Spring break is right around the corner, and if you haven’t already started, it’s time to get your planning underway. But with airfare and gas prices pinching our pockets, many are looking for ways to travel on a budget. So put on your money-saver cool shades and check out these ideas on how to have a quality spring break trip without breaking the bank.

Oh, and speaking of saving a little money, if you haven’t entered our Spring Break Contest to win 2 pairs of shades AND a $50 Target gift card, surf on over and get your entry in!

Groupons & Daily Deals

Check out daily deals on websites such as Groupon, Eversave, or Living Social. Groupon has “Groupon Getaways,” in which you can choose a city and view vacation deals. Although many of the getaways have great deals on hotels and lodging (over 50 percent off or more), the travel expense is still on you. Eversave and Living Social escapes are about the same, so it’s up to you to decide whether they are worth it.

While these daily deal sites offer significant savings, most of the destinations offered are fancy and expensive to begin with. If really nice accommodation is your priority, then go for a daily deal. However, if you want to save on accommodations and spend more on sightseeing and activities, then I suggest finding a budget hotel on your own.

If you decide to skip accommodation deals, Groupon and similar local websites can be very valuable once you arrive at your destination. You may be able to find deals on restaurants, museums, and other attractions.

Consider Public Transportation

If you’re going to a nearby city, a round-trip bus ticket could be an affordable way to get there. Even if you’re traveling farther, consider buses and subways to get around your destination. Public transportation is much cheaper and more efficient than renting a car or paying cab drivers. Maps can usually be found online and are easy to understand. Think about it — you’ll be saving money and the environment. Sounds like a win-win!

Couch Surfing

Have you ever heard of CouchSurfing? It’s the world’s largest travel community. The website allows you to search for people and places that are of interest to you. You might find someone who lets tourists stay at their house, or you might even consider allowing someone to stay at your place. CouchSurfing is a great way to meet new people, see places you normally wouldn’t see, and have a great time. The website is free to register, but do be sure to read the safety tips.

Split the cost

When you go somewhere, you usually don’t plan on spending a lot of time in your room anyway. Find some friends and split the cost. Sure, someone might have to sleep on a cot or on the floor, but there will be more money to spend on adventures and sightseeing. Be sure to bring along a travel blanket and a pillow if the sleeping arrangement isn’t already settled. Who cares about the sleep anyway? It’s a vacation!

Those are just a few ways to save a buck, so get savvy and plan yourself a splendid vacation!