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Spring Break on a student budget

Submitted by Jamila Brown on March 12, 2011 – 2:07 amNo Comment

Spring Break is almost here! There is finally a chance to rent an amazing suite in a tropical destination relieving yourself from the stresses of professors and schizophrenic weather. More than just a break from classes, this week of unwinding is a time for students to get out and have some fun. But let’s face it, many of us are just a bunch of broke college kids. Luckily there is a way to balance a student budget with a killer spring break.

“Planning ahead is the best way to save money,” travel agent Angela Rowe said. “The closer you get to the travel date, the higher the prices become.” So with this advice in mind, it’s important to start booking ASAP.

Chester Collins, freshman dance major, enjoys some time in the pool. Photo by Jamila Brown.

For those looking to get far away, a little driving goes a long way. Allegiant Air, which flies out of Bentonville, has direct flights to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando and Phoenix with some flights as low as $53.99 one way. AirTran, leaving from Memphis, offers space available with student rates for only $69 one way to various locations around the country; and, of course there is the relatively cost friendly Southwest Airlines flying out of Little Rock.

If these options do not tickle your fancy, a greater bit of driving goes a long way as well. Florida’s beaches are all within a day’s drive. Alabama’s golden shores are even closer, and by going with a group you can split not only the cost of gas, but also the cost of a room.

Hotels seem the obvious option, but there are plenty of alternatives to inflated spring break room prices. Hostels start at comparatively low prices, and many are dedicated to younger people offering breakfast, pub-crawls, and deals around the area. Does the movie “Hostel” have you scared? Have no fear, renting a furnished apartment for a week can also prove more cost efficient than a nightly hotel rate.

But maybe you aren’t looking for the stereotypical MTV beach retreat full of drunken, scantily clad coeds. Lake houses and campsites are a less adrenaline or alcohol-fueled party scene to enjoy your vacation. By going to www.arkansas.com, you can find a wealth of information on the different parks, lakes and rivers in the state. A three night stay in a lodge at Lake Hamilton can cost as little as $150, and campground rentals are as low as $11.

If you aren’t into an overnight trip, or your job won’t allow it, there are plenty of day trip activities offered in the region to ensure you don’t come back from spring break having done nothing. Oaklawn racing track sells seats for only $2.50 on the weekdays and $4.50 on weekends. Plus you only have to be 18 to bet on the horse races. Hot Springs also has spas, gardens and a vibrant restaurant scene. Memphis has its fair share of attractions as well, including Graceland, Beale Street and a nationally acclaimed zoo.

Or, why not be a tourist in your own city? Central High School, the Arkansas Arts Center as well as a plethora of other museums are all things locals can take advantage of. Don’t forget that you can also catch a ride on one of the horse drawn carriages in the River Market, or spend the day in one of the city’s parks.

Of course there is the alternative spring break route. Instead of spending thousands of dollars flying to a third world country, take advantage of the dozens of organizations in Little Rock who would appreciate your time. These volunteer experiences not only beef up your résumé, but because of how varied they are you can truly get the satisfaction of doing something to help a cause you believe in.

Despite the average college student’s tight budget there are plenty of ways to have a memorable time away from school. If worse comes to worst, you can always pick up a kiddie pool and some smoothie mix from Target for a grand total of $13.81. Happy Spring Break, Trojans!

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