It seems that 50% of conversations had among my friends are about money related stress. We want to have a good time, but we don’t have the money to do so. Or at least, we think we don’t. Spring break is around the corner (for some, it is upon us!) and you shouldn’t let your three-figure bank account tie you to your couch to wallow and watch reruns of Friends. There are plenty of ways to have a great Spring break without busting the bank. Grab a couple of broke friends and try these on for size:
Have a Staycation
That is, if you’ll permit me the awful portmanteau. When you’re a tourist in a new place, you develop voracity for all things cultural and somehow manage to see everything in a four-day period that locals don’t do in years. Do that with your hometown. Pretend like you only have a few days left there and that you’re never coming back! See and do everything you can. Take the cheesy duck tour and eat at the recommended restaurant. Not only is it the cheapest of the cheap “vacations,” saving you tons on hotel and travel expenses, you’ll get to learn something and maybe even discover a new place that becomes your next regular haunt.
Go on Day Trips
If you’ve just got to get out of your town, there’s bound to be another one not far away that you haven’t visited before. There’s no less costly way to do this than by taking a day trip, via train, bus or car. If you organize well and leave early, it’s pretty amazing how much touring you can pack into one day. The biggest perk, of course, is getting to snuggle down in your comfortable, warm, free bed at home at the end of the day.
Take the Bus
If you are leaving town, busses are one of the cheapest ways to travel, as well as taking the commuter rail or extended public transportation in cities that have it. It’s cheaper than a real train but with the same wonderful time and space for introspection and staring out the window. Pick a place within driving distance and see what the bus schedule looks like! And speaking of looking at the schedule…
Plan Ahead of Time
Everything is so much cheaper if you book in advance. Bolt busses can cost you only $1 if you play it right! Flights, trains and hotels adhere to this rule as well. I understand the attraction to being spontaneous and free-spirited, but your wallet doesn’t. So if you’re trying to save, try and plan at least a few weeks out, if not a few months. The earlier you plan, the less you spend.
Eat and Drink at Home
Even if you’re not home, you can save tons of money by buying food and drink from a grocery store or local market instead of eating every meal at a restaurant when staying in a hotel/hostel. Get that yogurt and granola for $4 instead of $10 and that mixed drink for $3 instead of $15. Treat yourself to a little local dining, of course, but too much is what will really drain the funds.
Go to Museums
For students, many museums are free or at least discounted. Google the best museums in your area and go! Get come culture and learn some stuff on your vacation. There are also a lot of really charming and quirky museums our there waiting to be discovered…so get going!
If you’ve got enough friends with whom to split the cost of gas, a road trip could turn out to be a really good way to save money on travel, no matter where you’re going. Pick a place you’d all like to visit—or for the daring, pick a nearby city out of a hat—and hit the road. Half the fun is the car games, radio singing, fast food eating and just plain getting there. Plus your car can double as your hotel room if you find a campsite…I can’t promise anything about comfort, but it’s definitely cheap!
If your destination of choice isn’t exactly in driving distance, check out AirTran’s student flights. If you are 18-22 years old, AirTran lets you snag a standby ticket for under $100 to many cities in the US (often way under, depending on your destination). The obvious downside is that you’re not guaranteed a seat to your destination before the day of (or more problematic, a seat back), but for those hippie spirits who were offended by #4, this is perfect.