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9 Ideas for Spring Break

This article was written by in Travel. 14 comments.


My girlfriend is a teacher who never takes days for vacation, so we schedule our time away from our regular lives over the summer or during one of several of the breaks in her academic calendar. I do my best to design my schedule around hers; when I worked for a corporation, I requested vacation days to coincide with her breaks, and now that my schedule is more flexible, I don’t have to worry about being granted the days I ask for.

Today’s snow, a continuation of a winter that has seen snow on the ground continuously since December, has me thinking about spring vacation. Typically, we spend a week during the spring with my family in California. Since they moved to the west coast, I’ve generally been able to visit only twice a year, and this week is a good opportunity.

If you’re looking for spring break ideas, and whether you are a student, a family, a couple, or an individual, here are eight that might spark your interest and perhaps save a little money.

1. Rent a vacation house. If you’re going away for more than a few days and need more space than one room, it can be more economical to rent a house rather than to stay in a hotel. Browse HomeAway for a thorough selection of vacation homes throughout the world for rent. In some cases, staying for a week — a luxury you might have over spring break — can help you save even more money.

2. Go camping. If you stick to government-owned camping sites, there’s a good chance you’ll be able find deals you wouldn’t necessarily find at private-owned sites. You can visit Recreation.gov to start planning a low-cost camping trip. The website isn’t perfect, but you can browse for campsites with certain amenities and use this as a starting point for researching your vacation.

3. Travel as a student. If you’re a full-time student, part-time student, or part of the faculty or staff at a learning institution, you may qualify for better fares. Student Universe is a fare search engine like Kayak that offers student rates. A quick check shows the site offers the same fare I paid for a non-student fare for my flight to California, so it’s a good idea to double check any rates that you find. I also realized that I still have my .edu email address from my graduate school, so I could theoretically still qualify for student rates. Youth rates for non-students aged 18 to 25 are available as well.

4. Take a road trip. One of these days, I’d like to take the Route 66 drive from Chicago to Los Angeles. It may be a cliche and tourist-oriented, but I believe this is a good representative of what traveling might have been like before the advent of the interstate highway system. The Mother Road is a website dedicated to this route, and it has turn-by-turn directions for travelers who want to avoid newer road improvements like bypasses, opting for as authentic a drive as possible.

Of course, not all road trips need to be as focused as this; if you have the time, as might be the case for spring vacation, replacing a flight with an interesting drive could lead to new adventures. When I was younger, the free TripTiks offered by AAA to its members was helpful, but today you can have some of those same features using Google Maps.

5. Take a cruise. Spending your vacation on a cruise ship stopping in several ports can be a good way to experience a wide range of activities and a variety of locales in a short period of time. One of my former co-workers is a cruise aficionada, and every year she’d have new stories to share. I’m looking forward to traveling on a Mediterranean cruise at some point in the future, making quick excursions in Greece, Italy, Spain, and Turkey.

6. Day trips in your local city. Although the travel bug often leads people outside of the United States, there’s often a lot to do and see close by. I leave not far from New York City, but if I look in the right places, I can find activities as varied as I could find anywhere in the world. This is the benefit of having such a culturally diverse, large city nearby. In major cities, it’s easy to spend a week-long vacation with something new every day.

7. Go on a photography safari. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to have a great experience with your camera. If you take an organized photography tour, your vacation could be fairly expensive, but access to superb outdoor photographers can change the way you think about the art and craft. To save money, organize your own photography safari by taking any vacation with the sole purpose of coming back with amazing images.

8. Tour vineyards and wineries. Most wine tours are a few hours long, so this isn’t an activity can take over your entire vacation. This isn’t an activity geared towards students or families, obviously. It’s better suited towards couples who are interested in what could be a romantic opportunity. Many wine tours are educational, as well.

9. Participate in a volunteering group. More for students who are looking for a different type of vacation, whether to enhance their résumé or to enhance their set of life experiences, joining an organized group volunteering event can affect life-long values and help introduce you to like-minded individuals. The United Way markets this opportunity as an “alternative spring break,” with projects such as helping underachieving children in Newark, New Jersey and learning how to plan fundraising events in Boston, Massachusetts.

What are your suggestions for spring break?

Photo: rayced

Published or updated February 21, 2011. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Evan

You don’t even need to set up a “wine tour” just going to a heavy populated vineyard area is a fantastic time! The Wife and I go out to the east end of long island at least once or twice a year and visit a few of the wineries on our own…no tour needed

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,455 (Platinum)

I like the vineyards out on Long Island’s North Fork — I’ve been to a few, but not in a while. I’ll probably head out there this spring or summer.

