Do you hear that spanish guitar strumming in the distance? Do you see the sun setting off in the distance creating a pink, coral, citrus rainbow along the Miami skyline? That’s your budget friendly spring break calling your name. The 305 has been a spring break hotspot for decades and for good reason. The weather rivals that of a tropical island, the city is steeped in Latin culture from the food to the music to the people, and the night life is otherworldly. Thinking of a spring break destination when you are living on a college student budget can feel like a luxury that simply doesn’t add up. Thinking of the cash you have to dole out for flights, hotels, entertainment, and food; going down the street, a few blocks from campus, to a motel in town for a weekend can seem like a trip too extravagant for your bank account. However, like all great things in life, a Miami, FL spring break giveaway is within your grasp with the right planning, budgeting, and saving. Grab 3 of your best friends and you can cut costs on big ticket items like hotels by dividing the total among the group. This month, we are headed to the sunny beaches of Miami, FL for spring break!
One of the most important parts of a budget friendly vacation is booking your trip ahead of time and during travel dates that are ideal for where you are going. Since you will be traveling during the spring break season, between late February to early April, there isn’t much you can do to accomodate a different time frame. However, if you book your flight months in advance, you are less likely to run into last minute spikes with everyone else rushing to the same location. Work around your school schedule and work that sweet spot where midterms have just ended and the time for spring break is just about to start. While every school’s spring break schedule will vary, you can book 5 day, 4 night trip from 3/20-3/24. The most ideal time to travel to Miami is outside of the rainy season and before the temperature becomes unbearable which is between November and May. For this trip during this time frame, you can book a round trip flight for as little as $390. Tack on an extra $50, split 4 ways, for a shuttle or Uber from the airport to your hotel and your total is $402.
If you don’t know already, no one is staying in hotels anymore. When you are on a budget, a nice hotel in a prime area can be a money trap. Don’t waste your funds on a fancy room that you’ll only sleep in. On the flip side, don’t spend your spring break trip in a run down hotel with questionable bedding and sketchy guests. Find a happy middle place with Airbnb. The perks of renting a place on Airbnb is that there are price points to fit just about any budget and you get much more for the money you are willing to spend. Unlike a hotel, you have a home away from home feel where you can truly unwind and enjoy yourself and many of the homes are located within walking distance of the downtown Miami action. An Airbnb can start as little as $165 a night (hint: this one) and include all of the amenities that you want and are looking for. Finding a hotel that is steps away from the vacation scene is going to devour your budget and it’s simply not an efficient way to allocate your funds. An Airbnb is cost and location friendly. An Airbnb at $165 per night, with added taxes and fees, can cost $840 in total. Split between you and your friends, you are looking at $210 for your entire stay.
Outside of the crazy nightlife, Miami is all about the mouth watering food. Some of the country’s most praised chefs have restaurants in Miami and serve up dishes you cannot find anywhere else. There’s no shortage of places to chow down in the sunny city but one of the most iconic places that would be criminal not to visit while you’re there include the seafood landmark Joe’s Stone Crab. Vacationers and locals alike flock to this location for the freshest, most delectable seafood in the city. Finding delicious, one of a kind places to eat will not be the hard part. Not wasting a large portion of your budget on satisfying your voyeur taste buds, on the other hand, will be. Check out what the locals and other visitors are saying about eateries before your trip by using sites (like Eater Miami) the compiles almost exhaustive lists of the best places to visit and their price points. This will help you avoid wasting money on food that is disappointing. For a 5 day trip, a $250 budget for food should be more than enough.
Nightlife & Sightseeing
The streets of Miami are steaming with music, spirit, and an incredible nightlife when the sun goes down and during the day, the city is a hub of rich history and culture that you don’t want to pass up. While the public transportation system is not the best in Miami, you can save on overpriced taxi and Uber rides by mapping out the places you want to go beforehand. Each day, choose an area or sight you want to visit and work the cost of the ride into your mutual budget. Don’t limit yourself to the boozy strip as you can save that for when the sun has set. Miami is much more than it’s party persona. Spend the day in Little Havana soaking up the vibrant Cuban culture or layout on the breathtakingly beautiful beaches for the day and bring food to avoid pricey grub or go down to the Everglades and go on a swamp tour (Groupon usually has a deal or excursions) and really see all that Miami has to offer while staying within budget. When the night rolls around, do a quick change and visit bars and lounges that aren’t on the beaten path. Spending a night on the strip is totally reasonable but can blow through your money fast as the bars want to attract tourists that are willing to spend more to have a good time. Talk to some locals and find out where they go to have a good time. Research local bars (using lists like this) and explore. That is what vacationing is all about.
Let’s total the cost of your Miami spring break budget vacation:
Flight: NYC to MIA $390
Airport Transportation: $50 split between 4 people
Airbnb: As low as $210 for your portion ($840 in total)
Eating & Drinking: $250
General Transportation: About $20