3 Ways To Enjoy Spring Break Without Breaking The Bank

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A regular customer at Plaza del Mercado, Santurce Market, PR

Fun fact: Other countries have grocery stores too. And the food there is likely cheaper than in restaurants as well.

A few weeks ago, I made a fantastic discovery: Real people get spring breaks too! Well, if they want to take them in the spring, that is.

As a professional, I earn magical little things called “FTO (flex-time off) hours” that accrue during every month I work. In my short tenure, I’ve gained enough to go on a 4-night spring-break trip to Puerto Rico with my friends!

(Cue montage of MTV spring break.)


Even though I have some money in the bank, I still can’t justify splurging a ton on a lavish trip. Thankfully, if my time in Europe taught me anything (apart from the marketplace appeal of late 18th century Gothic literature), it was how to travel on a budget.

So, if you’re a poor college student or a (slightly less) poor recent grad heading somewhere fun, check out my three-pronged plan for enjoying your break without breaking the bank.

1. No-Frills Lodging

In Amsterdam, I stayed in a hostel located above a hot dog shop. In Antwerp, the place I stayed had a long history of accommodating money-savvy travelers—and an even longer history of never changing its bed sheets. Safe to say, I can probably handle “no-frills” in most of the word’s connotations.

So, rather than flock to the luxurious, resort-strip of San Juan, where thousands of other 20-somethings will no doubt be indulging in unlimited food and drink (I’m not bitter), my friends and I are hanging out in an Airbnb in an area populated mainly by locals. It’s safe, semi-clean, and unimaginably cheap—good in my book.

Always go for cheap when it comes to spring-break lodging. Big resorts will try and entice you into staying with them and going for their unlimited plans, but don’t listen!

2. Minimal Time In Restaurants

It seems like every 20-something is a foodie nowadays. I’m no exception. I love finding cool and trendy restaurants with my friends when traveling. The only problem is that eating out abroad gets incredibly expensive.

I think it’s realistic to assume that I’m going to dine out for at least a quarter of my meals in San Juan. I’m OK with that—as long as the other three-quarters come from groceries.

I’m going on this trip with 15 other people. Since we’re staying somewhere with a kitchen (added bonus of avoiding hotels), I’m thinking we’ll split groceries and cooking duties. Managing your meals like this is a nice way to relax and bond, and an even better way to save money.

3. The Fun Fund

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that students who go on spring break spend lots of money on fun. I’m distinguishing fun from “fun,” here. “Fun” is what you have when you watch TV with friends, cook meals, and play with cute dogs. Fun is what you spend money on when you’re out having a good time at places like Señor Frogs.

My strategy for approaching fun is probably the same as most college students’ plans: frontload it and share it. Have some fun before you head out for the night, and don’t feel the need to splurge because you’re on vacation. If you choose the latter route, at least try to split the costs with somebody—or multiple somebodies.

Above all, be safe. Be nice to your body, and you’ll end up being nice to your wallet as well. Sounds like a good way to enjoy spring break to me.

How do you save money on spring break? Share your tips in the comments.

(Photo: cogito ergo imago)

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