Oct 2, 2007

Traveling on a student budget

by Miranda Canady, Life Reporter

    With fall break quickly approaching, many students arranging travel plans are left to wonder, what is the cheapest way to travel?
One of the most important elements of a trip is the transportation. It is also one of the most vital and easiest ways to save money when traveling. 
    Sophomore Sarah Seaman took 12 girls home to Cocoa Beach last Spring Break on what spanned out to be a 12-hour drive. She said the best way to save money was by carpooling.
    “We tried to fit as many people in the car as possible so that gas prices could be split,” said Seaman.
    The girls split up, fitting into three cars to make the lengthy trip to the beach, costing them each $36 in gas. 
    For those students traveling too far to carpool, a cheap flight can be found at www.studentuniverse.com. The site is designed specifically with students in mind, allowing only students with an e-mail address ending in “.edu” to obtain certain discounts. Although fewer options are available for flight times and destinations compared to other online sites, finding a cheap flight could save  money in the long run.
    Lodging is another costly component of a trip. Students can save money without having to sleep in their car.
    Junior Erica Mesman is traveling to Nashville this fall break with three other friends. Thanks to friends in the city, the four girls will experience a break free of lodging costs.
    Mesman said, “It’s all about who you know and who can hook you up with free hotel rooms and let you crash on their dorm floor.”
According to www.youngmoney.com, one of the best ways to save money on lodging is to avoid tourist areas where costs are typically higher. Instead, find a hotel in a town close to the destination and travel to and from the location throughout the day. 
    Another lodging tip from www.youngmoney.com is to travel in the off-season, July through November, when prices are lower and hotels and attractions are yearning for people to visit. Also, look for free attractions. Most towns have free parks, museums, and sometimes even carnivals. 
    Junior Kayla Newbold found another way to save money when traveling. She makes the 11-hour trip from northern Indiana to Liberty every year and found that bringing her own snacks was the best way to save cash.
    Newbold said, “When I travel, I bring snacks that I have at home so I don’t have to spend money on food when I am on my way to my destination.” 
    Believe it or not, the cost of food on trips can really add up. A McDonald’s run here, a snack break there or even a five-star meal just once can quickly rob the wallet of cash that could have been used on other expenses. Instead, stock up on food before leaving for a trip by making a run to the local grocery store. Plan out meals in advance to determine what days will be spent eating out and what days will be for eating in, which helps to avoid the temptation to grab something quick.
    When planning a trip, the key thing to remember is the planning itself. Planning can save both time and money and is essential so that money can be budgeted, allowing for splurges every now and then. Planning in advance also has many benefits because things can usually be bought cheaper when bought in advance, such as hotel rooms, flights and concert tickets. 
    Overall, the best approach to take when planning a trip is to do research on the destination. By doing research, it will be easy to make a budget of places to stay, where to eat and events to see.

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