is packing essentials: do you have all the basics? Nothing is worse than paying more for things you could have gotten for nothing at home. Biggies are sunscreen, sandals, sunglasses, gum, etc. If you are in a “spring break” hotspot expect these basics to skyrocket in price, they know you have no other option!
I’m reading Social Psychology