Spring break conjures up images of beach parties in Cancun or Miami. But while traveling during spring break can be a great way to step back from the demands of college, it’s also important to ensure your plans don’t add financial stress to your life.
After all, the cost of college — and rates of student loan borrowing — are higher than ever, a situation that’s creating a burden for millions of Americans. Considering this reality, you might choose to use spring break to make money instead of spending it.
The students below found that working during spring break helped them make extra money while many of their peers were away. Here’s how they used this time off from school to boost their finances.
1. Picking up extra shifts during spring break
Meghan Davis, a student at Valencia College, earns extra money as a restaurant server. For Davis, spring break isn’t about road-tripping to the Florida Keys — instead, it means she can boost her income by working additional hours while many of the other servers are away.
“That week serves as a great time to make money and pick up extra shifts because the average student does want to chill and go to the beach,” said Davis. “I have been a server most of my college experience, so every shift is an opportunity to cash out.”
“I definitely wish that I had been able to take a weeklong vacation, but I have always needed to pay my own bills, so I love taking spring break as an opportunity to make extra cash,” she said.
Realistically, not everyone can afford to go on the type of spring break vacation you see in the movies. If you’re supporting yourself through school, using this week off to pick up extra shifts could be a wise move that benefits your bank account significantly.
2. Saving money during spring break to pay off student loans
For Alexis Carter, choosing to work during spring break didn’t just give her the chance to make money — it also meant she could save more of that hard-earned cash.
“Spring break trips can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, and most everyone would agree in saying college students are notoriously poor,” said Carter. “So instead of traveling the world and spending money on flights, hotels, excursions, souvenirs, etc., I chose to stay in my college town and work.”
While many of her peers were away, Carter used her spring breaks to work in her school’s marketing office at Southern Utah University, as a server at a bakery and at a call center. Doing this, she said, “saved me quite a bit of money I could put toward my student loans.”
Although you typically don’t have to start paying your student loans until your grace period ends six months after graduation, making small payments as a student could stop interest from accruing on your debt. If you can swing it, throwing payments at your loans while you’re still in school could keep your balance from growing too big until full repayment starts.
3. Using the break from school to grow a side hustle
For some entrepreneurial college students, spring break offers an opportunity to create their own income streams via side hustles. Drew DuBoff, for instance, runs a virtual assistant business while studying culinary arts full time at Johnson & Wales University.
“During my spring break, I was able to consult with my lawyer to set up my [limited liability company] and new [Employer Identification Number], set up a new business bank account, and do my taxes,” said DuBoff.
“Vacationing provides temporary pleasure and enjoyment, whereas working on my business has the potential to provide me passive income and happiness further down the line,” DuBoff said.
Jake Etoll, a student at Le Moyne College, also chose to forgo a trip to Fort Lauderdale in favor of working on his own enterprise.
“Over the next week I’m planning meetings with potential clients to earn their business,” said Etoll, who helps companies manage their social media platforms.
“Sure, a week in Fort Lauderdale would have been amazing, but when you want to succeed and make a name for yourself and your business, priorities become clear, and the goal, if you can hustle for it, gets that much closer.”
Determined to vacay? Money-saving advice for travelers
If you’ve resolved to travel anyway, but you still want to keep costs low, make sure to search around to find a good deal. By taking prices into account upfront, you can control how much you spend and ensure your plans fit into your budget.
1. Use flight comparison sites to find the best price
Thanks to the World Wide Web, it’s easy to shop around to find the cheapest flights. Sites such as Skyscanner, Kayak and Hipmunk make it easy to play around with dates and times of day to find budget-friendly options.
Don’t forget to take supplemental costs into account, such as luggage or meal fees. Although some budget airlines offer low prices, you often have to spend extra to check a bag or to choose where you sit.
If flight prices are inflated during spring break, consider traveling somewhere closer. Taking a road trip with friends could be a less expensive way to get to your destination.
2. Share a hotel room with a few roomies
Along with transportation, your other major travel expense is accommodation. If you can split that cost with a few roommates, you can save a sizeable amount of money.
According to CheapTickets.com, college students’ spring break budgets decreased by 28% in 2017 compared with the previous year, so reducing costs through room sharing could be a big help.
If you don’t want to share a bed with several of your closest friends, however, consider alternatives to a hotel room, such as an Airbnb property or hostel. Sites like Hostelworld and Hostels.com can help you find affordable lodging in single or shared rooms.
3. Work out a spending plan before you leave
Before heading to your destination, sit down and write up a spending plan. Take a look at your finances to figure out what would be a reasonable amount to spend each day.
When you know what your budget is, you’ll feel more in control of your spending. And you don’t have to suffer any guilt about that extra piña colada on the beach if it’s within your budget for the day.
While it’s easy to spend without thinking on vacation, taking the time to set financial boundaries will let you enjoy your trip without returning to a bunch of credit card bills you can’t afford.
4. Consider an alternative spring break experience
Not everyone aims for the typical spring break destinations. You might consider less common ways to spend time away from campus, such as volunteering with Habitat for Humanity or United Way. According to Carter, you could even find help in covering expenses.
“If you really want to travel abroad, then find scholarships or sponsorships,” Carter said. “There are plenty of service and volunteer programs which will pay all or a portion of your travel expenses.”
And if traveling somewhere distant is out of the question, Carter recommends enjoying a staycation at home or on campus.
“If you can’t afford to fly, try visiting locations in your own backyard,” she suggested. “Every college has hiking spots, historic buildings, museums and more surrounding the campus, so explore your surroundings without breaking the bank.”
Get creative about designing your spring break experience, so you can enjoy yourself without overspending.
Take personal finances into account when planning your spring break
College can be demanding and stressful, and it’s important to take time to rejuvenate. If you don’t let yourself take a break, you could experience burnout, and your mental health might suffer.
But relaxing shouldn’t impoverish you, and an expensive trip away could cause even more stress than it relieves. If you’re debating between traveling and making money during spring break, check in with your personal finances first.
It could also help to weigh the value of experiences against their monetary costs. Even an amazing trip probably wouldn’t be worth the cost of taking on high-interest credit card debt to pay for it.
What’s more, spring break could also open up more money-making opportunities than during the rest of the school year. You might be able to use this quiet time on campus to pick up extra shifts as Davis did, or to focus on growing your side hustle like DuBoff.
Ultimately, you know where your priorities lie and what decision is best for you. But don’t forget to take money into account, or else your fun spring break trip could come with the bitter taste of financial regret.
Want to earn extra money?Here are the best side hustle opportunities!
|Company||Type of Work||Requirements|
|Ridesharing||Car and smartphone|
|Rent out your car||Own a vehicle|
|Rent out space||Room to host guests|