Spring Break on a Budget

Ted Jenkin
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5 Smart Tips for Last-Minute Planning

It’s almost spring break, and time for a well-deserved week of vacation for our kids and for us.  It’s the perfect opportunity for families to re-energize and reconnect with one another after months of enduring hectic, competing  schedules.  

Traveling for spring break can cost a family a fortune h if the trip isn’t planned out well.  Airfare, hotels and entertainment costs all start to rise as the spring break season draws near.  Are you feeling the pressure?

Here are five smart money moves to help you enjoy your spring break on a budget, especially if you’re planning a last-minute getaway.

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 should save your points for a bigger trip in the future, but, the truth is, points can lose value from year to year, if you don’t use them (think inflation alone).  You might consider cashing some of these points in for airfare, hotel, car rentals or even tickets to a theme park.

Stop at the Grocery Store Before the Hotel.

You can guarantee that once you get to a destination property or a fancy hotel, the gift shop will be good for a 300 percent markup on everything,  from a small bag of potato chips to a bottle of aspirin.  Instead, pick up some breakfast bars, snacks and first-aid items, such as pain relievers and adhesive bandages, to help you cut down on small and unexpected expenses that can add up over the course of a trip.  If you can get accommodations with a mini-fridge or a small microwave, you can take advantage of these small conveniences and stock up on beverages, including water, milk, soda or juice boxes, and quick microwavable meals and popcorn, which can end up saving you big bucks by the end of the week.   

Compare “the Club Level” to the Regular Price.

We all have different budgets for planning our family vacations.  If you are going the route of the really nice hotel, consider asking about the difference in cost for the “club level” versus a regular floor in the hotel.  For the sake of saving money, it’s best to find a hotel that offers complimentary breakfast and free snacks in the afternoon, but if that isn’t an included amenity at your hotel, then purchasing “club level” service could be your secret to saving money.   For example, if the difference in cost is $60 per day, the “club level” amenities could include 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 wisely, one quick trip to the drugstore can save you a boatload of money.  Buying sunscreen, goggles, swimmies or even sunglasses on vacation can cut into your  spending money.  Don’t forget to take that small road trip to the drugstore before pulling up anchor for the big one. 

Intentionally Plan at the Last Minute!

If you are willing to travel regionally (or even  nationally), and search the big travel sites at the eleventh hour (with fifty-nine minutes to go!), you could snag yourself a great deal!  Remember, if the hotel isn’t fully booked, it’s losing money, and so will offer some real steals to fill those rooms.

Enjoy your well-deserved week off!

Ted Jenkin (@tedjenkin) is the CEO of oXYGen Financial, a financial advisory firm managing more than six hundred million dollars.  He is focused on being your financial advisor and your financial therapist. He is a frequent guest writer for the Wall Street Journal and personal finance expert for CNN’s “Headline News Weekend Express” and The Weather Channel.

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