How to Take a Cheap Spring Break Trip

By Dr Penny Pincher on 15 February 2018 0 comments

Spring Break can be a great time to take a trip and enjoy warm weather a few months before summer kicks off. While heading to tropical locations when everyone else seems to be can easily bust your budget, a Spring Break trip doesn't have to be expensive if you're willing to keep your travel plans flexible and expenses to a minimum. Here are some tips on how to go on a Spring Break trip without spending a ton of money. (See also: 11 Spring Break Budget Busters to Avoid)

Lodging

There are always good deals to be found on accommodations, you just need to get a little creative sometimes.

Hotel hopping

Traveling without making hotel reservations ahead of time can be a good way to save money. By late afternoon or early evening, hotels are motivated to fill vacant rooms and are ready to bargain with lower rates or room upgrades. Another advantage of waiting until evening to book your room for the night is that you have maximum flexibility in your travel plans. You can book a room near wherever you end up each day instead of planning your day around your hotel reservation.

Hotel loyalty programs

Sign up for hotel loyalty programs at all of the hotels where you typically stay. It doesn't cost anything, so you might as well rack up some points toward a free stay every night on your trip. I keep a list of all of my hotel programs and account numbers in my wallet to make it easy to register at check-in. (See also: 10 Surprising Ways to Save Money on Hotels)

Check-in discounts

Many hotels offer a AAA discount of 5 percent to 20 percent off your bill when you present your AAA card during check-in. If you are in the military, you might be able to save on your hotel bill by showing your ID and asking for the military rate. Sometimes you can even get a discount simply by asking the clerk for their best rate or if they have a less expensive room.

Vacation rentals

You might be able to save money by finding a privately-owned room or house at your destination instead of a hotel room. Airbnb and Vacation Rentals By Owner offer tons of lodging options all over the world, so check to see what deals and unique accommodations are available for you. (See also: 10 Vacation Rental Alternatives to Airbnb)

Transportation

Whether you're traveling by plane, train, or automobile, there are plenty of ways to save a few bucks.

Drive instead of fly

It is often less expensive to drive instead of paying for airfare, especially if you have multiple travelers and your destination can be reached within hours. Plus, if you drive, you won't need to rent a car at your destination. Driving keeps you in control of your trip schedule and gives you flexibility to adjust your plans at any time without the same hassle or fees you'd run into via flight.

Minimize your travel distance

You don't necessarily have to head overseas to soak up the sun and stick your toes in the sand. There are lots of places across the country with nice weather that would be perfect for a Spring Break trip, so pick a relatively close destination to save on gas and hotel expenses on the way. Plus taking a shorter trip makes it possible to drive instead of fly. (See also: 4 Underrated U.S. Cities You Need to See This Summer)

Gas discounts

Use a fuel loyalty or fuel discount program. You will be buying a lot of gas on a road trip, so you might as well take advantage of discounts and rewards as you go. Pay for gas with a credit card that provides rewards, and check out gas station loyalty programs at Speedway, Shell, BP, Exxon Mobil, or your favorite gas station. (See also: Best Gas Rewards Credit Cards)

Food

Spring Break eats can cost a pretty penny, but they don't have to. If you eat smart on your trip, you can have amazing meals and still stay within your budget.

Bring provisions

Start your trip with food supplies on board to minimize expensive stops at convenience stores and fast food places along your route. Pack apples, PB&J sandwiches, bananas, granola bars, nuts, and other healthy food that travels well.

Cook your own meals

You can save real money if you buy most of your food at grocery stores instead of restaurants while traveling, and preparing meals yourself. Pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables, and ingredients to make sandwiches. Bring a cooler on your trip to fill with free ice from the hotel to keep your refrigerated items cold when you are on the move from one hotel to the next. (See also: Eat These 6 Foods to Stay Healthy While Traveling)

Keep water handy

Buy a case of bottled water at a grocery store or drugstore. You'll want lots of water at the beach, and a cheap bottle of water from a 24-pack is about 10x less expensive that an individual bottle of soda from a vending machine or convenience store.

You can also bring a reusable water bottle and fill it at coffee shops, airports, rest stops, and anywhere there's a fountain. And that'll cost you $0. (See also: The 5 Best Aluminum and Stainless Steel Water Bottles)

More ways to save

Beyond accommodations, transportation, and food, there are other ways to stretch your Spring Break dollars.

Avoid tourist traps

At many beaches, you can rent an umbrella and chairs for about $20. If you bring your own food and water, that's all you need to spend for a day of fun. Also, visit parks and other nature areas on your trip instead of expensive attractions that are designed to extract money from tourists at every turn. (See also: 11 Incredible UNESCO World Heritage Sites Right Here in the U.S.)

Pack for the weather

Even though your destination may be known as a sunny spot, it can still get cold at night. Check the weather forecast before you go and bring the full range of clothes you will need so you won't need to buy a sweatshirt or jacket at your destination. Remember to pack that summer gear you probably haven't seen since last year such as your sun hat, swimsuit, sunglasses, beach toys, and sunscreen.

Find free Wi-Fi

Taking advantage of free Wi-Fi at hotels and other businesses is even more important on a Spring Break trip since you will likely have lots of pictures and videos to share. Make sure you don't overrun your phone's data plan and rack up extra charges sending selfies from the beach. (See also: 6 Ways to Slash the Cost of Wi-Fi When You Travel)

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