Taking a trip or staying in? Tips for staying on a budget during spring break
Ah, Spring Break! As a kid, I always looked forward to Spring Break and the time away from school. We rarely traveled because my family was on a tight travel budget, but the days were spent without firm plans (the best sort of plans if you ask me) and lots of bike rides, family walks, and sometimes time spent at our family lake house. For many Americans, however, Spring Break is one of the weeks during the year when traveling is a must. Planning epic trips that coincide with kiddos being out of school is something many parents look forward to each year during March and April. This year, however, many people are opting for budget friendly plans that do not include travel. In fact, only 30% of travelers are keeping their Spring Break 2023 plans. The other 70% adjusted their plans3 due to inflation. With pricing that seems elevated from years past on everything from food to fuel is it possible to save money on a Spring Break trip this year?
Never fear, we have thrifty travel tips and Spring Break ideas for a family on a budget that will help you live it up without breaking the bank. Thinking about traveling despite the higher prices this season? We have a few tips for budget friendly travel. Opting to stay home and spend quality time with your family but still want to plan some epic fun? We have tips for home-based, budget friendly Spring Break fun as well.
Start with a Budget
Before you start your internet search for the perfect Spring Break vacation whether you plan to travel or not, you need to create a budget.6 Memories are priceless, but overspending can create stress that follows you home from your fantastic vacation. Ideally, plan vacations yearly and start saving monthly4 a full year in advance. You’ll end up with more options if you’ve planned and have a budget in place. What about this year, though? Well, if a grand vacation isn’t in the budget, perhaps a smaller plan can be substituted with a goal to save up and take a once in a lifetime trip in the future. Luckily, whether you travel or not, you can create amazing memories for your family to cherish. Whatever the budget looks like for this year, plan what to do with each dollar and take advantage of as many money saving tips as possible. Future you will thank you.
Traveling with cash on hand is a great idea for tipping and picking up snacks. It helps to use cash as a budgeting technique when traveling, but make sure you are careful and follow our tips for keeping your money safe while traveling.10 If you need to cash a check, Speedy Cash is happy to help in-store. We offer convenient locations and hours, so popping by at the last minute to cash a check that you’ll need for travel is quick and easy.
Gotta Get Out of Town
Caught the travel bug this year? Prices may be higher than years past for Spring Break planning purposes, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay at home. On the contrary, there are various budget friendly Spring Break destinations that may fit the bill for your family in 2023. Once you arrive, there are ways to save as well. One of the best tips we can offer is to remain flexible when making your plans.1 Explore your options based on your budget and keep in mind that the world is filled with beautiful places and experiences that aren’t necessarily the hot spot destinations that typically come to mind for Spring Break.
Budget friendly bookings
One of my favorite ways to save on airline tickets is to use Hopper7 when booking airline tickets for an epic Spring Break on a budget. You can choose flexible dates for travel and the app will monitor the pricing then notify you if prices drop. Hopper also offers bookings for cars, hotels, and other travel related reservations. The flights, however, seem to be the most popular on the site and can provide fantastic opportunities for flying at a reduced rate, particularly if your travel dates are flexible.
Hotwire.com9 has long been one of my go-to travel secrets. You can book hotel rooms last minute at a fraction of the regular price including 4- and 5-star hotel rooms. The only drawbacks are that you do not know the name of the hotel before booking if you utilize the special pricing and you can’t book as far in advance as you can if you book through other sites. Depending on the trip and how busy I know the destination will be, I alternate between Hotwire for, forgive the pun, hot deals on 5-star hotels in the heart of the city I’m visiting and Priceline.com8 for advanced planning. There are many travel sites in this internet driven age, and in my experience the pricing is similar no matter which site you choose. Look for specials, deals, and sign up for emails for alerts about new options available from your favorite booking sites.
Simple Travel Savings Ideas
One of the best hacks to save money while traveling for Spring Break, or any time for that matter, is to plan your meals and snacks. If you can book accommodations with a refrigerator, a microwave, and best of all a small kitchen with a cooktop or even hot plate, you will score major savings on food costs. If you’re traveling to a place with consistently clean, safe drinking water, a personal water bottle for each member of the family is a great way to save on drinks5 throughout the day. Shop at a local grocery store to pick up essentials and eat out only once a day for the experience. If you’re on a tighter budget, eating out does not have to be a part of the vacation experience. The fun you’ll have exploring a new place and enjoying your planned activities will more than make up for missed dining experiences.
