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Whether you’re taking a road trip with your family or hanging out with your college buddies, spring break can come with some hefty costs. Even though it’s considered a high travel season, you can still plan a trip that won’t break the bank.

Consider Lesser Known Destinations

It’s pretty typical for people to travel to beach destinations during spring break – think Miami, Key West and Cancún. Flights to these destinations and hotels can run a few hundred dollars more because, well, everyone wants to be there. If you fancy yourself an introvert, popular destinations can get really crowded during spring break, so you’ll be paying more and stressed out over the sheer amount of people there. 

Instead, think about what you want to do during your vacation and research alternative destinations. Instead of Cancún, consider Puerto Vallarta or Panama City if you want warmer weather and beaches. These places can be much cheaper, especially if you book in advance and are on the lookout for discounts.

Travel During Off-Peak Times

Flying during off-peak times can save you a decent chunk of money if you’re willing to wake up early or go on a red-eye flight. However, just because you save money on a flight, doesn’t mean you’ll end up saving more overall. Keep in mind how much it’ll cost getting to and from the airport during those times as well. If you can keep the costs low (like asking a family member to drive you), it could be worth it.

Something else to keep in mind is to choose less popular routes and travel days. If you can swing it, fly a day or two later so you can save money by getting on a midweek flight, or consider layovers instead of a direct flight. If you live in an area with multiple airports, compare prices for flying out of a different airport to nab yourself some savings.

Stay With Someone You Know

Do you have a relative in Charleston? Or does your best friend live in Miami and will they be out of town most of the week?

Finding out if there’s a way to stay with friends and family can be a great way to save on accommodations. Of course, you may not want to stay with them the whole week if it’s going to be too much of a bother. But, if you stay for a night or two, it could save you a significant amount on lodging.

You can also consider housesitting. How it works is you stay in someone’s home for free in exchange for watching their house. This can also include petsitting, watering their plants and getting the mail. To find these opportunities, ask around or go to websites like TrustedHouseSitters.com.

Stay in Non-Touristy Areas

Staying just outside of touristy areas can save your sanity and your wallet. For one, you can avoid the crowds and the noise if you’re at a hotel or Airbnb that isn’t constantly crowded. Second, if you stay in a touristy area, you could be paying more for things like restaurants and even items from the convenience store down the street.

When booking accommodations, keep in mind how long it may take to travel to attractions you want to check out. If you’re saving a lot on hotel costs but are spending an hour a day just getting to and from places, it may not be worth it.

Use Credit Card Perks

Some credit cards reward miles to score free or discounted travel. Some, known as travel hackers, are always on the lookout for ways to earn a lot of points to get free trips. While you don’t have to go to that extreme, taking advantage of credit cards can help save you some cash. 

For one, consider using a credit card that offers perks like travel insurance or 24/7 emergency roadside assistance so you don’t have to pay extra for these services. Or, if you have a credit card that offers cash back, see if there are certain categories where you can get a higher percentage back – some credit cards offer as high as 5% cash back on travel-related purchases. If you’re traveling internationally, try to use a card that offers no foreign transaction fees.

Scour Coupon Websites

Websites like Groupon or LivingSocial offer some great deals on local attractions. Before going on your trip, spend some time browsing and seeing what offers are available while you’re in town. Make sure to look at the fine print to see how and when you can redeem your purchases.

Once you’ve decided on your dates of travel, find sales or secret deals on travel booking websites. Often, they’ll have deals on hotels, but you won’t find out the exact hotel until you book. These sites will give you an insight into the location, amenities and typically promise that it’d be at least three or four stars. If you like the spontaneity, the savings are worth it.

Have Fun

Using the tips above can help you be more mindful of costs and hopefully save on your next spring break vacation. Make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen, relax and enjoy your time off.

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