Spring Break on a Budget

It’s one of the worst feelings you can have – running out of money partway through a wild and wicked Spring Break! Instead of partying with your friends you end up begging for money on the phone with your family and hoping that your credit card company will give you a break. But why take the risk in the first place? With a little planning and foresight you can have a great Spring Break without spending all your money and perhaps even come back with some to spare!

Your Spring Break planning should start months before the actual dates with checking out the vacation packages offered by many travel agents, usually specifically targeted at students. These packages often include hotel, flights and a rental car to allow you to get around your Spring Break location easier. As well many hotels will offer deals on their dining areas, usually with coupons or special two-for-one deals that will bring down costs even further. And by booking ahead and paying ahead of time you can arrange your finances well in advance of any ominious credit card bills. Begin setting some cash aside in a special fund for your trip, even if it’s only a few dollars a week. It all adds up quickly enough and gives you a sense of control over your finances.

It may seem tempting to wait until the very last minute and try to score some great deal through the online travel websites, but this can easily backfire. These deals often aren’t really much cheaper than what you would pay usually and can place you in an awkward position with moving from hotel to hotel and odd arrival and departure times. You may save a few dollars here and there but end up sitting in an empty airport at 3 a.m. waiting for a connecting flight – not the best way to spend your Spring Break vacation!

When you arrive at your location place your important documents and papers in the hotel safe, including your return tickets and passport. It’s all too easy to lose your plane tickets and then have to deal not only with the airlines but also trying to deal with a lost passport. As well there are always unscrupulous people around spring break resorts and hotels seeking to rob unsuspecting students and their friends of anything and everything. Place all your extra cash and credit cards in the safe along with your tickets and passport, if needed, to give you a secure holding place for your cash. Students may joke about selling their airline tickets to pay off debts and seeking a cheaper way home, but this scenario can and does happen. Keeping your tickets in a safe place and out of sight will lessen the temptation of turning them in for some fast drinking money and a few hours of fun. There’s no worse finish to your Spring Break than paying for an extra ticket home due to losing your initial airline tickets then finding them tucked into a side pocket of your backpack or briefcase! Save yourself the aggravation and trouble and tuck them into the hotel safe as soon as you check in.

If at all possible try to pay for as much as you can with a single credit card, or better yet – cash. This enables you to keep track of your spending and in the case of a credit card give you a record of exactly how much you’ve spent and where it was spent. Using a variety of credit cards can lead to confusion and possible credit card fraud where extra charges can be added on or your number even stolen and you not realise it. Cash works as well, letting you see at a glance what’s in your wallet and what’s not – but be careful to not flash that big wad of bills around. Travellers checks offer another alternative, but be sure to check that the resort and the country you’re going to be visiting and staying at recognizes them as valid currency.

If you plan to spend Spring Break in a foreign country be sure to make yourself aware of the currency exchange before you even leave the house. It’s easy to get carried away with what appears to be a great deal on jewelery or other items on a shopping trip and then realise too late that the price isn’t that much of a deal at all – and may actually be more than what you’d pay at home! Budget accordingly for shopping trips, food expenses and of course, entertainment. There’s nothing worse than discovering that your great night out on the town at the nightclubs has now left you with nothing to spend on breakfast the next day. This doesn’t mean that you need to curtail your fun during Spring Break but it does mean that you stay aware of your circumstances and spend responsibly.

One of the biggest problems most students have during Spring Break isn’t keeping track of their spending but the urge to treat their friends to yet another round of drinks. While this may gain you popularity for the short-term it can rack up high costs on your credit card or dig a hole in your wallet quicker than you can imagine. This doesn’t mean that you can’t buy a round or two, but plan ahead and budget accordingly. Perhaps arrange with your friends for each of you to pay for a single night or a specific number of rounds or other Spring Break events. That way you don’t seem like a cheap person and everyone gets a chance to treat each other and have fun.

A good idea might be to allot a certain amount of money to each day of your Spring Break and divide up your cash into different areas of your wallet or purse. This allows you to see instantly if you’re out of cash or close to running out. Of course this depends on your ability to control your spending, so this may not work for everyone. But for those travellers seeking an easy way to budget their money it could be a good way to track your spending and react accordingly. Again, be careful not to let everyone and anyone know that you’re carrying cash or how much. Unfortunately not everyone associated with Spring Break is there for the benefit of the students or tourists and you may be making yourself a prime target for theft.

Spring Break can be one of the most rewarding experiences in a young man or woman’s life – but it can also be one of the most expensive. But with a little foresight and planning you can not only have the Spring Break of your dreams but even have some money left over to help those dreams continue!

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