Spring Break – Ballin’ On a Budget

Next week brings another milestone in my college career – my last spring break. This will possibly be my last trip while on a college student budget (I hope). Two of my friends and I will be traveling to New York City and Boston, which, unfortunately for us, are notoriously expensive cities. These destinations aren’t the best options for students ballin’ on a budget, so the overall goal of the trip will be to somehow stretch our limited dollars to indulge in the most experiences as possible.

 

Last spring break, I took a similar trip to NYC with some of my friends from high school. This trip was shorter, but I learned some great ways to limit spending that I will certainly be using this time around. To measure my penny pinching success, I have two objectives. I will restrict spending this week to $100 and aim to keep within a $350 budget for the week of the trip. I have also broken down this year’s trip into three strategies that I will implement to limit spending:

  1. Minimize costs for lodging
  2. Minimize transportation costs
  3. Minimize entertainment/attraction spending

 

Below are some of the tricks I learned last year and how I’ll be using them again, but with even more finesse to achieve the goal of maximizing the bang for my buck. These are my tactics for achieving my objectives:

 

  1. Stay at the Mom and Dad Inn and use Air BnB.

Hotels can be overpriced and expensive, so we will be staying at two Air BnB apartments while visiting the North. However, even when split three ways, the costs of big city lodging can add up, so we will be staying with my parents, who live in Hartford, Connecticut, the night we fly in and the night before we fly back to Auburn (Atlanta). It doesn’t hurt to eat a few free meals, either.

 

  1. Keep an eye out for sales on flight tickets.

Remember, the sooner a ticket is bought, the cheaper it will be. In other words, buying last-minute tickets is a recipe for spending more than the tickets are worth. We decided to go on this trip early last semester, so we had the opportunity to take advantage of a big ticket sale in November. This saved us a LOT of cash and stress later on.

 

  1. Take advantage of public transportation.

Driving (and finding a car to drive) is stressful in any unfamiliar place, especially NYC and Boston. We will be embarking on many train and subway adventures on this trip. We will be taking a train from Connecticut to New York and from New York to Boston. While in NYC and Boston, we will heavily be relying on the subway systems to get us where we want to go. It may seem intimidating, but the risk of getting lost (or worse) are worth the convenience and money saved. (Tip: New York City is not a great place to use Uber.)

 

  1. Choose one thing to splurge on.

I dislike mutating “food” into an adjective, but I am a total foodie. I decided that it would be nearly impossible for me to limit my food* spending. After all, New York City and Boston are famous for their cuisine. How could I say no to a slice of cheesy NYC pizza or a bowl of savory clam chowder? (I actually don’t like seafood, so saying no to anything clam would be easy for me, but you get the point.)

*This also includes adult beverages.

 

  1. Research free, discounted and inexpensive activities.

The point of visiting a new city is to dive in to the local attractions (Spoiler alert: this ain’t cheap). I was surprised to find how little many things cost. Guided tours for The Freedom Trail in Boston, which costs a whopping $10, and taking a ferry to the Statue of Liberty is about $25. Other attractions are free (Yes, FREE!) and just require a reservation or donation, like seeing the taping of Seth Meyers’ show in New York City, which required an application, but is free.

 

*Update 3/19/2018: I went over the $350 budget…by $150.