Finding activities that are low cost is another great way to save. If you’re visiting a city with various paid attractions you’d like to experience, plan a few park visits or walking tours in between to keep you occupied without having to pay for every moment of the day. Don’t forget to relax, too, which is free to do at your hotel or rented room. No one likes to come home from a vacation feeling like they need another vacation to recover. Spend some time with a good book, a good movie, and just enjoy the feeling of having no real responsibilities for a few days. You’ll save money and gain much needed rest and energy.
Staycation Spring Break Vacation
My idea of a party typically takes place in stretchy pants with my favorite beverage (currently passion fruit sparkling water), some popcorn, and a good movie in my living room. I might invite my husband. Vacations are amazing, and I’ve been really lucky. I’ve traveled to some beautiful destinations over the years and enjoyed activities ranging from thrilling (white water rafting in TN as storms from a hurricane blew in) to wild (listening to the musical creations of a German artist in a tiny art gallery in a small village in Ireland) to relatively tame yet beautiful (taking in a beautiful morning on the beach). Yet, staying home and enjoying time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life to just do nothing and chill is a coveted experience for me. If you’ve been working like crazy, taking on all of the activities kids can imagine signing up for, and taking little if any time for yourself, a staycation might be your best bet. Spring break on a budget has never been easier when you choose to be a tourist in your own town.
When was the last time you googled your own city? If someone were to vacation to your neck of the woods, what would they do? Where would they eat? Let the internet be your guide and decide to do something new every day during your staycation. You could visit a new shop you’ve not made time to explore. Find a new dining experience to add to your favorites list—we're all guilty of frequenting the same three places on repeat, don’t worry. Opting for sticking close to home will ensure that you save money on a Spring Break trip because no travel or hotel will be necessary. If you’d like to save on travel but still splurge on a place to rest your head, check out local rentals listed by owners and explore a new neighborhood. If you decide to stay away from home, be sure to follow the same tips for savings on food. Find a place with a nice kitchen set up2 and avoid eating out for every meal, especially breakfast. When you choose a staycation, you may just find yourself appreciating your home a little more. Try looking at your city with fresh, traveler's eyes, and make it into a fun game with the kids. You can pretend you’re preparing to be a travel expert by researching this fun, new place. Sparking creativity is a great way to make even the most typical day feel magical.
Make it Memorable
No matter where you choose to spend your Spring Break vacation, you’re investing in your relationships and memories with your family. Savor the moments and remember that the biggest savings you owe yourself revolves around stress. Less stress equals more fun and better memories. You’ll reduce the stress of vacation planning by taking the pressure off for a moment and remembering that this is supposed to be fun. Create a feasible budget, travel or don’t accordingly, and commit to having fun. Thinking back on my own childhood, the times we traveled were wonderful, but the times we stayed home and spent days on end in the company of family were equal in every way. Spring Break is going to be epic because you decided it is so!
1Johnson, Holly (2022, June 2). 13 ways you can save money on spring break, according to travel experts Retrieved from: https://www.cnn.com/cnn-underscored/travel/how-to-save-money-on-spring-break
2Points, Mommy Spring Break Budget Tips Retrieved from: https://www.travelchannel.com/interests/spring/articles/spring-break-budget-tips
3Lieberman, Melanie (2023, February 9). It’s ‘too expensive’: Many travelers are skipping spring break trips this year due to high prices Retrieved from: https://thepointsguy.com/news/spring-break-expensive-2023/
4Brittany Wren and Sarah Sumner (2019, April 5). How to Vacation on a Budget: 12 Ways to Save Money Retrieved from: https://www.speedycash.com/resources/saving-money-tips/how-to-vacation-on-a-budget/
5French, Sally (2022, December 8). 10 Easy Money Saving Travel Tips Retrieved from: https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/travel/saving-money-on-travel-tricks
6Frazier, Lacey (2020, June 5). Budgeting Unlocked: 6 Steps to Create a Budget Retrieved from: https://www.speedycash.com/resources/financial-fitness/steps-to-create-a-budget/
7Hopper.com website Retrieved from: https://hopper.com/
8Priceline.com website Retrieved from: https://www.priceline.com/?vrid=245b84eb94786e222dc5862faf8521c7
9Hotwire.com website Retrieved from: https://www.hotwire.com/
10Price, Jessica (2022, December 13). 6 Ways to Keep Your Money Safe While Traveling Retrieved from: https://www.speedycash.com/resources/personal-security/keep-your-money-safe-while-traveling/