Keep it cheap: Fervor for frugality

ReAnne Utemark

If the thought of staying in Topeka during spring break leaves you a little cold, there are more options that will not empty out your scholarship fund. With a little planning and knowledge, the trip can be cheap, but the experience will provide rich memories.

The first thing to remember is to book your flight early. Whether traveling internationally or domestically, flights are almost always cheaper if they are booked well in advance. Of course, this brings up another point: if you are traveling internationally, you need to book your passport yesterday or sooner. United States citizens need a passport to travel to Mexico and Canada. If you do not have a passport yet and are traveling outside the U.S., you should either change your plans or try and get an expedited passport. Good luck with that; government bureaucracy is not your friend. Speaking of bureaucracy, make sure to double-check the Federal Aviation Administration’s Web site to see what the latest restrictions for luggage and various other aspects of flight are. It will save headaches in the long run. Getting to the airport an hour before your flight leaves Kansas City International should be fine, but an hour and a half never hurt, either.

Using Web sites like, or can provide good ticket prices, for the most part. However, you do not necessarily have to use these sites. Going to the airline Web site will get you the same prices, though they will not be neatly compared.

Students can get a cheaper fare through Web sites like and These sites provide good travel prices for those who can prove they work at or are a student at almost any institution in the country. Once the flight is chosen, something to consider is frequent flyer miles. One trip can build them up and will help with future travel plans. Apply for the frequent flyer program from the airline that you choose and then book your flight. It is possible to retroactively apply the flight, but it is easier to apply for the program first and then book the flight.

When you arrive at your destination of choice, two problems present themselves: transportation and lodging. For larger cities transportation is easy because usually, the public transportation system is reliable and runs often. Inform yourself of the transportation options in the area. It is also something to consider in your budget; if the only way to get around is taxis, that is going to be more expensive than a day pass on a subway. This is vital for getting to lodging, getting around the area and returning to the airport on time. If you are afraid of a little walking then you might want to reconsider this adventure.

Since the movie “Hostel,” hostels have gotten a rather frightening reputation. However, hostels are one of the cheapest, easiest ways to sleep in a foreign place. Most hostels have Web sites where the building and rooms can be viewed. There are also many options when it comes to hostels. One bed in a room with a private bathroom can be reserved or one bed in a room with many other beds with a shared bathroom can be used. Check out your options, choose carefully and don’t worry. Those staying in hostels should be aware of their surroundings and their choices, but not everyone staying in a hostel is trying to kill you.

Try and choose a hostel or cheap hotel with a breakfast. If not, try to find a grocery store or a market and get some fruit or granola bars for breakfast. Eat cheap when you can, but do not skimp on the local cuisine. McDonald’s for lunch is fine, but try something local for dinner.

Check out all you can. The only way the trip is too costly is if you do not get enough out of it. See the museums, see the churches, see the landmarks, whatever there is to see. Take lots of pictures. Pictures are cheap and a good way to document your trip without having to buy souvenirs. Go with friends, it is safer and you have someone to hold the camera while you pose in front of that cool statue.

Traveling is one of the best things to do during a college career. One cannot be prepared for the real world without going out to see it. Have fun, be careful and have happy travels.