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The Best Spring Break Trips For Every Budget

Any break longer than a weekend is pure gold to college students. On any given day, my roommates and I probably know exactly how many hours until homework and tests take a vacation. But there’s something about spring break that carries so many expectations for a good time, yet we never seem to have enough prep time or money to make it what we want. That’s where HC comes in. Armed with options for every budget and money-saving tips and tricks, you’ll be able to create your perfect plans without all that last-minute stress. Best of all, you’ll be able to save up for each of these awesome trips in just a couple of months. Read on to start planning.

Budget: $0 to $200

Lend a Hand: Instead of giving your money to airlines and hotels, try giving your time to a volunteer organization for a week. VolunteerMatch is a great place to start. Just type in your zip code and any keywords for the type of work you’re looking for, and the site gives you a list of opportunities. If you have a specific organization in mind, call at least a month before break to talk about any openings for volunteers. Habitat for Humanity has local branches all across the country, and you don’t have to be a savvy builder to get involved. Projects range from making phone calls to painting, and there’s absolutely no required experience. Whether it’s beach cleanup or animal care, you’ll head back to school with some good karma and a story to share. Don’t

Spend, Find a Friend: Sometimes finding the perfect vacation doesn’t take much more effort than calling up a friend. College is great for meeting people who live anywhere from an hour away from your hometown to the other side of the country—or even the world. Kristie Demers, HC Campus Correspondent for North Carolina State University, saved some serious money by spending her break at a friend’s beach house. She brought $75 on the trip, spent about $20 on gas, $20 on food, $20 on alcohol, and $5 on other little trinkets and had some leftover in the end. “It was the best spring break so far because we had to rough it out,” she says. “We enjoyed each other without paying for entertainment like cruises or covers for clubs.” Looking to go a bit farther but still sticking to a budget? Megabus is a great source for cheap travel between almost 50 cities in the US and Canada, and occasionally offers $1 rates. Spend a few days exploring a new city with a friend who already lives there and you won’t have to worry about high travel costs OR hotel rates.
Budget: $200 to $400

Pick a Price, Pick a City: Choosing a vacation spot near a college town is a great way to save a bit of cash, since college kids are always after a good deal and local businesses know it. Meagan Aguayo, a senior at the University of Tampa and an HC design associate, spent her last spring break in Washington, D.C. The key here is getting a group together to make the most of your budget. Meagan and three friends started researching costs and locations early, so they knew how much to save. In the end, they all had $250 enough for a week at an upscale hotel. Meagan recommends searching Priceline for hotels within your exact budget. For tours and museum visits, make sure to ask about any student discounts so you don’t miss out on any extra deals. You’ll save even more by learning to master any city’s public transportation.

A Town a Day: For those of you who don’t want to spend all of spring break away from home, but still need something to spice up that school-less week, try searching for hidden gems nearby. Pick a handful of towns that you’ve always been curious about, print out directions to a main street, grab some friends, and go. Split gas money and keep your destinations within an hour to an hour and a half so you don’t spend the whole day traveling. Since you won’t be laying out any money on hotels, splurge on some unique food finds or treasures from local shops. Get to know the locals and ask for sightseeing recommendations. Make sure to take tons of pictures!

Budget: $400 to $600

Hit the Seas: Cruise lines are always offering discounts, so they’re a great way to get away for a few days when you’re on a budget. Cruise Spring Break let’s you choose your cruise line, month of travel, destination, and how many nights you want to stay. I found a Carnival Cruise to the Bahamas that leaves from Miami and lasts three nights. It costs between about $250 and about $300 for an interior or ocean view room, respectively. Grab that passport, find a cheap flight, and you’re ready to go. Just remember to book as early as possible to avoid the rush of other spring-breakers.

Take a Modified Road Trip: While spring break isn’t exactly long enough to travel across the country, there are plenty of modified routes that fit perfectly within your time restrictions. Instead of starting back at home for each adventure, those willing to spend a bit more can venture farther (provided you do your homework on price-appropriate accommodations). Road Trip USA has detailed destinations across the country. Pick a path, then click on each state on the pre-set itinerary for a list of places worth visiting. If you’re tight on time or money, it’s easy to customize the amount of attractions or the length of your trip. Plan out stopping points ahead of time to make sure you stay within budget, but still have a place to stay for the night.

Budget: $600 and up

For the 21+ Crowd: If you can afford to splurge a bit, Las Vegas or Atlantic City make for great high-energy vacations. Nicer hotels range from about $150 to $200 per night during the week, so find a few friends and split the price so there’s more money left over for drinks and some time at the slot machines. Plus, visiting any of the over-the-top themed hotels and casinos provides some great (and free) sightseeing. Check out the official sites of Vegas and Atlantic City to start planning.

Follow the Warm Weather: STA Travel specializes in booking flights, hotels, and hostels for students. They have a special spring break option that includes Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean, Florida, and New Orleans. Prices vary, but a 6 day, 5 night trip to London costs between $1200 and $1500 and includes round trip airfare, lodging, breakfast, one dinner, and a bus tour.

Need to Start Saving?

Try These Tips:

  • Think about how you spend on a weekly basis. Sacrificing that $4 coffee each day for two months can save $240.
  • For those necessary purchases, pay in cash. Not only will you be more aware of what you’re spending, but you can also collect the change and cash it in right before break.
  • Have an on-campus job? Stash away $10 to $20 a week.
  • Bag up any unwanted clothes, shoes, bags, and accessories and head to a local consignment shop. While you won’t get anywhere near what you originally paid, every little bit helps.
  • The same thing goes for any textbooks you never sold back. Head to your campus bookstore or take to buyback sites online. Bookbyte and Swap.com are great places to start.
  • Check out even more awesome money-saving tips from HC writers here.

Photo sources: http://www.studentstuff.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/broken-piggy-bank… http://blog.usa.gov/roller/govgab/resource/images/volunteer.jpg http://www.thedistrict.com/images/tourdeals.jpg http://www.gamingangels.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/saving-money.jpg 


Alyssa Grossman is a Jersey girl who sacrificed warmer winters to study Magazine Journalism at Syracuse University. When she isn’t writing, you can probably find her tap dancing, baking, or laughing uncontrollably with friends. She loves going on spontaneous road trips, then coming back and recording every detail in her journal. She’s also obsessed with pumpkin spice lattes and sushi, though not together. Last summer, she interned at M Magazine and as a result, is now a teen pop culture whiz. She is Features Editor at Zipped Magazine, Syracuse University’s fashion publication, and is a contributing writer for the online magazine, bizme.biz. After graduation, she plans to follow her love of Magazine Journalism wherever it takes her. Because, frankly, she couldn’t see herself doing anything else.
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