Everyone wants to have a great time on Spring Break but nobody wants to overpay for it. College students are notoriously broke and need to live on a budget. So why is it that Spring Break destinations and tours think college students are willing to overpay for a week of fun in the sun?
Paying too much for Spring Break is so outdated and a thing of the past. By adjusting your mindset and a little bit of planning, these 12 tips can help you save money on Spring Break so you won’t have to eat Ramen noodles until finals week.
Do Your Homework Before Leaving
You go on Spring Break to get away from homework, not do more of it. If you follow these steps prior to leaving on Spring Break, you will be able to save a ton of cash.
1. Plan Ahead – There is a reason why those travel websites can offer last minute deal on hotels and airfare. The reason is not as many people are flying or coming to stay in their hotel and rather than let the seats or beds go empty, they would rather sell them than “eat” them. The plane is already going to be taking off whether it is half full with full-fare customers or full with half the plane paying half price. This is not the case with Spring Break flights and hotels. The hotels are probably going to be booked well ahead of time so procrastinating will guarantee either getting shut out or getting killed on your room rate. Simple supply and demand. Be the one that chooses a destination and sticks with it well ahead of the Spring Break rush. By planning ahead, you can now target how much you will need to save in order to pay for it all once you get there.
2. Be True to your School – Many colleges have on-campus travel agencies and have insight on great deals. Some up and coming vacation destination looking to attract college students may be running killer deals to encourage students to make their location the next “IT” spot for Spring Break. If you are in a Greek organization or other student group, you may be able to negotiate a group rate. There is power in numbers and if you can guarantee a vacation location 50 to 100 students, they will more than likely cut you a great deal.
3. Power in Numbers (again) – We mentioned there is power in numbers but using group negotiated deals like Living Social or Groupon can really help you save on excursions or meals while you are on vacation.
4. Be Social – Do some research before you go on the location you are going to hitting. Travel blogs and message boards might be a great way to gather information on what restaurants offer the largest portions for the lowest price or which bars have all-day happy hour prices. Finding the hot spots before you go will save you a lot of time and money trying to figure out where to go once you are on the ground.
5. Know the local laws – Some places will allow alcohol on the beach but just not in a glass bottle. Some places have open container laws and others don’t. (That’s why we recommend enlisting Can Covers for those places.) Local law enforcement in Spring Break hot spots have a lower tolerance for shenanigans during the Spring Break weeks than any other time of the year, so be careful. Tickets with big fines can be a huge source of revenue for the local city or county and police may be encouraged to look for easy tickets to load up those local coffers. A trip to the drunk tank can be costly with not only bail money but court costs and fines well after you have left to go back to school.
6. Make a List and Check it Twice – Making a list a week before you plan to leave will save you a lot of money. It gives you an opportunity to think about what you may need and even more time to remember things you may forget if trying to pack in less than 30 minutes. You can check to see if you will have enough sunscreen and buy it locally at a much cheaper price than the convenience store right next to the beach that will mark it up 300% more than your local drugstore. Make sure to put your cell phone charger at the top of the list along with your swimsuit.
Once There, Be Open to Money Saving Ideas
Once you get to your destination, everyone wants to get to having a good time right away. If you are open to sticking to a plan and being flexible to what it will take to stick within your budget, you can come home with more money than you expected to spend.
1. Bring your Student ID – Food and entertainment venues typically offer student discounts. It can’t hurt to try and break out your ID each time you pay for something. What’s the worst they can say? No? If they offer a “Senior” discount, and they mean Senior Citizen but you are a senior in college, see if you can’t play that one off too. If your parents are members of the Auto Club, see if you can book things using their Triple-A card. Again, the worst thing they can say is no.
2. BYOB – More than likely while on Spring Break, you are going to buy some booze. You can’t escape buying drinks at the nightclubs. But you can keep the number of drinks purchased at a bar lower if you BYOB from home. More than likely you will be pre-gaming in your room before heading out for the night. No need to buy a case of beer while there when it is probably cheaper from home. Hotels all have ice machines and bring an ice chest or a way to rapidly cool down your bottle or can. This way you can have a good buzz going before hitting the club scene and you don’t have to pay $15 for a watered down vodka tonic.
3. Be Open to New Places – Sometimes taking the path less traveled can be just as fun as doing the same thing everyone else is doing. You think places like Cancun or South Padre Island are going to lower their rates during Spring Break months? Fat chance. Other places less popular but just as fun offer great alternatives at a much cheaper cost.
4. These Flip Flops were made for Walking – Taking cabs can be expensive. Ride sharing like Uber or Lyft might be less expensive but can still cost you. Your feet and legs are free. Try going somewhere that has good public transportation or bike rentals. By not renting a car and not incurring that expense, you won’t be tempted to drink and drive and we all know what a bad idea that is.
5. The Unconventional Accommodations – Hotels jack up their rates for Spring Break so finding an alternative might be a good choice. Maybe you have a friend that goes to college near a Spring Break destination and their Spring Break and your Spring Break is not the same week. Ask to crash on their floor or couch in exchange for taking him/her out with you in search of some fun. Maybe you have family or friends that live in a location that is a Spring Break hot spot. Just make sure they are cool family friends and won’t get too judgmental when you come home after a few adult beverages.
6. Grub Smartly and Cheaply – Buffets are always a good choice to get a lot of food in your belly for a low price. Some hotels offer a free breakfast and make sure to take advantage of that. Just make sure you aren’t too hung over to make it downstairs before they clear breakfast and you are out of luck. (To make sure you aren’t hungover, check out our Hangover Prevention section.) Reduce the number of carbs you eat and load up on proteins. Carbs burn quickly and make you hungry faster while proteins take longer to digest and you will be hungry less frequently. Make sure to avoid the mini-bar if you get the late night munchies. $12 for some M&Ms and a soda is not a smart way to stay on budget.
What did we miss? If you have a great money saving tip for Spring Breakers, leave a comment below and share it with us.