Financial Resource Center

Money Management

Spring Break on a Budget

by Michelle M. Haas-Dosher, CCUFC / February 27th, 2017

For most college students, the fun and freedom of a spring break adventure is a rite of passage. Just thinking about Daytona and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Mazatlán and Cancún, Mexico, and Breckenridge, Colo., to name a few "hot spots," can make a college student giddy with anticipation. But wait, not so fast. How are you going to go on that dream vacation on a limited budget? First, put the heady excitement aside until you get to the pool or the slopes. Next, take time to engage in vacation planning homework. The following tips will get you started on pursuing that perfect spring break getaway.

Money saving strategies

First and foremost, shop around. Don't be wooed by the first spring break travel package, website, or brochure offer you find. No matter where you're headed, ask for student discounts at rental car agencies, hotels, sightseeing attractions, and air/hotel packages. If a hotel doesn't offer a student discount, ask for a group discount—often honored if you rent a block of rooms. Use common sense. You've probably heard this scenario before: A student is telling others about a fabulous, low-cost spring break vacation. The cost, including airfare, airport transfers, and hotel, is an inexpensive group travel package based on four students booking the trip and sharing a room.

So what's stopping you from signing up? Maybe nothing, but maybe plenty. Scrutinize the details, and you won't be fooled into paying hidden costs like extra fees for maid service. Always ask for references before buying a travel package.

Travel by car

Sure, it takes longer to get from point A to point B by car, but you may be able to save a bundle if you drive to a destination closer to home. You'll also save money if you travel by car and stay with friends along the way.

Rental property

Consider renting a house or condo instead of staying at a hotel. Check out sites like airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO. Read reviews before booking.

Practically free vacations

Take your bike along if your car or van has the space. When you reach your destination use public transportation (ask for student discounts), or ride your bike to save money.

Camping in "undesignated" camping spots (remote and usually free), can save you a bunch of money as well. But, keep in mind remote camping entails its own risk and responsibilities. For example, the camping ethic is to leave no traces. Ask about costs, he says. The only cost involved generally is the food you bring along. Contact the ranger station at national forests and state parks for maps about finding undesignated camping spots.

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