Before heading out on what could be the best ever student trip, it’s helpful to figure out a budget. For students on the road, this means assessing vehicle expenses, such as gas and parking, meals including dining out and snacks, souvenirs, lodging and entertainment. The planning stage also means determining how much cash to bring along, research on what’s happening at the planned destination and what to do in case of an emergency. Because budgeting for the trip is in this phase of preparation, students may wish to purchase a student discount card or party packages in advance if traveling to popular spring break destinations like Panama City and South Padre Island or ski equipment rentals and lift tickets for a ski resort such as Aspen and Beaver Creek.
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Traveling with friends will not only make a trip safer, it will also reduce costs for overnight accommodations and transportation expenses. Take, for instance, a group of four friends driving down to South Padre Island and staying six nights at a hotel at $100 a night. If all four friends were to chip in equal shares, it would be just $150 each plus taxes for the lodging for the entire stay. Similarly, friends can chip in for gas, which happens to be at one of its lowest prices in years, saving even more. The important thing to remember is that there is no time to waste for booking reservations. As it gets closer to spring break, the availability of hotels and rooms decreases with each passing day.
Take Advantage Of Student Travel Sites
Students can find great deals with established student travel sites like StudentUniverse and STA Travel. Both sites offer similar discounts for flights, hotels and hostels, tours and international travel. Although STA has been around much longer than StudentUniverse, the latter may have an edge in the best possible rates, due to partnerships with travel aggregate site Kayak, tour specialists Viator and a large number of major airlines. However, students should still do a price comparison between these two top student travel sites before making a purchase, as well as calling hotels directly, where no middleman is involved. Even StudentUniverse recommends booking with a hotel directly.
What To Pack
Just as with any type of traveler, students can benefit by making a list of things to bring along for the trip. Items like student IDs, medical and auto insurance cards, driver’s licenses or other valid forms of identification should be one of the first items on the list, along with credit cards, bank cards, travel itineraries and, if applicable, personal medications. Determining what clothes and others items to bring is dependent upon the destination, such as gloves and scarves for a ski destination and bathing suits, flip-flops, sunglasses and sunscreen for a summer-like destination. Other items not to forget include smartphone chargers, toiletries, emergency contact information and a set of car keys. Optional items can be things like headphones, earplugs, a camera and pillows and extra blankets. If traveling with a group of friends on the road, students should pack only one suitcase or large bag to allow space for everyone else. Of course, if students are traveling to an international destination, they must bring along their passport and check to see if there are any travel restrictions.
Bring Groceries And Drinks
It’s no secret that one of the biggest expenses for student travel is dining out. The best way to keep costs low is to bring along plenty of groceries in advance of the trip. Many hotels offer complimentary breakfast and some rooms come equipped with at least a microwave oven and refrigerator. By preparing some meals, students can use the money saved on other things such as tours and entertainment. And lastly, students who plan on drinking while vacation might want to bring some of their own beer, wine and/or spirits for the trip instead of spending more money than necessary in bars and nightclubs.
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Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.