We’re already well into February already and those of us who live in chilly winter climates (or even those who don’t) are craving a spring break getaway.
However, many spring break trips quickly add up, leaving our savings accounts depleted (or our credit card balances unreasonably high) for the rest of the spring and summer. But that doesn’t mean you should abstain from your well-deserved escape, it just means you need to think creatively (and frugally). To get you started, here are some ideas for spring break trips that won’t break the bank.
South Padre Island, Texas
No passports required! This long, skinny island is located just five miles (by water) from Mexico. There are a variety of water-related activities (surfing, jet-skiing, etc.) for the sports-minded. For those who prefer to relax on a beach, South Padre has many to choose from. The island is very tourist-oriented, so there are several affordable, large all-inclusive resorts. However, to make your stay even more affordable, check out some cheap condo rentals and other affordable housing options on the island.
Panama City, Florida
Even more proof that you don’t need to leave the U.s. to have a great time over spring break is Panama City Beach (Florida), a 27-mile strip along the Gulf of Mexico. If you book a trip here, you’d better be ready to party. Think beach parties with thousands of people, large fruity cocktails and thumping music. During the day, you can lounge on the beach, swim with the dolphins at Gulf World Marine Park, do a little deep-sea fishing, or kayak on Shell Island (a beautiful state-run nature preserve). Panama City’s restaurants feature some of the freshest seafood you can get anywhere (as well as plenty of strong cocktails to was it down with.
A fast 3-hour flight from Miami, Puerto Rico is an affordable and easy spring break destination. Since it’s part of the U.S., you won’t need a passport to enter. San Juan doesn’t have the same “party ‘til you pass out” spring break reputation that many sunny spots do, which is why I prefer it. There’s no shortage of history and culture, and loads of public beaches (even those associated with the hotels along the waterfront are relatively “public”). There are also plenty of excellent restaurants in which to feast on traditional Puerto Rican cuisine or cutting edge culinary creations. The nightlife scene, especially in the Condado and Old San Juan, is incredibly lively, and there are a variety of bars/nightclubs to choose from. Puerto Rico offers a variety of lodging options in various price points, from 4-star casino hotels to 1-star hostels. Plus, flights (especially for those living on the East Coast) are incredibly affordable.
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
For some reason, the Dominican Republic is often over-looked in favor of more “traditional” spring break destinations like Cabo, Cancun or Jamaica. Lucky for you, this means that the DR is still relatively cheap. Puerto Plata in particular has only recently become more tourist-oriented. This history-packed city is now home to a variety of cutting-edge bars, clubs and restaurants just waiting to be filled with spring break revelers. There are also many types of accommodations, including lots of affordable all-inclusive options. You will need to bring your passport on this trip.
Ocean City, Maryland
Another no passports required option! Though at first blush it may not sound as appealing as an island destination, there are plenty of reasons to consider Maryland’s coastal Ocean City: miles of shoreline, plenty of opportunities for water sports, some of the best seafood in world and inexpensive accommodations, to name a few. An especially frugal option, especially if you live in the East Coast.