Vacationing: College Style

by Katie Voitik

Imagine this: next weekend is a three day weekend. You and your friends want to hang out and do something fun, since there’s so much time. Why not plan a trip? From personal experience, I’m here to talk about how to take awesome trips/vacations with your friends while still living on a college budget.

Last weekend for MLK day, my friends and I wanted to do something. Over break, we got together a group on Facebook and discussed potential ways of going out of town that weekend and came up with a brilliant plan: why not go to the Wisconsin Dells? So that’s exactly what we did. Now, some of you might be thinking: the Dells? Isn’t that super expensive? Well, yes, but mostly for week-long trips or if you have a large family. We put our heads together and came up with a cheap, two-day trip that cost me a grand total (including food, hotel, gas, and random other stuff) of (drumroll)….$70. That’s it. For a trip to the Dells, to a huge waterpark resort for two days, that’s a great deal. Here’s how I did it and how you can do it too:

1) Pick a cheaper place to stay. You don’t need to splurge on a five star hotel, as long as you are with your friends, you will have fun no matter where you stay! We stayed at the Wilderness resort as opposed to the Kalahari (waaaaay more expensive) for that very reason.

2) Plan meals ahead. None of us wanted to spend over a hundred dollars on food. So we decided to eat out as little as possible. Yes, it was tempting to go to all the delicious looking restaurants (whoever decided to put a candy shop with fudge and saltwater taffy in the hotel obviously knew I was going to be staying there), but there’s nothing wrong with packing lunches and other meals! We only ate out once, at a nice restaurant downtown. The other meals we all split the cost of groceries the day before, packed a cooler, and roughed it in the hotel. Still delicious, and more time to swim!

3) Calculate gas costs. If you don’t need two cars, don’t take two cars. Obviously make sure everyone has a seat belt, but if you need to get a little cramped in one car, the gas cost will go down considerably.

4) Spend time doing activities offered for free rather than the paid ones. This more applies to the Dells or other areas like it, but if your hotel has a free pool/waterpark, don’t pay to go to another one! Take advantage of it! We swam every day for like five hours a day, and the only activity we paid for was 3D mini golf, which also was fairly reasonable. Also: 3D golf is a cool concept, but really weird. Just saying.

5) Get a group together! The more people there are, the less gas and the room will cost. We had five people go on our trip and that was a big reason why it didn’t cost as much.

Other options could be going on a trip where you can stay with relatives (no hotel), drive opposed to flying (it will not be fun, but you can deal with it!), or going somewhere that doesn’t cost anything, like a state park for hiking, camping, or a beach. There are a lot of options out there that are cheaper and tons of fun. The greatest experiences I’ve had with my friends are road trips to random places, like the Dells trip. Take advantage of living near your best friends in college and go out and bond with them!

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