Spring break on a budget

Despite the groundhog’s appreciation of his own shadow, spring will come again, as it always does. And with spring comes the week of hanging out and having too much fun that college students always seem ready to take advantage of…spring break.

Spring break week finds college students around the country flocking to popular locations for social gatherings and the opportunity to get some relief from the monotony of school. And while the typical budget of a college student is rather tight, many students find ways to stretch their dollar and enjoy the spring break experience.

Jade Travel, a travel agency with branches in both Manhattan and Topeka, has aided the community and surrounding area with its travel planning for 25 years. Each year, the company sees many college students looking for the perfect way to spend spring break. Kimbra Henry, vice president of sales management at Jade, said that the popularity of spring break travel has become so nationally recognized, that tighter restrictions are placed on some of the most popular travel locations to help keep things under control.

“Age requirements can be a big challenge,” Henry said. “Most 18-year-olds cannot stay by themselves in many hotels in popular spring break areas without an adult.”

Henry also said that age restrictions are often imposed on cruise ship travel or residence rentals, when some places require that students be at least 21 or 25 years of age to board or sign a lease agreement.

Some of the most popular locations that typically impose some kind of age restriction include Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Miami, Cancun, Las Vegas and South Padre Island.

But for all those students who meet the age restrictions, travel for spring break and other major trips can be easy and inexpensive, especially for students utilizing the service of travel agencies.

“You will get better rates through a travel agency than if you were on your own,” Henry said. “We’ve got contacts with hotels, wiggle room with airlines and access to unpublished rates that other people simply don’t have access to. It is especially beneficial to use a travel agency when thinking about traveling abroad. It’s important for people to have an agent, someone in their corner just in case.”

However, students planning smaller spring break adventures may decide that they can handle the booking and trip planning on their own.

Matthew Hageman, a junior at Washburn University, is planning a trip to Padre with five other friends.

“We just want to get away for a little while,” Hageman said. “It’s nice to get a break.”

Hageman and his companions make a habit of saving for spring break early so the hit to the budget is a little less of a blow.

“It’ll only cost us about $350 a person to stay for a whole week, but that doesn’t include gas and spending money once we get down there,” Hageman said.

Like Hageman, Washburn senior Mollie Starks has been planning her trip to Pensacola, Fla. with her boyfriend and two other friends for a few months now. And though the trip is low-key and slight in cost, Starks recognizes the importance of advanced planning.

“We probably started booking things about two months ago,” Starks said. “We wanted to make sure that we had rooms and a rental car booked far enough in advance.”

While not all students are migrating to the beach for spring break, several are making plans to head to warmer climate.

“I just want to relax for a while and work on my tan,” Starks said.