If you’re one of the millions of travelers ready to get away for spring break, you’re probably confirming reservations right now and counting down the days. But you also might be worried about how this get-away is going to affect your finances.
No spring break trip is worth breaking the bank over. The good news is that there are ways to cut down on your vacation spending without cutting out the fun. Here are some of our budget-friendly tips for saving money while enjoying an awesome adventure.
Be a Deal Junkie
With a little bit of planning (and online exploring), you can take advantage of deals that are perfect for travelers. Check out sites like LivingSocial, Group, Yelp and Restaurant.com for pop-up bargains as you go – and don’t forget about online promotional codes and discounts, too. And you know those booklets and brochures displayed in your hotel lobby or tourist attractions? Grab them and see what’s inside, as they feature coupons, maps and other special offers.
Meet the Locals
Meeting new people is part of the traveling fun, but it also serves a great secondary purpose. Locals know the best places to go, and can tell you what attractions are worth checking out without being overpriced. Locals can save you money and time with valuable recommendations for restaurants, activities and other things to do that aren’t as well known.
Say No to Junk
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and open your wallet to cheesy souvenirs or expensive trinkets that only end up in the bottom of a junk drawer. Yes, it’s fun to go all-out on vacation, but try to limit your shopping sprees to meaningful purchases (and stay away from tourist traps). If you find yourself getting sucked in to a possibly regretful situation, be willing to walk away – at least momentarily – and see if your impulse fades with distance. And remember, most of the things you see on store shelves can be found online at cheaper prices.
Keep it Legal
Whether you’re traveling nationally or abroad, be aware of local rules and regulations. Pay special attention to road and highway rules, and what actions can get you pulled over or in trouble. For instance, some states don’t allow drivers to ever be on the phone. Also, be aware of any noise ordinances, curfews or restrictions on the beach or in area parks. The last thing you need is a ticket or brush with the law, which could mean hefty fines or worse.
Last-minute packing might be your mode of operation, but it can also translate into frivolous spending. Make that list and check it twice. Forgotten sunglasses, shoes, hats or swimsuits mean a trip to stores once you’re at your destination, which are often way overpriced. Bring what you can from home and spend your money on more meaningful items.
BYOB (and food)
Whether it’s soda or alcohol (if you’re legal age, of course) and other beverages, if you can take your own, you’ll save a bundle. Same goes with snacks and other dry goods. If you’re traveling in a group, divvy out your food and drink list ahead of time, and avoid hotel or area store prices. If you have access to a kitchen at your hotel, scope out groceries or discount stores in non-touristy areas, then eat-in for one or two meals a day.
If possible, choose destinations and places to stay that won’t require a rental car, and will have good options for public transportation. Even better, choose lodging that is within walking distance of your primary destination, and look for bike rentals and other easy (and cheap) ways to get around.
Consider Optional Housing
With a little online exploring, there are plenty of alternatives out there for vacation rentals, spare bedrooms, apartment swapping opportunities and hostels. Look for nontraditional options (and good deals) through sites like Airbnb, VRBO and couchsurfing.com.
Belly Up to the Buffet
Nice restaurants and unique dining experiences are certainly worth the splurge, but it doesn’t have to be for every meal. Check out local buffets or all-you-can-eat specials in restaurants. And instead of eating out for three meals a day, limit your dining out expenses to one main meal a day, and eat snacks or store-bought meals for the other two.
Find Those Freebies
Make use of any on-site discounts like complimentary breakfast or afternoon happy hours. But beware of your in-room costs, like marked-up popcorn and the mini-bar.
How Do You Save?
These money-saving ideas are some of our favorites, but we know there are plenty more ways to trim those spring-break costs. We’d love to hear about the ways you save money – please share your ideas and leave your comments below.