Winter Break. Spring Break. Summer Break. Study Abroad.
All of these are popular times a college student would scrap up their leftover change to travel the world. Unfortunately for us college students, traveling can rack up some pretty expensive bills and when you’re studying full time, how can you afford to take the extravagant trips that adorn your Instagram feed?
Cue *insert college travel company here* to save the day. A ten-day, all-expenses paid trip to your desired destination and don’t forget to look at all the fun things you’re going to do! It’s priced specifically for you – college students! The flashy colors on the web page distract you long enough to get to the trip checkout where you see the final price of the trip and it’s far past an ‘affordable price’ as promised on the advertisement. Some of these group travel trips advertised to college students may include airfare and some meals, but they often don’t cover every meal or any drinks you may want to enjoy on your vacation.
These ten-day college trips generally run over 2000 dollars, far past my own budget unless I’m working full time and I know I’m not alone. Working part-time, the average college student will make 14,400 in pretax income each year, including financial aid which is presumably (and should be) going toward tuition. Even though 80% of college students are financially supported by their parents, it doesn’t negate the exorbitant cost of these “college-student” trips.
I analyzed a trip from EF College Spring Break priced at 2800 dollars. This trip includes a flight, 10 days of accommodations and excursions, and a tour guide. After looking at the included excursions, flight details, and accommodations, I duplicated the trip itinerary with a tighter budget in mind.
Flight from my college town to Belize: 620
Accommodations (I chose AirBnB, and found a private residence) for 10 nights: 50 x 7 = 350
Additional transport in Belize can be as cheap or expensive as you’d like if you depending on what mode of transport you take. Rich on time but not on money? Take the bus where trips run only a few dollars.
I also picked out several excursions to do from Belize that are similar or exactly the same as those listed in the trip. After the round trip flight and 10 nights accommodation in an AirBnB, the most expensive part of the trip is covered at 970. That leaves $183 per day, if you’re sticking to the sticker price of the group travel trip, to do whatever you like, which is a large budget for a place where the American dollar is worth so much. A snorkeling trip like the one included in the trip? $125. Transportation and hiking around ancient Mayan ruins? $40. A zip-line and cave-tubing tour? $75. Many of these excursions come in well under $183 dollars leaving ample room in your budget for food, drink, and souvenirs.
So what are you paying for?
You’re paying for a tour guide. There is always a person on these trips that will act as your guide. If you’re in a country where you don’t speak the language, this can be a plus. However, this person is working full-time and part of your fee is going to paying their salary.
You’re paying for a group. Traveling solo for the first time can be intimidating. This takes all the anxiety out of traveling alone away.
You’re paying for convenience. There is something to be said for not having to plan any aspect of your trip. You often get to skip lines, your itinerary is already sorted out so you don’t miss anything, and transportation is all figured out so you don’t have to plan out your trip from point A to point B. You may have to decide a few places to eat or go out at night, but otherwise, your trip will be nearly worry-free.
So is it worth it?
Are you looking to relax and not worry about your whole trip or do you want to follow your own schedule (instead of an itinerary made for you)? It all comes down to how much you want to do and how much you’re willing to spend. However, these college trips that being advertised as “deals” are far from such and further research should be done before you purchase that “spring break deal of a lifetime.”