Budgeting a unique, low-cost spring break
So you managed to save a few hundred bucks last year, even after all the late-night pizzas and movie rental late fees. Will it be for a rainy day, or a sunny vacation? If you have seen some travel package brochures near the student union or in the library, remember there are a few things to think about before booking your trip.
Before you throw down and book that $399 seven-day Caribbean cruise, here are a few extra tips to help you get more out of your money before you pack the first pair of socks.
Be on the search early for that big bargain
It’s the same whether you’re pricing a resort vacation, a cruise or an airline ticket -- the fares go up and down constantly. You have the flexibility to wait until the last minute, but this doesn’t actually mean that you’ll be paying less. Start watching fluctuations in the pricing early for that special bargain to come along.
Try your best not to pay the brochure rate
Seriously, talk the agent or company down from what you see. Unless it's a very popular trip where demand is higher than supply (which usually doesn’t happen in budget student excursions) consider those prices as a cap, and not an actual rate.
Understand that there may be extra fees involved at resorts
Traditionally, the only extra fees involved tipping staff and shopping for some fun stuff. These days, all bets are off. There is a high level of amenities that resorts and hotels focus on to get that extra edge. Extra costs may include:
• Exercise classes
• Internet docks with per minute rates
• Laundry services
• Parking (resort or airport)
Get the Web to work for you
The customer is still king on the ‘Net. You can find early-bird specials all the way to last-minute hail-mary plays. The Internet is your best medium for bargain sales. Keep an eye on travel blogs, or special chat groups that pop up based around a specific market sector. All the large social communities have them, MySpace, Facebook, Yahoo, you name it. You can book a cruise with or without the help of a person who may charge a fee for your “convenience.”
Use cheaper communication while you’re away
Watch those hotel courtesy and roaming charges. Do you really need to call, or can this be taken care of with a quick email? If you're really cost-conscious, save your emailing for internet cafes or public libraries. Check the net for blogs about where cost-competitive internet cafes are located.
Keep your eye on the bar bill
One of the quickest ways to end the fun early is to literally “pour through your money.” Keep aware of meal and drink specials at every location near your hotel. Ladies night at the club? Two for one dinner specials at the grill? Perhaps a nice bistro that has a BYOB policy? Pack a few grocery store-bought sodas in a bag to save getting over-charged in hipper hot spots when you need a break. After a few days, it really adds up.