Managing money is tough as a college student. Bad habits like grabbing coffee on the way to class can affect your financial health, and we all know it can be extremely hard to change them once they’re a part of your routine. Yeah, a couple dollars here and there won’t necessarily hurt your bank account, but the charges over time can have a big—and unexpected—effect.
With spring (thankfully) approaching, students everywhere are jetting off to exciting destinations, so we thought it’d be helpful to gather some tips from students on how to save money on spring break without sacrificing the enjoyment of your long-awaited time off. Because just like those bad habits, the money spent on big trips can seriously add up. From traveling in a group to avoiding tourist traps, keep reading for 15 ways to save your hard-earned dollars and still have a blast.
- See your school’s travel agent for deals and promotions: “For my spring break, we booked a cruise through a travel agent for a large group, and she found a way to cut costs,” says SUNY Oneonta student Nicole Paradise. Great deals may only be a walk across campus away, so take advantage of your student benefits to reap the rewards.
- Travel with a group of friends to split costs: “Going with a lot of people always cuts down the cost because you can all split the price of like an Airbnb or contribute gas money,” says Julia Michael, a student at Liberty University. Make priceless memories by traveling together while also cutting expenses.
- Be flexible with your itinerary: Kate Barschdorf, a student at St. Cloud State University, says, “Look at flight costs multiple times and consider flying in to different places. The airfare changes daily and varies for different airports.” Experiment a bit and be open to new plans to find what works best for your budget.
- Opt for lodging where you can cook: Derrian Douglas, a student at Bergen Community College, says, “My friends and I pay a little extra for a place that has a kitchen, but the extra money we spend is never as much as we would lose eating out every night.” If the food isn’t what you’re traveling for, save on meals and eat in.
- Bring your own food: If you want to avoid spending a fortune at the airport, Wayne State University student Raquel Escamilla recommends stashing something to munch on in your carry-on. “So many people don’t know this, but if you are taking a flight, bring your own snacks. You can also take an empty bottle through security and fill it up by your gate to save yourself from paying three dollars for water while traveling.”
- Consider hitting the road: Julia Michael, a student at Liberty University, says, “You don’t have to take an extravagant vacation—just going on a budget-friendly road trip to get to your destination can still be a lot of fun.” Create your ideal playlist, pile into the car, and sing your heart out for hours on end with all your best friends to avoid high ticket prices (and potential flight cancellations).
- Research hotel alternatives: With all the options out there, there’s no need to pay a lot for a room. “Instead of a pricey hotel, check Airbnb. The site has affordable rates that are much more friendly on the wallet. You can also see the ratings so you know you’re getting a good and safe place to stay,” says Anna Gavalick, a student at Bradley University.
- Create a budget and stick to it: Rhyarna McBride, a student at Columbia College Chicago, recommends creating a plan for how you’re going to spend your money. “Budgeting is a great way to save a lot of money, as well as avoid hassle. Planning where I want to go and making a set budget for how much to spend at each place I’m going has helped me immensely with my trips.”
- Use apps to find deals and coupons: Temple University student Gili Cohen suggests using Hopper or Skyscanner to find cheap airline tickets, while Belmont University student Lillian Jones recommends Groupon for discounts on trips and activities. It may take a bit of research, but the money you save on deals you discover can have a big impact on your wallet.
- Forgo a big suitcase: If you don’t need to bring a lot, consider not checking a bag. “Pack all your stuff in a carry-on, or if you fly airlines like Spirit that charge for carry-ons, pack everything in your free personal item,” says Elyse McFeggan, a student at Marquette University. It may be difficult to fit the things you need in a small bag, but the money you save can be spent on something fun you’ll appreciate more.
- Bring along your student ID: Student IDs can get you discounts more often than you would think. SUNY Oneonta student Alexa Jackson says she’s found that a lot of food places and museums will give you small discounts—savings that can really add up after a week of activities and eating out.
- Take advantage of public transportation: “I’m going on a trip for a few days, and I’m taking the bus instead of the train, which is half the cost,” says Alexa Jackson, a student at SUNY Oneonta. It may seem like a lot of effort, but public transportation is handy when you don’t have a strict schedule and want to save some cash.
- Avoid tourist traps: “I think the best way [to save money] is to ditch overrated popular destinations and try to look for local or hidden gems near those places instead,” explains Devyn Dominguez, a student at Northern Illinois University. It’s so much fun to visit places that are unconventional and have their own quirks, so don’t be afraid to give them a try.
- Opt to stay in a neighborhood in walking distance of your plans: Cali Despommier, a student at Wichita State University, suggests traveling somewhere that has “lots of things to do near where you’re staying so you don’t have to travel far and pay more.” Avoid the costs of renting a vehicle and purchasing gas on your trip by taking in the sights while walking to your destination.
- Skip expensive activities: Sure, mini-golfing is fun, but planning something different to do every day can seriously drain your bank account. To save those dollars, Barschdorf recommends finding adventures that don’t cost a dime. “When traveling, I have found that many of the best views and fun activities are free, like hiking or having picnics on the beach.”
Going somewhere interesting this spring? Tag @cfashionista on Instagram to show us your adventures!
Featured photo by @moniqaaaa.