12 Tips for a Cheaper Spring Break

Photo (cc) by flickrized

It’s that time of year when college students from all over the country take time off from their academic studies to enjoy a little hard earned fun. But if you’re one of them, or know someone who is, I’ve got a few tips that can make for a less expensive spring break.

1. Either book early or late

Book early when hotels and airlines still have plenty of space and you’ll find much lower prices than if you book a month or two before. On the other hand, waiting until a few days before your trip to book might expose you to some really awesome last minute deals. The only catch? You’ll need to be flexible with your trip plans in case what you want isn’t available last minute.

2. Consider a hostel

Unlike the hostel in the movie Hostel (2005), most are relatively safe, full of unique and interesting people, and cheaper than hotels. Watch ‘Hotels Increasing Hidden Fees’. But before you settle on a particular hostel, read as many reviews as you can. Start with trusted travel sites you know, then move onto sties like HostelWorld.com and Hostelz.com to make sure you’re comfortable with the accommodations.

Here’s a video we did a few years ago on this same topic (“Ways to Save on Spring Break”) that can give you a much better picture of what a hostel will be like.

3. Go “all-inclusive”

Typically, an all inclusive resort, with airfare, hotel, food, drinks and fun rolled into one price, will cost you less than piecing the trip together yourself. But before you book, make sure you do the math. Some places will try and jack up the price for Spring Breakers to the point where it’s no longer a deal.

4. Crowd your hotel rooms

It might not be the most comfortable arrangement, but put as many people in your hotel room as the hotel will allow. You’ll all split the price and share in the savings. Besides, who sleeps during Spring Break, anyways?

5. Carpool

Don’t fly, drive! The way I used to do it, the owner of the car was free and everyone else split the cost of gas; that seemed like a fair trade for wear and tear on the car. It’s almost always going to be cheaper than flying, and no matter how full you pack your car, you should still have more room than an airline seat.

6. B.Y.O.F. (Bring Your Own Food)

Bring your own food and cook your own meals. It doesn’t have to be fancy and you don’t have to replace every meal, either. A box of cereal could easily save $50 or $100 on the cost of breakfast alone. Obviously, those numbers depend on where you’re going and how long you’re staying, but you get the point…

7. Find Happy Hours

Sure, they’ve got great deals on drinks, but Happy Hours are also a great source of cheap food! Ask a local or someone at your hotel for a recommendation.

8. Mix your own drinks

If you are going to drink when you go out, try not to drink that much in clubs and bars. Drinks sold there are usually far more expensive than they should be. Better idea? Buy alcohol at a grocery store when you arrive and keep it in your hotel room. Try to drink that instead of the pricier drinks once you’re out. BUT ALWAYS BE RESPONSIBLE! A trip to the hospital is a massive expense that will certainly put you over-budget, or worse.

9. Consider an alternative destination

A good rule of thumb: If “everyone else” is going there, prices will probably be inflated because of it. Look for an alternative destination that isn’t as popular to save some cash. One favorite idea is to take a skiing vacation instead of a tropical one (as long as you’re not sick of snow).

10. Watch out for scams

A surefire way to rack up travel expenses is by falling victim to a scam. Always use common sense and stick to the mantra: “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” If there’s a company in your hotel selling “discount bracelets” to clubs and bars for $100 while someone out on the street is claiming to sell the same thing for $10, the person out on the street might be too good to be true.

11. Travel in a group

Most companies (hotels and airlines, included) will offer discounts for groups of more than about 10 people. So plan a group trip with a bunch of friends and you’ll all save money. But this is one time you might consider contacting a travel agent as they should know who’s got the best discounts for large groups.

12. Stay in the country or take a cruise

Try to stay in the country; international flights are more expensive than domestic ones, and you’ll run into locals trying to take advantage of tourists. But if you’ve really got your heart set on a foreign locale, try to take a cruise instead of flying and staying in a hotel. Your travel arrangements will be easier since pretty much everything happens on the boat. You shouldn’t have to worry about paying for meals as you go, and any ports where you stop will typically accept U.S. currency so you can avoid exchange fees.

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