How Everyone Can Afford a Spring Break Vacation
Spring Break season is finally here. All those people who have spent the winter with their nose to the grindstone at work or trying to get motivated to study at school now have an excuse to hit the beach and the bar somewhere warm. This has been a pretty mild winter for most of us, all things considered, but that doesn’t mean that people in more-northern latitudes aren’t ready to cut loose, tropical-style, for a few days.
Some people think of Spring Break as some sort of right-of-passage. One side-effect of this is that many novice partiers think that this annual event is their only shot to really party in this lifetime. This creates problems in more ways than one. Inexperienced breakers get in all sorts of alcohol fueled situations that people with a few more wild nights behind them know how to avoid. On the financial level, there are issues to. The once-in-a-lifetime approach to Spring Break can lead to excessive spending and perhaps even serious credit card debts that will take more than a summertime job to get out of.
The best way to get a good deal on Spring Break is to book well in advance. We’re talking several months before you plan to take off. But who does that? A vast majority of breakers scramble to find last-minute deals because they are simply too busy or otherwise preoccupied to plan more than a month into the future. Luckily, the early-bird approach is only one of many ways to afford to take part in this unofficial holiday.
If you aren’t already holding your ticket and reservation in hand, traveling as part of package vacation is the most straightforward way to avoid massive Spring Break expenses. Break-specific packages are offered to college students for prices that, well, college students can afford (or can put on a credit card without busting their credit limit). Is there a catch? You’ll basically be staying in a hotel that is not unlike a dorm room and partying with other college kids who are on the same package. That’s exactly what most people, especially novice breakers, expect and desire from their springtime fling. So why not go this route if it can provide you with the experience that you are looking for at a price that won’t have you hitting up Mom or Dad for cash to get through April and May?
Another option for budget-conscious late-bookers is the avoid the party meccas and seek something different. If you fall into this demographic, probably the whole novice-partier-getting-trashed scene is not to your liking. Caribbean destinations like the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico are HYPERLINK “http://www.tsbmag.com/2010/08/20/fear-and-living-in-the-dominican-republic/”great places to party without having to rely on the Spring Break party scene for your entertainment. These destinations have plenty of places to get your nightlife fix, and do whatever else your vacation goals include. Cheaper hotels and guesthouses and direct flights (mainly from East Coast airports) via low-cost-carriers like JetBlue make them cost effective destinations as well. Smaller islands like Grenada and Dominica have the kind of small scale guesthouses and bungalows that people whose idea of a vacation does not involve boozy flirting, house music, or…any type of civilization beyond the basic necessities. These require an extra flight (at a cost of a couple hundred), but the savings on accommodation costs can make up the difference overall.
Whether you are going mainstream or partying off the beaten path, a credit card can actually help you save cash during vacation. Yes, these evil instruments of debt can be used for good, if used correctly. Two types of travel-related rewards cards can lead to significant Spring Break savings, which, in turn, can help you keep your cash for more important things, like buying drinks for comely local ladies. The cards that can work for you are fee-free rewards cards that offer new user bonuses to people who spend a certain amount (usually just a couple hundred dollars) in the first one, two or three months that they own their card. Since you will be spending the money anyway, you can put it on a new card that has this type of bonus offer and probably cross your spending threshold and take your rewards points to the bank. This can even work for cards that charge an annual fee as long as that annual fee is waived for the first year. Some airline-specific credit cards waive first-year annual fees. Of course, you’ll have to pay off the balance quickly to avoid interest payments that will cancel out your rewards bonuses.
Whatever route you take, you can afford to take off for someplace warm for a few days so that you can recover your mojo after the long winter.
About Josh Lew Josh Lew lives in the Midwestern US when he is not traveling. He is a columnist for Gadling and has contributed to Hackwriters and Skive Magazine.