Ah, spring break. The utopian red Solo cup and Daisy Duke paradise, with sun-kissed laughter and the smell of coconuts permeating the air. Sounds pretty good, right? That’s up until you get the bill for the food and drinks ordered, or see the price for the flights required to get there. What can one budget-limited college student do? Alas, I have the answer for you. Keep reading to find out how I managed to spring break on a limited budget in none other than Cancun.

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gif via GIPHY

1. Expedia
What you hear in TV commercials about “Cheap flights!” and “Book hotels NOW!” is in fact true. A nonstop flight directly from Boston to Cancun is around 4 hours and 40 minutes long. In order to remain under budget, we had to tweak that a bit. So ultimately, after lots of clicking and deleting and refreshing pages on Expedia, we came up with a super cheap flight from Boston to Georgia, then one from Georgia to Mexico City, then from Mexico City to Cancun. Easy, right? With 4 and 6-hour layovers it was bad, but worth it. We ultimately traveled from Boston to Cancun in 21 hours. But hey, saving money was the goal.

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2. Taco Factory
Once we arrived, unpacked for a bit and took a quick nap, we obviously were starving. Obviously, street restaurants in Cancun would mostly be much cheaper, so we explored. One of my friends who came along (it was a group of nine of us) told us about this place he had just gone to called Taco Factory. He said it was a dollar a taco, with free unlimited guacamole, pico de gallo, and chips. Ahem, college student heaven. I was a little scared at first to try these tacos, but man were they good. Delicious. Better than any taco I’ve ever had, no joke. We ate there for most every meal, and then some.

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3. Book one or two activities, then use Mother Nature
All the hype about booking activities such as dolphin kissing and cave diving isn’t worth it. It’s cool and sounds fun, but with such a limited budget and such a large group of kids who just want to chill out, they’re not really necessary. Chill on the beach for the majority of it, then book one or two activities if you must. We booked a snorkeling boat expedition, with free food and drinks included, for only $45! It was a 9-5 p.m. excursion, and we landed the deal by bargaining with the vendor. Make sure you always try to negotiate down the price, as for most activities sold on the streets, they’re not settled in writing. The boat trip price dropped from $75 a person to $45. Having a large group most definitely helped.

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gif via GIPHY

There you have it — traveling smart, cheap and easy. Here’s to planning your summer (or even next spring) trip!