Posted by: cgratton | February 9, 2009

Spring Break Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank

As the countdown to spring break is officially starting, I’m quickly coming to grips with the sobering reality that I may be stuck at home for a week on my couch with my mom and dad watching American Idol season 29, while my peers are off frolicking on the beaches of Mexico and Florida drinking daiquiris and soaking up a killer tan. A majorly depressing thought. But I have to give myself some credit; I am being financially sensible during these troubling economic times.

But just because our economy seems to be on its last breath does not mean I, or anyone else who is nodding their heads at my story, have to sacrifice possible enjoyment on that much-needed week of freedom. There are plenty of options that can help to scratch the traveling itch without breaking the bank (or furthering your fall into credit doom).

Road Trips. With gas prices at a momentary low, what better time is there to take the “always-talked-about-but -never-put-into-action” road trip?  Pack up the most gas-efficient car out of your friends, borrow mom and dad’s GPS (to avoid directional woes), take as much food from home as possible (to save on food costs) and hit the road!

Maybe think about investing in a radar dectector too?

Maybe think about investing in a radar dectector too?

And since this winter has been brutal, why not head south? I am planning to start in D.C. and pay President Obama a visit and then head to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.  Because it’s off season, cabin rentals are at their lowest, and many renters are giving free nights or huge discounts. Getting some fresh mountain air has never sounded better (to me and my wallet!).

I can smell the mountain air already

I can smell the mountain air already

Bright Lights, Big City. Currently I live in, Storrs, Conn., which isn’t exactly a town brimming with culture, so why not make up for it and take a long weekend to visit Boston, Philadelphia, D.C. or New York? Museums and major attractions usually have student discounts, too, so seeing the latest exhibits doesn’t cost a fortune. Hotel prices scaring you away? Youth hostels are another cost-cutting option, and they are usually located very centrally in the city to where all the action is. Discount hotel websites, like, are also a good bet for a good room at a cheap price. And because tourism is at a low due to the times, rooms are available and going at lower rates.

Theres always something to do in the Big Apple

There's always something to do in the Big Apple

Alternative Spring Breaks. These volunteer-based, week-long trips are a growing trend among college kids across the country. More fulfilling than a week of getting “wasted” on the beach, alternative spring breaks look great on resumes, too, and we could all use as much resume boosting as possible in light of the current job market.  And, working in a place like New Orleans or in Southern California will allow you to travel and visit a new city at the same time!

A good motto

A good motto

Camping. For those outdoorsy types, camping can provide a relaxing and inexpensive getaway. Although some camp grounds aren’t open yet for the season, cabin rental, as I mentioned earlier, is at the yearly low and most can sleep up to 12 people.  Why not gather up 20 of your friends and rent a cabin for a week?  At an average cost of less than $100 per person, getting away for a week or weekend in the woods is a tranquil and affordable alternative.

Well maybe you wont get views like this on the East Coast...

Well maybe you won't get views like this on the East Coast...

Obviously, traveling doesn’t have to be forfeited during financially tough times.  In fact, now is the prime times to get the best deals.  Just do some searching and you’re sure to find a perfect and cheap Spring Break alternative, so when your friends come back you can have a good story, too!

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