Spring break on a student budget

Wyatt Jones

Spring break is a chance for students to exhale after months worth of working and studying. Like most breaks, students can use this time to let loose and do things not possible during the normal semester, like take a vacation.

Unfortunately, money is a factor when planning trips, especially for college students. But don’t fret: There are ways to have an exciting spring break without breaking the bank.

According to Leon Logothetis, an expert on traveling to places on a meager expense, the Internet is a great tool towards planning cheap trips. Logothetis managed to go on a cross-country trip from New York to Hollywood on $5 a day, so he knows a thing or two about inexpensive vacationing.

‘I think that one of the best ways to go on holiday without breaking bank is to be prepared,’ said Logothetis.

To enjoy a costless escape, plan ahead. Try to score free meals, accommodations and transportation. Logothetis suggested students look at sites like couchsurfing.com, mobissio.com and ridesharing.com, which offer different short cuts towards securing a nice vacation while saving money along the way.

For students who want to get away, but are unsure of how to pay for rooming, they might want to check out couchsurfing.com. This site is a social network-like community, allowing travelers, or fellow members, to seek shelter in each others’ homes. For example, if someone were to plan a trip in Europe, he/she could request to ‘couchsurf,’ or live with another member who happens to live in that same area. It’s a system allowing students to do without hotels, motels and hostels and meet interesting people along the way. Logothetis describes it as ‘a squatter’s dream.’

Questions on whether or not ‘couchsurfing’ is secure is a factor, though Logothetis assures the site is ‘safe and respectable and lots of people do it.’ Anyone who is feeling adventurous and willing to lodge with strangers might consider this option.

Ridesharing.com is a search engine finding travelers the easiest and cheapest tickets for wherever they’re visiting. It provides information for last minute deals, cheap airfare, hotels and other light travel expenses. Mobissio.com is similar to ridesharing.com, except it’s almost exclusively for traveling by plane. It offers links for inexpensive airline tickets and insurance. These sites are decent enough to help students plan their trips, but won’t do anything that an average search engine can do. Still, for cheap transportation, they’re worth a try.

There’s a site available called collegeprowler.com/springbreak, which allows students to download an ‘Ultimate Guide to Spring Break 2009′ for free. The guide itself lists 15 spring break destinations and how to get the most out of the trip. It gives students the best and worst they could expect from each location and it’s totally up to the individual to choose where he/she would like to go. Of course, the most popular, overpopulated and slightly costly selections are on the list, such as Hawaii or Cancun, the guide seems fair and impartial to what spring breakers can get with their money.’ Anyone looking forward to these vacation experiences can have access to the guide.

Logothetis suggested a few small, yet vital tips on vacationing, such as not taking a cell phone. He said it’s less costly to communicate using prepaid phones than cells. He also noted never to eat near tourist attractions since they tend to charge more for food. Logothetis said there are people who will help students with expenses and ways to secure food and a place to stay for next to nothing if they are willing to keep an open mind.

‘The most important thing is to be sociable and charming,’ Logothetis said. ‘If you don’t connect with people you won’t [get far].’

Tips on how to pack for a spring break trip

1. Concentrate on the destination. Check the weather forecast for your spring break location. Whether the trip involves water skiing or snow skiing, pack weather and activity-appropriate clothing and accessories for your destination.

2. Pack your hygienic products. Remember your deodorant, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, sunscreen and any other daily products you use.

3.’ Minimize the amount of clothing needed by packing items that work together. If staying close to or in an area with laundry services, pack less and bring some laundry supplies. Include plenty of undergarments, something to sleep in and one nice outfit just in case. Leave expensive and unnecessary jewelry and electronics at home.

4.’ Purchase travel size medications for common illnesses, such as pain relievers, stomach medications and allergy pills. Remember to pack any prescriptions you take. If flying, beware of the restrictions for carrying medication, liquids and sharp objects on the aircraft.

5. Prepare for the unexpected. Bring extra money in a separate section of your luggage for emergencies.