Spring break goes thrifty

Spring break is rapidly approaching. Are you ready to get crunk?

As the annual weeklong break from school gets closer, students across the country are searching for the top vacation venues. College students will inevitably head to popular sites, like Florida or Mexico, in a widespread alcohol-induced frenzy. However, the typical spring break may be dying out, or at least suffering in a recession.

While traditional hotspots — anywhere with a beach — will by no means become ghost towns, the high costs of travel are forcing many people to seek alternatives.

According to Travelocity, in comparison to last year’s spring break, airfare is up nine percent. The average domestic roundtrip flight is now $351.

Travelocity also reported a three percent decrease in average hotel costs, but despite the silver lining, transportation costs have altered the usual spring break trends.

Although MTV Spring Break will take place in Panama Beach (very original), more people are skipping the reality show beach scene for a more sober destination this year. A Student Travel Agency survey found that 34 percent of spring break travelers are going to Europe this year, up from 22 percent last year.

68 percent of the participants in the survey reported that they planned on spending less than $599 this year. In 2009, STA reported an average cost of $1,100.

The change marks a drop in people’s willingness to splurge for vacations. Cheap trips are more popular, and the few people who are willing to break bank are headed to more historical, if not classier, getaways.

The survey reflects broad changes. As Jay-Z trades in his bling (or at least some of it) for flannel shirts and big glasses, college party seekers are getting thriftier.

Does this mean hair gel and fake tans will cease to exist? Don’t get your hopes up. But it does mean the culture of vacations is changing. The fewer people fly to the beach, the more people will seek other options.

Rising airfare prices may have forced some travelers into the water. Cruise Market Watch estimated the total worldwide market at $26.8 billion in 2010, a 7.4 percent increase from last year.

Camping is even more affordable, especially with multiple campsites located in Tonto National Forest, directly northeast of Tempe. But for those students who do not enjoy feigning homelessness, there are some slightly more desperate options.

Volunteering is a productive way to spend a week, and although it may not be as fun as some other activities, it’s completely free. There are also day trip possibilities in the Valley, from the Arizona Hall of Flame Museum in Phoenix to “A” Mountain in Tempe.

Whatever alternatives students choose, fewer of them will be headed to Florida, Mexico or any location described in a Beach Boys song. Travelers are looking to save money this year and the beaches will probably not be very crowded, so it’s time to get creative.

Jack is going to Florida. Yeah, that’s right. Contact him at jlfitzpa@asu.edu

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