Some of you, like me, are probably already thinking about that getaway in March. If you are, good for you! Now is the time to start researching and a picking out a place to stay during spring break. Here are some things you should consider:
Where: So first thing first, figure out where you want to go. Many people look at costs first, but I have found that it is possible to go most places in the US on any kind of budget. International travel is a little different. Once you pick a location, then you can start looking for hotels, condos, or houses in the area that fit your budget. If the cost still seems more than you want to spend, then you can always pick another location. Don’t eliminate a location quickly just because it seems expensive. There are always many options to support your budget.
Costs: Now you need to plan a budget. Take a look at your funds and create different categories that need to be included when traveling. Here are some of the categories you may want to consider:
Rent: Where are you planning on staying? Or better yet, what do you want to stay in? Hotels, condos, houses, etc. There are many options. Heck, you could even sleep in you car and use public restrooms if you don’t want to spend money on a place to stay. Some good websites that have deals on rooming are hotels.com, expedia.com, vrbo.com, and hotwire.com. Hostels may be something to consider as well. Hostels are more like a dorm style rooms, although, you can get a private room if you wish. They cost a fraction of the price that hotels cost. You can find hostels on hostels.com or hostelworld.com. And if you want to look at spending no money at all for rooming check out couchsurfing.org. Couch surfing is spending the night at another person’s house for free. The owner has a profile page where you can learn about them, their family, and other aspects of their home. When choosing a home on couch surfing always pick a home with a picture of the owner and good reviews. People that have families are typically a good aspect as well. When you do stay at someone’s house make sure to do something nice for the family to thank them for their hospitality. Cooking a meal, making bracelets, or buying a nice home décor item are all excellent options. One last tip, when planning where to stay, don’t forget to add in overnight rooming while in transport if necessary as well.
Transportation: Are you driving, flying, or taking a bus or train? Traveling tends to be one of the more expensive parts in a budget. Keep in mind what is more important to you, another day at your location or a cheaper way to get there that may take more time. Taking a car may take longer, but gas money may be less expensive than a plane ticket. You can find good deals on Kayak.com. If you are flying, keep in mind you may need to rent a taxi or a vehicle once you get to your location.
Food: There are a variety of options when it comes to food. Eating out is always a fun option. Personally, I think checking out local restaurants is the best. It gives you the chance to eat somewhere new that you can’t find anywhere else. However, eating out can be really expensive. Don’t be afraid to try street food. It can be a lot less expensive and the majority of the time it is safe to eat. It is made directly in front of you so you are aware of how it is cooked, unlike restaurants. Finally, my personal favorite, cook! Cooking is super cheap compared to other options. It also gives you a chance to bond with your fellow travelers over a home cooked meal.
Activities: The main reason why people travel is to do stuff when they get there. Whether it is lying out on a sandy beach, hiking to see a waterfall, or skydiving with a local company, we all go do activities when we travel. Activity cost can range from free to costing hundreds of dollars. Have an idea of what you want to do when you get to your location so you can plan accordingly. Having a daily budget for activities is not a bad idea. Choosing one or two big activities and doing free stuff the other days is great suggestion as well. Groupon.com is a cool website that offers discounted prices on a wide variety of things to do, places to eat, and even hotels to stay at. I like to get on this website and browse to find birthday and Christmas presents along with things to do while traveling.
Extra Fees: Always be aware of extra hidden fees that could really bust your budget. Things like baggage fees, ATM fees, and even tipping can cost you money you weren’t expecting to spend. Make sure you do thorough research on the companies you are using and area you will be staying in terms of tipping.
Amount of People: This part of planning can make or break a trip. The people that you go with ultimately determine what fun or not so fun memories you will have from your vacation. The amount of people also determines how you can split up your costs. Things like food, gas, and rooming costs can all be split evenly within your group. This can really help make your trip a lot more affordable.
Packing: For many people this is a very difficult topic. The what if question is always brought up. This question leads to over packed bags, broken back, extra fees at the airport, and fights over whose stuff is more important to bring. Avoid all this frustration by sticking to some very simple packing rules. Pack one outfit for every day. Try to have some pieces of clothing that you can wear for more than one day. One nice pair of clothes for going out is enough as well. When it comes to bathing suits, plan on bringing only one. More than one just leads to weird tan lines and less room in your suitcase for other essentials. Everyone uses different toiletries. Try to minimize what you bring by laying your stuff out and asking do I really need this? If your answer is yes to all of your 25 toiletry items, you did something wrong. Go through and try to eliminate again. Your memories will be made by what you do, not what you look like.
These are my recommendations for planning your spring break. If you have any other suggestions or tips please leave a comment below. I’m always looking for new ways to plan trips and save money.
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