After record-setting snowstorms, several major weather-related pile-ups on highways across the country, trees coated in ice, and even some bouts of “thunder-snow,” you’re probably more than ready for a warming trend. The calendar says it’s officially spring, but, well, there’s more snow in the forecast for many parts of the country, so winter is going to be slow to release its frosty grip.
You’re probably ready for a break … Imagine sitting at the edge of the ocean in one of those low-to-the-ground lounge chairs – the ones where you can reach down and trail your fingertips through the sun-warmed, salty water. You wiggle your toes down into the sand … feeling the grit from little bits of shell between your toes. A wave rolls up and wraps water around your ankles, brushing past your skin as it slowly recedes. You tip your head back and feel the warm sun on your face. In the distance, the cries of some seagulls mix with the hypnotizing crash of the surf. A slight ocean breeze carries with it that distinct aroma of sun, sea, and sand … mixed with a hint of coconut and exotic, tropical blooms. Ahh, that's better.
If you want to actually be on a beach rather than just imagine it – but you don't have much money for a spring break vacation– it's still possible! Here's how to do spring break on a budget:
First, do some research. There are great deals out there if you know where to look. Check travel booking sites, such as Expedia, Orbitz, and Travelocity, for reduced hotel and flight rates. If your time is flexible and you are open to travel suggestions, Groupon.com's Groupon Getaways may have a travel deal that works for you.
If you are on a very limited budget, don't overlook beachfront state parks. Many – such as Myrtle Beach State Park, Edisto Beach State Park, and St. Joseph Peninsula State Park – have campgrounds on the beach. If you want to head down to the Florida Keys, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo is amazing – be sure to go snorkeling, scuba-diving, or take a glass-bottom boat tour to see the natural beauty of the coral reefs – and the amazing 30-foot, underwater statue "Christ in the Abyss."
Consider renting a privately-owned vacation house or condo through sites such as vrbo.com – these are often less expensive than a hotel or resort. If you rent a house or condo, look for one within walking distance to the beach but not directly on the beach – it will be less expensive. If you can get some friends or family members to go with you, split the cost of the rental between you. Then, utilize the kitchen to do your own cooking and you'll save big on food costs.
Where you travel matters – especially during spring break – so avoid the "hotspot" beaches and instead choose less popular beach towns. Biloxi, Mississippi has beautiful beaches, beautiful historic sites, and great travel deals. Just be careful if you hit the casinos that you don't burn through all the money you saved. Cocoa Beach, Florida is on the Central Florida east coast and is much more affordable than other Florida spring break beaches. St. George Island is a terrific island in the Gulf of Mexico, just off the Florida Panhandle. You won't find many college spring-breakers in this pristine, tropical paradise – but there's plenty to do, from white-sand beaches to shopping to nightlife. St. George Island is also very pet-friendly with one of the few beaches that allows pets, many pet-friendly rentals, and a terrific state park.
Instead of staying in your apartment and just dreaming about the sun and sand, get going! A warm, relaxing spring break is affordable with a little planning. Don't forget the sunscreen!