Soak up the sun – Choose the spring break that’s right for you

Winter break may have just ended, but it’s never too early – and soon, it may even be too late – to book your ultimate spring break vacation.

Every year, thousands of college students are given one week (usually in late February or March) to leave behind a world of nagging professors, projects, papers and exams and escape to paradise.

But since most of us are on a tight budget, planning is key. Read on for some tips about how to land your dream destination for the spring break of a lifetime, without breaking the bank.

Plan Ahead

If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to discuss going away with your friends. Decide how many people will definitely be taking part in your vacation and settle on a budget that you all can agree on.

If half of the group has their hearts set on a five-star spring break and the other half can only afford the Budget Inn, you may want to consider splitting up. But don’t worry – as long as you are spending the break with some of your closest friends, you’re sure to have a great time.

Choose Your Destination

According to the Travel Channel’s official Web site, this year’s top 10 spring break spots are: Panama City, Fla.; Cancun, Mexico; South Padre Island, Texas; Lake Havasu, Ariz.; Jamaica; Mazatlan, Mexico; Daytona Beach, Fla.; Key West, Fla.; Rosarito Beach, Mexico and the Bahamas.

Although not featured on this list, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas, both in Mexico, are also becoming known as hot spring break hangouts thanks to their beautiful beaches and abundance of nightlife.

The Travel Channel’s list proves that it isn’t necessary to leave the country for a memorable spring break experience. However, those who have not yet turned 21 are better off choosing an international location if they hope to indulge in any sort of alcoholic fun.

Cami D’Innocenzio, junior secondary education/English major, recently booked a trip to Punta Cana with three of her friends.

“I chose Punta Cana because it seemed to be one of the most popular places this year,” she said. “It had the best prices for the most included.”

D’Innocenzio will be paying $933 for four days at an all-inclusive resort, including airfare.

Shop Around

The earlier you book your trip, the better chance you will have of scoring a great deal. As the months of February and March near, airfares to popular locations will skyrocket. Still, don’t rush – it’s important that you shop around to make sure that you are receiving the most you can for your hard-earned money.

There are plenty of resources on the Internet to guide you in your trip planning, and many, like and, cater specifically to college students on a budget. offers a payment plan for all trips, as well as bonuses like free meals and free drinks for booking far enough in advance.

There are many other reputable travel sites known for their discount pricing, so be sure to also browse and before settling on a trip. Of course, a trip to a travel agent can also be a helpful way to gather tips and important information.

D’Innocenzio ultimately booked her trip through a travel agency, but she did plenty of research beforehand.

“We looked on Expedia, Orbitz, Springbreaktravel, Travelocity and two travel agents before we chose a specific agent and trip,” she said.

Pack Accordingly

If you are traveling to Mexico or another international location, you will need to bring along proof of your American citizenship in the form of a passport or original birth certificate with valid photo ID.

In addition, make sure to bring enough spending money for clubbing, bars, shopping, water sports and other activities.

It’s a good idea to leave behind any valuables that are not necessities. And most importantly, don’t forget your bathing suit and sunscreen!

Have Fun!

Spring break is a great chance to escape the stresses of college life, bond with your friends and create memories that will last a lifetime.

“I’ve never been to the Caribbean,” D’Innocenzio said. “This will be my last chance to go away with my friends during college because I will be student teaching next spring semester.”

So take advantage of this week, because it will be over far too soon. Before you know it, the palm trees and beaches will be a mere memory as you head back into the classroom – and for seniors, into the real world.