With a wine tour, it’s typical for a bus to take you around from vineyard to vineyard, so you don’t have to worry so much about staying completely in a condition to drive — plus tour guides can impart interesting facts about the area and you can meet interesting people if you join a public tour.

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avatar Rick

One Spring Break road trip you can do is a landmark tour. That is, you pick out a few landmarks in your state, and/or neighboring states and visit each one during the week. It could be historic sites, or state or national monuments/parks etc. In 2008 and 2010 I went with some of my sons to visit temples, one trip during Spring break and the other in October. Here are the links to give you some idea of what I mean:

link, link

It helps to a bit of planning and don’t mind a lot of driving.

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avatar skylog ♦368 (Nickel)

a great set of ideas! i am partial to the “rent a vacation house” idea. while i was younger and growing up, my family would always take me to the outer banks of north carolina where we would rent a house. it was always a great experience and from what i understand, quite a deal as well. as i got older, i did the same (different locations) with several of my friends at least once a summer. i would not trade any of those times for anything.

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avatar Amber, Blonde and Balanced

I like the day trips in your city idea. There are usually so many fun things to do in your city that you never even think to do when you’re a long-time resident! I know, for me, there are tons of things in Kansas City that I’ve never seen and I’ve lived here my whole life. No need to get away when there are fun things to do within a couple minutes from your doorstep.

I think I would add visiting a nearby city and/or college town. Lawrence, KS (where KU is located) is about 30 minutes to an hour from KC (depending on where you live in the city). My fiance and I are actually spending this upcoming weekend in Lawrence. We had some Marriott points to use up and we wanted to get away from all the stress of wedding planning. We plan to use the rec center on campus, check out the game at a local bar, and just walk around downtown. Should prove to be a inexpensivet, yet fun, time! Also, many college kids will be away on spring break, so that could be the perfect time to visit a college town! ;)

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avatar Cejay ♦1,521 (Half-Dollar)

I love the cruise idea/ We went on one cruise a few years ago and at that time spared no expense. But my next cruise will be a little less spendy on the room and a little more extravagant on the experience itself.

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avatar gotr31 ♦224 (Cent)

I usually try to avoid travelling during peak times like spring break. But I am itching to go somewhere, preferrably where there is no snow! Thanks for the ideas!

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avatar skylog ♦368 (Nickel)

i hear you. where i am located, we just had three days of 60′s which managed to melt ALL the snow we had on the ground, which amazed me. of course, last nite we had 3 inches or so with a fair amount of ice as well. so far tonite, we have about 2 more inches with another 4 or so expected by morning. a lot better than some the past two days, but going from 66 on friday to 15 now is a little much.

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avatar SteveDH

We’ve often enjoyed “Trips to a city” over the years. We’ve been able to spend 5 to 9 days in Boston, Chicago, Baltimore, Charleston, St Augustine, San Francisco, Nashville, and Charlotte. But the best place of all of was Washington DC – we’ve been there three times – It’s an awesome place to visit. Looking back we’ve enjoyed them all and there have been a lot of “special” highlights. For example: Attending the Memorial Day Concert at the Pops in Boston and seeing the Broadway show “Chicago” in Chicago!

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avatar HedgeHoncho

I can’t wait to use HomeAway in the near future. Renting a large home for family and friends on the beach in the summer sounds absolutely amazing.

Now, to scratch up the cash to be able to afford it is my next order of business. I’ll let you know if I end up using HomeAway and my experience with it.

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avatar eric ♦1,549 (Half-Dollar)

Good tips. Any tips that are low in cost and high in entertainment value are always welcome :)

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avatar shellye ♦107 (Cent)

I’ve done the Route 66 drive from Oklahoma City to Santa Monica. The most interesting parts of it are the diners, drive-ins and dives (I think that’s another TV show entirely, LOL) along the way. Great food, interesting photo ops and very interesting people. Not sure if I could do Chicago to Santa Monica, but you’re young – go for it!

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avatar rewards ♦31 (Newbie)

curl up with the wife in front of a redbox groupon

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avatar faithfueledbennetts ♦264 (Nickel)

These are some great ideas. Thanks for thinking outside of the box for us! I am looking for a vacation home in the Keys in October and am going to try the link you posted for some good deals. As for Spring Break this year, I will be spending it in the garden.

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