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Save money skip scams on spring break
WINDSOR, Colo. (3/13/12)--Your midterms are finished, your bags are packed, and you're ready to embark on a week of forgetting academic cares. Spring break is all about cutting loose, but if you let that relaxed mindset guide your vacation spending as well, you'll be in for a rude financial awakening when you return to campus (Investopedia Feb. 8).

Don't worry--this doesn't mean you sacrifice a fun spring break entirely. You can curb spending and still enjoy a memorable trip. These money-saving suggestions from Kinoli Inc. should help:

  • Remember your student ID. Some hotels or rental car companies offer discounts for students, so don't be afraid to ask for one when you're booking lodging and transportation. You also can inquire about student discounts throughout your break--many restaurants, museums and other attractions have special pricing for students, regardless of where you're from.
  • Avoid weekend travel. Flying on the weekend is almost always pricier than flying during the week. If possible, schedule travel time for weekdays. You may have to come back a day or two early, but that also means fewer nights spent in a hotel, which can save even more money.
  • Look into gift cards. Before you depart, check out discount gift card websites like GiftCardGranny.com. You often can find gift cards for airfare, accommodations, and gas for as much as 50% off, sometimes more.
  • Think beyond hotels. That swanky boutique hotel might be tempting, but you can save big by considering other lodging options. Think about staying in a hostel, even to cut costs for just a night or two. Research hostels on HostelWorld.com to find one that's clean and safe. You also can find a place to crash through CouchSurfing.org, which connects travelers with people willing to host them.
  • Stock the cooler. Instead of eating out for every meal of the day, pack some food of your own or visit a local grocery store when you arrive at your vacation spot. You still can check out restaurants--just scale back your spending in that area. One idea: Take care of your own breakfast and lunch, and head to a restaurant for dinner.
While you're having a blast on break, make sure you've covered your bases back home, too. Spring-break season can lead to "family scams," which occur when scammers call parents, claiming their vacationing child is in trouble. Scammers then ask parents to wire money for medical care or bail. It's often only after parents have sent money that they realize they were set up for a scam--and their money is long gone.

To prevent this, MoneyGram, a global money transfer company, recommends keeping a close eye on personal belongings when you're lying out on the beach or sipping drinks at local bars or clubs. Scammers often will steal student IDs or other identifying information to find parents they can swindle.

And, as much as you may groan at the thought, check in with your parents a few times while you're on break. By letting Mom and Dad know you're safe and having a great time, you're also arming them with the information they need to spot a scam before it happens.

For more information, watch "Money and Travel" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.
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