Spring break on a budget

Brennen Gray, junior communications major, is planning to save money this spring break and enjoy the weather in Chico. Photo credit: Claire Martinez

One of the most anxiously anticipated weeks of spring semester is just around the corner.

Students can already feel the sand between their toes and taste the sweet relief of being finished with midterms during spring break, which kicks off Monday.

While the break should mean endless hours of fun in the sun, one of the main problems students run into is cost.

Katie Morelan, senior business administration major, spent last year’s spring break in Mexico and planned her budget accordingly.

“Last year my roommates and I went to Cabo,” Morelan said. “It was an amazing time, but as students on a budget we decided to opt out of the all-inclusive meal plan.”

Saving money on food is not all students can do to save money during spring break. Here are tips on how to save some cash and still have fun.

Make your own food

Cabo San Lucas is just one of the many hot spots for spring breakers, according to students. Touristy locations similar to these spots in Mexico can mean higher prices at restaurants.

However, grocery stores have an abundance of food. Students can buy cheap groceries, make a couple of PB&J’s and pack a bag full of Capri Suns to take to the beach.

Lunch is served.

“As students on a budget, we went to the Costco right outside of Los Cabos and purchased fruit, snack foods, water and Gatorade,” Morelan said. “We made sandwiches and also looked for restaurant deals that were off the beaten path.”

Plan for cheap sleeping arrangements

Hotels and motels share at least one thing: beds. Most students don’t plan on spending their vacation inside a room all day, so they can save money by choosing cheap housing.

Josie Bruce, junior health science education major, uses travel websites when looking to save money on her trips.

“I check travel sites like Hotwire or Tripadvisor for hotel room deals,” Bruce said. “You can find some pretty great hotel room prices on these sites, and if you are a AAA member, a lot of hotels offer discounts.”

Stay local for the week-long break

Having fun during spring break doesn’t have to mean leaving town. Lots of students can stay local, relax by the pool and enjoy not having to wake up for a 9 a.m. math class.

Brennen Gray, junior communications major, has decided to bypass the hassle of packing all his things and is going to save money by staying in his college town, he said.

“It’s simple: Save money by staying here in Chico,” Gray said. “I think my parents are even going to come up and visit me for the week.”

Start early when planning expenses

While some students may be staying home for spring break, they can use the opportunity to plan for another vacation down the road. Some airlines, hotels and travel agencies charge less for vacations planned in advance.

Morelan planned her trip to Cabo early and found affordable results.

“We found the cutest family-owned restaurants that served amazing, cheap, authentic Mexican food,” Morelan said. “We saved a ton of money by planning ahead and deciding to be creative.”

Consider a day-cation

A day-cation can be a fun way to do things with friends and enjoy spring break without spending money on a week-long vacation.

“My friends and I have taken day trips down to Monterey, and once the fog clears, it is wonderful there,” Bruce said. “Back in Santa Cruz, there is Wilder Ranch, which offers great hiking and biking opportunities. Big Basin Redwoods State Park offers great hiking trails, also.”

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is another option for a day trip. The boardwalk hosts competitions, movie nights on the beach and free concerts.

“I like to go on a few of the rides but really enjoy hanging out on the beach,” Bruce said. “The great thing about the boardwalk is that you can purchase an all-day pass or just a few tickets, and there is no admission fee into the park. The beach in front of the boardwalk is a great place to take a break and enjoy the sun after exploring the park.”

By following some of these tips, students can have fun and save money during spring break. Spring break doesn’t have to burn a hole in their pocket. Fun can be as cost-efficient as they make it.

Claire Martinez can be reached at [email protected] or @clairelmartinez_ on Twitter