Spring break or spring broke?

Anna Duszkiewicz

Whether flying to Cancun or driving to Myrtle Beach, a few money-saving tips can keep vacations from denting students’ wallets

Spring break.

Some may dream about it from the first day of fall semester. After months of Ramen Noodles, Easy Mac and slaving away at school, the idea of spring break can sound like the college student’s oasis. For the average student, though, money – or rather, lack thereof – quickly puts a damper on fantasies of the awaited getaway.

Meredith Vlna, sophomore fashion merchandising major, said she and her friends wanted to go to a beach but had no money.

“I’m sick of Ohio,” she said, adding she has come up with a cost-efficient solution. “We’re going to drive down to Virginia Beach and live out of my car for three days.”

Vlna said it would be cheap because they would only pay for food and gas.

Some students are able to get around the money hurdle.

“I’m not worried because my parents are paying for it,” said Danica Terlitsky, freshman fashion merchandising major.

Terlitsky said she is driving to Panama City with some friends.

Lucas Conrad, junior criminal justice major, also said he is going to Panama City. Conrad said he and his friends are splitting the cost and driving.

“It’s cheaper when everyone pitches in,” he said.

Frederick Schroath, associate dean for the Graduate School of Management, said there are many options for students who want to go away and have fun but lack the funds to do so.

“Ecotourism is becoming an interesting way to get away and save some money,” he said.

Ecotourism, as defined on ecotourism.org, is “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.”

Schroath said there are a number of groups that offer the opportunity to do some good and have fun at the same time.

“The Kent State trip to Biloxi is only one of many, many examples,” he said. “A number of religious organizations sponsor trips to various parts of the world where one can enjoy the sun, beaches and support a cause.”

Whatever the destination, planning is required. Jennifer Stone, manager of consumer affairs at Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards in Denver, said in a Young Money article that planning ahead is key.

She said the best deals can be found early on, rather than in March when prices are high.

“Companies nationwide bump their prices up for student travelers,” Stone said.

In addition, she said creating a budget spreadsheet can help students save.

“Write down your income in one column, and write down your expenses in another column,” she said.

Schroath said the best way to save money is to budget carefully before the trip and then stick to it.

“There are controls you can place on yourself, such as pre-paying for travel and hotels and using debit cards,” he said.

“The most important thing to watch in a budget is all of the purchases after you get to your destination,” Schroath said.

He said travel costs should be paid upfront, and the rest of the money put on a debit card for use during the trip.

“Use the debit card for purchases at your destination, then you’ll be able to check your bank account from an ATM and know exactly what you’ve spent,” he said.

Stone said cutting unnecessary spending helps. “Rent movies instead of going to the theaters, or limit yourself to one latte a week,” she said.

Eileen Smith, sophomore fashion merchandising major, said she has been planning ahead and saving money for her trip to Baltimore and New York City this spring break.

“I haven’t been going shopping,” Smith said, adding that despite her savings, she is still worried about her spending money.

“Usually, the most expensive purchases, whether travel or otherwise, are impulse purchases,” Schroath said.

Contact features correspondent Anna Duszkiewicz at [email protected].