Spring break is only two and half weeks away, so if you haven’t planned your spring break trip yet, you might be in the throes of last minute planning. Here are a few tips for saving money and planning wisely, whether you’re an experienced spring breaker or if it’s your first and last time, because #senioryear, baby.
Visit a walkable city. Depending on where you go, it’s easy to get stuck driving or forking over cash for taxis and Ubers. Before you know it, you can drop hundreds of dollars in just a few days at your chosen destination if you’re not careful. Pick locations that are pedestrian-friendly and require minimal driving or Ubering — Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Minneapolis, and San Francisco are pretty walkable cities with public transit options that aren’t too expensive.
Stay with friends, family, or use Airbnb. When you’re choosing your spring break destination, make sure the locations where you know you can crash with friends or family are first priority. Couchsurfing at your aunt’s apartment or your best friend’s house can save you literally hundreds, and as a college student, you know you don’t have oodles of cash to spend on hotels. If you pick a spot where you can’t stay with fam or friends, check Airbnb before looking at hotels or bed and breakfasts. Airbnb offers some pretty amazing deals — like entire condos, apartments, or houses in beautiful locations for a discounted rate. The average Airbnb room is at least half the cost of a low-end hotel and usually much nicer, so be kind to your wallet, take advantage of the sharing economy, and open up an Airbnb account.
If you’re driving, pack food. Yeah, this may make you “the mom friend,” but if you can save money on meals by bringing packable snacks like bagels, peanut butter, protein and granola bars, then do it. Save your cash for going to a cool restaurant or burger joint once a day, if your budget allows. You don’t need to dine at exotic eateries for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day of the week. If that doesn’t drain your wallet faster than all those student loan payments you’ll have to make when you graduate, I don’t know what will (apart from maybe taxis or Ubers).
Be open to weird flight times. If you’re flying, don’t be afraid of taking awkward morning flights or middle-of-the-week trips, because those are often the cheapest. If you spend a lot of time looking at Google Flights, you’ll notice airlines often seem completely arbitrary about slapping prices on different flight times. Google Flights is a superior search tool compared to Kayak, Expedia, and CheapOair, so use it to find the cheapest, fastest flights available. This is spring break, and you’re a probably a poor college student — don’t turn up your nose at flying on a Monday or taking a 7:00 a.m. flight if it saves you a couple hundred bucks.
Use an app. There’s a host of apps catering to travelers: TripIt (which compiles one trip’s multiple itineraries into one master itinerary), PackPoint (which creates packing lists), Wanderu (which helps you find the best train and bus ticket deals), FireChat (if you need to message someone and you don’t have a signal, data, or WiFi), and others.
If you’re travelling to a city, see if you can use the app Citymapper, which helps you find the fastest route to different locations (users say it’s better than Google Maps). Another great one for cities is Time Out, which is basically the app-version of an enormous catalog of events, concerts, festivals, restaurants, bars, museums, and other fun things to do. You can use Time Out to find free events and free food, which is a huge plus for a college student on a budget.
If you’re travelling with friends, make sure you have Venmo or Square Cash so you can split costs easily.