Sprink break travel advice?
January 22, 2004 1:53 PM   Subscribe

Spring break, early-summer travel advice? Specifically for an on-the-budget student (around or less than $1000). (more inside)

A few of my friends and I would love to go somewhere around mid-May. No one wants to do a hard-partying Cancun-like adventure, and places like Europe are really infeasible for a short one-week vacation. I hope by planning this early, we can figure out how much to work and how much to save. Of course we'd love to go somewhere to shop, but Manhattan really isn't a place to go on a budget. Since we're all from the midwest, really anywhere but here would be nice -- what would be most college friendly? The northeast, Canada, possibly even a cheap Carribean trip? Surely some MeFites have found a place they like to get away from it, that doesn't involve dropping $2000.
posted by geoff. to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total)
Ever been to DC?
posted by mhaw at 2:13 PM on January 22, 2004

If you've got access to a reliable automobile, take a road trip to the National Parks out west - they really start filling up starting Memorial day, but before that weekend, it's quite nice. I road-tripped out to Yosemite a couple years ago about that time of year, and the crowds didn't exist, the waterfalls were crazy full, and it was warm enough that I didn't have to worry about freezing my @$$ off.
posted by notsnot at 2:28 PM on January 22, 2004

Go to Expedia or one of the other travel sites. Look for package deals. The prices are much lower than buying flights & hotels seperately.
posted by Argyle at 2:48 PM on January 22, 2004

I've heard that extremely cheap trips to Cuba can be had if you fly from Canada (save on the exchange rate!) or Bermuda. Questionably legal, but que fun!
posted by bonheur at 2:53 PM on January 22, 2004

I'm a big fan of Montreal--fun and very cheap (and a little like Europe too)--with great culture and nightlife...otherwise Vegas is always cheap, or, if you stay out of town, New Orleans is doable and very fun.
posted by amberglow at 2:54 PM on January 22, 2004

A couple years ago I found myself with a spring break and very little money so my girlfriend and I searched for the cheapest air tickets possible and went from there. We ended up going to Lagos in Portugal for a week. It was super awesome and it cost us each about $600 including everything. We wanted to go to some place cheap with a carrib coast like Belize or Honduras, but the plane ticket issue killed it. We got our tix to Lisbon for under $300 (that might have just been luck, I don't know). The place we stayed was I think $60 for the whole week. The Algarve, and Portugal in general, rules. What up, MiguelCardoso? I went there only because it was cheap but now I think about moving there and I desperately want to go back. A week is short, but I would have rather had 1 than 0 weeks on the Algarve.

Anyhow, another thing that would be kind of crazy and time-intense would be to buy two of those super cheap tix that are either NYC< ->Cali or Florida< ->NYC I think (I think on American) and then you get a free ticket to anywhere in the world. You can get the tickets for like $200. So figure $400 and you can go wherever you want...like...Bali? My guess is there is someplace awesome and where your remaining $600 would go a long way. I'm was toying with this idea myself because I already needed to go to CA, but ultimately I bagged on it.

Don't go to Montreal. I went there once under similar circumstances and I flipped over my car. As everyone at metafilter knows, correlation=causation, so if you go and your car flips, don't say I didn't warn you.
posted by jeb at 3:31 PM on January 22, 2004

I second national parks out west. It's cheap as dirt, and loads of fun, and amazing stuff out there.

I dunno where you mean by "midwest," but will assume Columbus, Ohio for porpoises of argument.

You could leave Columbus and spend a really shitty day driving and driving and driving some more, switching drivers as needed through the night, and be in Big Bend National Park the next day. Spend a couple days there, wander up through Guadalupe Mountains and Carlsbad Caverns, and travel up through New Mexico and Colorado in the Rockies, seeing stuff on the way, hang a right at Denver and spend another really shitty day driving back.

You could do this absolutely cheap as dirt if you wanted. Spend nights camping, and you're looking at maaaybe $15/night for the lot of you. Do your own cooking in the campground, eat cheap road food for lunches, and you'll have plenty o' money for beer. But there's a fabulous Mexican restaurant in Las Cruces, NM called La Posta de Mesilla, that's worth a trip. It's no more expensive than your standard Mexican place, and gooooooooooooooood.

Some friends and I did a similar thing in the early 90s for about 3 weeks -- the per-person total was about $1000, including the rental of a 15-person van.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:36 PM on January 22, 2004

Check out cruises. There are lots during mid-May that are around $500/person for 7 days. You can also find coupons for some cruiselines for $50-$100 off in Entertainment books, etc, that knock it down even more (and that is taken off the cheap rate quoted by Expedia, etc.. I've done it before). If you sleep 3 to a room it gets even cheaper per person, since each 3rd person's ticket is only $199 or so. Depending on where you live, airfare could make this a little pricier, but it is still a pretty reasonable vacation considering it includes food and lodging. Very fun, too! I know some people hate cruises, but I think they can be really relaxing and are a great way to see a bunch of different places in a short amount of time.
posted by gatorae at 3:42 PM on January 22, 2004

I forgot to add that we all had a wunnerful time out there. Big Bend is really surprising -- there's a giant sandpile in a river canyon that you can play on, and there was one day when we hiked up a mountain and had something like 200-mile visibility, and Carlsbad Caverns are hugely impressive (and the bat flight at dusk is too), and the Rockies... well, they're big and rocky.

Places like Yosemite, you'd be looking at 2 days of driving -- continuous driving, that is, with only meal and gas breaks. You could also get to places like Yellowstone or the Tetons, but they could still be cold-ish even in early May (I got snowed on in Yellowstone in June).
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:42 PM on January 22, 2004

Toronto, New Orleans, DC, Chicago if that isn't too close to home, Minneapolis (ditto), Memphis, Nashville, the Mississippi Delta for blues and such. I've also heard good things about Montreal and Quebec but haven't been there myself.
posted by Vidiot at 7:34 PM on January 22, 2004

The biggest problem is that some aren't 21, which limits a lot of city fun. I mean during the day it's no big deal, but after about 9PM in most cities, there's nothing to do (unless you know where to go, which you won't in a foreign city).

I'm definitely looking into the feasibility of seeing some of the parks out West, and the Mississippi delta intrigues me too.

I'd really like to do something exotic like explore the rainforest, but the simple cost of getting there is way out of budget. Looks like there's enough natural wonders right here. I'll post more info in this thread when I find out the plan, and the costs, and such when it gets done.
posted by geoff. at 9:23 PM on January 22, 2004

I'm definitely looking into the feasibility of seeing some of the parks out West

National Geographic has a good guidebook of all of the national parks. However, because it covers all of them, it's necessarily brief on each one. But you can use it to narrow down the list you might want to hit. If you later want to look at things to do in a given park, I recommend looking for a set of books put out by the Sierra Club that are all The Sierra Club Guide To The National Parks Of *FOO*, but I think they may be out of print -- but might be in your university library. If it's not being legally restrained that week, the NPS has a fairly comprehensive set of web pages for each park.

It also neatly solves the under-21 problem, since you'll be in a national park either tired and sleepy from hiking around or sitting around the campfire drinkin' your own beer.

And if you haven't been before, the desert southwest and the rockies can be pretty exotic. If you edge into Arizona, the land will turn colors you Would. Not. Believe.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:01 PM on January 22, 2004

Consider heading out to Southern UT and Northern NV, to see the amazing national parks and rock formations. The weather should be GREAT (i.e. high 60's/low 70's), and it is quite an experience - cheap too. I highly recommend the Valley of Fire, NV.
posted by blindcarboncopy at 10:48 AM on January 23, 2004

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