How to spend spring break on a budget

Taylor Corley, Campus Carrier arts & living editor

Spring break – the only reason most students have any motivation to make it through the first half of second semester. After a long, brutal, cold and rainy winter (if you call one random day of snow sprinkled amongst Georgia’s muggy 50 degree weather “winter”) full of studying, spring break is well deserved. But while blissful college kids look forward to a long week on the beach or a few days on the slopes, their bank accounts do not. 

Some students may choose to spend their week-long March vacation relaxing and recovering from seven weeks of school while others may use the opportunity to take an exciting trip. Although spring break traditions vary from student to student, the break itself has become a staple in modern American college culture.

Popular movies and TV shows, like “MTV Spring Break,” have put us under the false impression that spring break has to be an extravagant event that ends with at least two minor injuries and a random run-in with a trending celebrity. 

While there’s no shame in wanting the experience of an exhilarating beach or ski vacation, it’s also reasonable to crave a quick escape that doesn’t require digging further into your already empty pockets. Here are a few spring break alternatives that might save you a trip to the hospital and a dollar or two.

For starters, you could spend a week at home. A week in bed with no obligations other than finding a new show on Netflix or Disney Plus can be just as acclaimed as a luxury cruise and comes at no extra costs. 

“I don’t think it’s always worth it to go on a big trip with friends because it’s hard to plan and costs way more than you think it will,” senior Hannah Pitts said. “I’ve saved money on all my spring breaks before so this year I’m going on a cruise to the Bahamas. It’s way more money than it’s worth at this point and more stressful. I should have gone home.” 

The cost efficiency of a trip home depends on how far you live from campus, but for those who live within driving distance, spending $25 on gas for a week of home-cooked meals, easily accessible laundry machines and copious amounts of sleep sounds pretty great, and spending time with friends someplace other than the library sounds priceless.

“Spending time with friends from school or from home can be super cheap and still fun,” sophomore Sarah Mason said. “Last spring break my friends and I got together, ordered pizza, watched movies, caught up and just hung out together.” 

The week-long break is also a great opportunity to go home with friends to visit a state other than your own. Freshman Joi Buckley and a few of her friends decided to visit each other’s hometowns and the towns’ major attractions, hosting each other at their own houses to avoid the cost of hotels. 

“This spring break I’m going to Six Flags with some friends and then we’re house hopping for the rest of break,” Buckley said. “We decided that by staying at each other’s houses, we could experience each other’s cities and hometowns without the expenses of a hotel. I got the Six Flags ticket on sale and we’re splitting gas between four of us so I’m probably only going to spend around $70 to $80 for spring break.” 

Another alternative would be staying on Berry’s campus. Students are allowed to stay in their dorms over spring break and most of the buildings on campus, such as the Cage Center, remain open. You will have Berry’s 27,000 acres practically to yourself for enoing, hiking to the House of Dreams, watching deer, picnicing at Swan Lake, or leaving your dorm and returning without fighting for a good parking spot.

Berry is also an hour and 23 minute drive from Chattanooga, Tennessee, a great place for a fun day trip full of hiking, sightseeing and more. Spring breakers could visit Coolidge Park, the Tennessee Aquarium or the Hunter Museum of American Art where admission is free on Sundays. 

Georgia is home to many open parks, perfect for an overnight camping trip. For students who enjoy the outdoors and are up for adding a little adventure to their break, camping is a cheap alternative to a fancy hotel or Airbnb. The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests in Georgia have four major locations in Conasauga, Blue Ridge, the Chattooga River District and Oconee. The differing locations offer access to cabins, campsites, water activities, such as swimming and tubing, horse riding trails and scenic views. Single camping sites start at $9 per night.

Spring break is going to be what you make of it and whether that be going on a cruise to an exotic place, waking up at 5 a.m. to drive to Tybee Island for a day or hibernating in your dorm watching endless hours of Netflix, it’s important to remember that break doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg to have a good time. 

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