How to hit the road on a budget this spring break

Cass Tolliver

“If we were meant to stay in one place, we’d have roots instead of feet,” Rachel Wolchin once said. Traveling is typically seen as a privilege in our society, but it does not have to be as expensive and tedious as everyone makes it seem.

Between college tuition and many other expenses, there is hardly any extra money for traveling on breaks. However, if a student works during the summer or has a job on campus during the semester, and is wise with their money, traveling is very possible.

During these breaks there are fewer responsibilities, such as homework and work schedules, and more time to enjoy with friends.

Not only is traveling a time to make unique memories with your friends, but you can also observe other perspectives, experience other cultures and build independence.

This year for spring break my friends and I are going to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, which can sound really expensive but actually is not. Since we are all in college and do not want to spend a huge amount of money for a one week trip, we were smart about how we went about it. Here’s how:
We researched hotels on Google that are located on the island, but they were all a little out of our budget. We then downloaded the app “The Hopper” and found the same hotels that were online for a much cheaper price (I typically book with Airbnb, but the rooms on there were unfortunately out of our price range for this location).

Once we selected a cheaper, but still clean and tidy hotel, we calculated the cost for the whole week and divided it between our group of five friends. After doing this, the price of the hotel for one person for the entire week was under $100, which means one person is paying less than $14 per night.
Another way to save money on hotel expenses is by staying at a relative or friend’s house. If you have a larger group of friends, this may not be possible due to the host not wanting a ton of people at their house. However, for smaller groups this is a financially smart option.

For transportation no one in our group wanted to drive their own car 11 hours away, mostly because the cars are in our parents’ names and they do not want us driving them there. Because of this, we had to find another way to get there.

Flights to Hilton Head right now are around $350 or higher and those flights do not include luggage, so they would end up being way more than the lowest flight cost. A way around flying is driving, if the destination is in a reasonable driving distance. Since Hilton Head is about an 11 hour drive, we decided driving would not be the worst option.

Because taking one of our cars is out of the picture, we agreed on getting a rental car. After all of the rental expenses were added up and divided evenly, it came out to be around $60 per person for the week. We are all splitting the gas prices amongst ourselves, but the rental car is extremely good on gas so I don’t anticipate the gas money being an issue.

Moving along to the price of food, we are trying to not eat out for every single meal. Eating out is fun, quick and easy, but can add up fast if you are not careful.

The first day we are in Hilton Head we are planning on making a trip to the nearest grocery store and stocking up on breakfast and lunch foods. This way we can eat breakfast in our hotel each morning and take our lunch out to the beach or pool.

Buying groceries from the store and making your own meals is much cheaper than eating out, and we can all split the total of the food and drinks from the grocery store. Also, some hotels provide complimentary breakfast so I would definitely check to see if it is offered by the hotel you are looking at booking.

After all the expenses are added up, this trip will end up being around $200-250 for each person going. All in all this trip is cheaper than most flights alone and it includes our travel, stay and meals.

Some other spring break destinations that are reasonable for college students are Panama City Beach, Destin Beach and Myrtle Beach. If the beach is not for you, Gatlinburg or Nashville are a few other great options. These places are college- student-friendly and normally have a lot of spring breakers there.

While booking trips can be daunting, especially when there are multiple different people splitting every cost, it is worth it in the end when your spring break trip ends up being half the cost of one flight to the destination you choose.