So you're going on a spring break road trip
You've decided to go on a 'road trip' for spring break. This all sounds well and good until you try to start planning the thing and you want it to be really epic but you didn't realize how much you had to do.
This spring break I decided to go on my first official 'road trip' with friends to Minneapolis. Why Minneapolis? I'm honestly not sure. But after planning the whole thing, I'm here to give you my newfound expertise.
Choosing your mates.
This sounds like the easiest step in your journey ' but it isn't. You might be surprised to hear that your best friends don't always make the best traveling companions. Make sure you choose people who have similar interests and similar budgets as you do. I've learned from experience not to go on a trip with a bunch of photographers, for instance, because it takes forever for them to get somewhere as they always have to stop to take pictures. Don't travel with people whose budgets are way tighter than yours because you won't be able to go shopping if you'd like, or go to that museum you really wanted to that costs money. But also don't go with people whose budgets are way larger than yours. After all, you'd rather save money than stay in that nice hotel.
Deciding where to go.
You've got your team, now you just need a destination. Think about how far you're willing to drive, if you want to brave the northern cold, where you have people who would host you, which events or landmarks you'd like to go to, and if there are any places near one another that interest you. Part of why we chose Minneapolis is it allows us to easily stop in Ohio, Indianapolis and Chicago. This way, we can see several different cities without going way out of our way.
Finding the cheapest possible place to sleep without being murdered.
If you're anything like me, you want to spend the least amount of money on hotels. Of course, it helps if you're traveling somewhere you have connections who will host you. But if you're like us and don't, you have several different options.
Most big cities have a variety of hostels available. These are great because most people there will be young students and travelers as well, and they have cheap prices. I used Hostel World to find one in Chicago that's only $20 for a each person per night (with free parking). If you're traveling with a larger group (we have 4), it's normally cheaper to get a private than stay in the dorm-style rooms, which is really nice!
Airbnb is also a great option on a budget! Plus, you get to stay in an actual house or apartment. If you don't feel comfortable just renting a room in someone's house, you can search for ones that allow you to rent out your own floor, or a whole apartment, so your group can have more privacy. Depending on the city, this could be cheaper than even a hostel (In Chicago the hostels were cheaper, but in Minneapolis Airbnb was cheaper). For the most part, ones in the heart of the city are more expensive, so you might have to drive a bit to activities.
If you're really adventurous, you could try CouchSurfing, which is kind of like a free Airbnb. Instead of paying to stay in a home, generally you will help out your host in some way with chores or housework. Although I haven't personally used this, I know people who have had a good experience. I do know hosts get to choose who stays with them, so if you haven't already built up a good reputation on the site, it may be difficult to find someone who will host you (I'm not sure, though).
If none of these work, just try googling cheap hotels. I like Red Roof Inns because they're a good price if you share beds, but they aren't sketchy like most motels.
Packing checklist (AKA don't be like me and underpack)
Travelers tend to fall into one of two categories: overpacker and underpacker. As an overpacker, I freak out because I don't want to overpack but turn out to havebrought less than what I need. Here are a few things to remember.
Car snacks. Very important! Don't forget water bottles or juice boxes as well.
Chargers. Double check you have these! It's also good if you have a car charger so someone can have the directions up the whole time.
Clothing for EVERY type of weather. I know it says it will be 70 degrees all week. Don't believe it ... bring the jacket anyway. Weather can be very fickle.
Every pair of socks you own. I mean it! You can never have too many.
Shoes that are easy to take on and off, because who wants to wear their shoes in the car?
Something slightly fancy. My mom used to tell us to pack 'a nice polo,' if those even exist. But you get the idea ... you never know some shnazzy party may come up.
TOOTHBRUSH. I always forget this for some reason.
laptop. So you can pretend like you'll do homework over break.
Small blanket and pillow for the car.
Something to do, maybe a book, journal.
Mints or gum. They'll keep you alert, and keeps peoples' breath minty fresh.
Sunglasses. So you can look cool as heck.
Music. Make some mix CD's or a good spotify playlist. I recommend the 8tracks app because it has less commercials and you can choose a playlist for your mood.
Finding cool places.
Don't be ashamed to go to the tourist-y places (like the bean!) It's O.K. Really. We aren't judging you. There's a reason those things are popular. If you want to experience 'hip' local places, the best way to find them is to ask people who live in the area. Normally, I ask friends who live in or have been to my destination, but it also helps to just meet and ask people while you're there.
What to spend your money on.
Trips can get pricey if you let them. And it can be difficult to decide what to spend your tiny budget on. Decide what's important to you. I like to have a few fun meals wherever I go ' it's part of the experience ' but not spend all my money on food. For the most part I can live off snacks and PB&J. I also like to go to a few non-free activities. Choose ones that are important to you. For me it's usually a certain museum, or in the case of Minneapolis, riding a roller coaster inside of a mall. You may also want to buy some cute small things to remember your trip (postcards, stickers for your laptop or water bottle, a book from a cute book store). And don't forget photos are free.