Spring break means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Some see it as a mid-semester study seminar, while others view it as an opportunity for a week-long vacation. If you’re unsure about what to do with your extra week of free time, then weigh out the advantages and disadvantages of both.
Vacationing on spring break
No matter how cliche it sounds, spring break during college is absolutely legendary. I’ll never forget holding back my hungover best friend’s hair in a Las Vegas casino and seeing a marijuana dispensary for the first time in Denver. Although I’ll carry these memories with me forever, I'd probably never do it again.
Vacationing is expensive. Eating out for every meal, paying for mountain and beachside excursions, never-ending bar tabs – it all adds up.
College students are notoriously broke, and a mid-semester vacay can be hard to pull off when staring down thousands of dollars in tuition fees. According to a study by the US Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, students working full time at minimum wage would only make enough money to cover 57% of the average public four-year college tuition fees.
Budgeting is likely one of the only ways that college students can afford a luxurious spring break vacation. On its website, KU Student Money Management Services suggests writing down a vacation budget to keep track of your spending. Plan out all of the additional costs of traveling, and save a little bit of extra cash for emergencies.
For Rebecca Reutzel, a University of Kansas senior from Topeka, a spring break vacation is a rare opportunity. Her sister offered to pay for her plane ticket to North Carolina during this semester’s break, and Reutzel says she wouldn’t have been able to afford to travel if she had to pay for it on her own.
Visiting family is a common theme among student spring breakers, which is most likely due to the lack of food and lodging expenses. “I’m only going for half of spring break,” Reutzel says. “If I came back later in the week the price would have jumped by $100.”
Staycationing on spring break
For students who are struggling to make ends meet, spring break offers an opportunity to earn some extra money at work, catch up on their studies or use this extra time to take care of their mental and physical health.
Since Reutzel is only traveling for half of the week, she plans to spend the rest of the week studying for her classes and picking up extra shifts at work. “If I’m not doing anything, why not work?” Reutzel says. “I mean, we all need to make money. Also, I’ve got a midterm the Monday after spring break, so I need to focus on that.”
Many Americans have taken staycations, according to data from YouGov Omnibus. When polled about their vacation habits, more than half of the participants (53% of 10,354 Americans), said they have stayed in their hometowns or opted for a staycation.
Duke Wheeler, a University senior from Lenexa, plans to utilize the week to catch up on sleep and beef up his savings account. “Being a little bit older, I kind of realize how valuable this extra time is,” Wheeler says. “I want to make sure that I take a break from school, but at the same time I want to work. So, we’ll see.”
If you’re not heading out of town, use the break as an opportunity to focus on that never-ending to-do list that has been building up all semester. Study for your midterms, try out a new face mask or wash your sheets. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to make the most of your time off.
Although a spring break vacation isn’t for everyone, if you’re willing to spend the money then you’ll undoubtedly make some unforgettable memories. Looking back on my previous excursions, I wish I hadn’t gambled away that $100 my dad gave me for emergency expenses. But, the past is the past.
This year, I’ll definitely be spending my mid-semester break working to build up my savings account and carving out some extra time for me.
Even if you’re not spending spring break at your dream destination, CHALK has plenty of recommendations for cheap and exciting things to do in and around Lawrence during the break.