Money aside, there's a sort of pride that comes with planning a trip on your own. When I say that, I mean literally getting out a notebook and a map and drawing out a strategic plan of how you are going to make this the best vacation of your life.
Most colleges coordinate their spring breaks through a company that offers an all-inclusive package. As this option is definitely the easiest, it surely isn't the cheapest. There is no fun in clicking a link, typing your name and plugging in your credit card information.
Third-party vacation planners have to make money doing what they do, so that company is keeping a percentage of whatever ridiculous price you are paying. Yes, it is nice to pay once upfront and not have to worry about anything once you're on vacation, but you'll get a whole lot more out of your trip if you have a say in what your money is going to.
College spring break packages usually include a flight to the destination, hotel stay, nightclub wristbands and crappy food that might taste good after drinking fruity cocktails all day. So, how could you plan a similar spring break, on a cheaper budget, and have more fun?
Get out your notebooks.
Pick three or four spring break destinations. Download the app Hopper and plug in each of those destinations. Click on flex dates for the month of your choice and choose the cheapest round trip flight within the range of your alotted spring break. Who cares if you have to miss a couple of days of class? Who cares if both of your flights leave at two or three in the morning? By taking out the luxury of traveling at a convenient time, you can save hundreds of dollars.
Go on Airbnb and search for a cheap house or apartment that is close to where you want to be. Maybe you want to explore two different areas of the destination you're visiting, so find an Airbnb in each area. Say you're traveling with a group of eight — find an Airbnb for six with an option for self-check-in. The place might not have enough beds for eight people so bring an air mattress, sleep on the couch, crash in the hammock on the porch.
Cheat the system. This trick could save you hundreds.
Pack lightly. To get around, take public transportation, ride a rental bike or book a peter pan bus. Write down a list of what you want to do while you're on your trip. Say you're spending your spring break in Miami- write down a list of people that might have connections there. This is how you get free club entry, a helpful tip or piece of advise that you might not have found on the internet.
To save money on food, go grocery shopping and use the kitchen in your Airbnb. Avoid eating out for every meal, those dinners can add up pretty fast.
I have tons of friends who have gone on college spring breaks. They've paid close to 2,000 dollars for a four-night all-inclusive package. By planning the same type of trip on your own, you could spend less than 1,000 dollars for twice the amount of days.
Two years ago, some of my friends paid 1,800 dollars to go to the Bahamas for four nights. My roommate and I went to Miami and spent roughly $500 dollars total, for eight days, and we had just as good of a time. Last March while I was abroad in Australia, my boyfriend and I planned a trip around Thailand. We bought one-way tickets everywhere and booked accommodations as we went. Other people spent thousands of dollars for all-inclusive trips to Thailand with a pre-planned, play-by-play itinerary for what they would do while they were there.
If you plan it yourself, you get to choose what to do, where to go, when to go and how long to stay in which places.
Aside from the money you save, it's so much more rewarding knowing that you planned a trip on your own. It's such a great chance to learn about budgeting and working out problems on your own.