For legions of parents and kids across the United States, Spring Break represents a well-deserved week of vacation that splits up the second half of the school year. It’s a great time for families to reconnect and refresh from the frantic schedules that they run every week at home. Spring Break can end up costing a family budget quite a hefty punch if isn’t planned out well. The closer you get to Spring Break, the more expensive the airfare, hotels, and entertainment can cost your bottom line. Here are five smart money moves to help you enjoy Spring Break on a budget.
- Use some of those ‘rainy day’ point programs– Spring Break season is not usually a blackout period for hotel or airline point programs. You might think you will save these up for a bigger trip in the future, but the truth is these points lose value year to year if you don’t use them (think inflation alone). You might cash some of these points in for airfare, hotel, rent-a-car, or even for tickets to a theme park.
- Stop at the grocery store before the hotel– You can be 100% certain that once you get to a destination property or a fancy hotel, the gift shop will be good for 300% markup on anything from a small bag of potato chips to a tube of Advil. Pick up some breakfast bars, basic treats, and items such as aspirin to help you cut down on little expenses that can add up over the course of a trip. If you can get a hotel room with a mini-fridge or a small microwave that really help your cause financially over the course of a week by even bringing in some juice boxes or soda cans rather than ordering room service.
- Compare The Club Level To The Regular Price– We all have different types of budgets for planning out our families Spring Breaks. If you are going to venture to a nice hotel, consider asking the difference in cost of the ‘club level’ versus a regular floor in the hotel. It’s best to find a hotel that offers complimentary breakfast and even free snacks in the afternoon, but if they don’t the club level could be a potential alternative. If the difference in cost is $60 a day, for example, the club level might offer you free breakfast, snacks all day, drinks all day, and even an appetizer/light snacks in the evening. If your vacation isn’t built around eating out, this could fulfill all of your food requirements for the day (we’ve done it before).
- Pack The Sunscreen– If you plan accordingly, one smart trip to CVS or Walgreens could save you a boatload of money. Buying sunscreen, goggles, swimmies, or even sunglasses can cost you a small fortune on a vacation. Make sure you take the kids for one small road trip to the local drugstore and this can result in big savings for you as well over the course of a trip
- Plan At The Last Minute– It’s not my style, but if you are willing to travel regionally (sometimes nationally) and wait until the last minute you could snag yourself a deal on one of the major travel sites. Remember, if the hotel isn’t filled they aren’t making any money.