Spring break evokes a happy image for many people with thoughts of tan lines, tropical drinks and yellow polka dot bikinis. Our imaginations can easily get carried away as we envision spending a week in Palm Beach or Cabo – until reality hits. We begin to realize that to arrive at those dreamy destinations, we must first find the money to buy our way there. With student loans piling up, expensive books to buy and not-so-cheap weekends to look forward to, we watch that idyllic picture of spring break disappear. The next question is what to do with the free time.
Universities grant us this one week to forget about the papers, the tests and the dreaded 8 a.m. classes to take a much needed break. We may not have the money to travel to paradise, but there certainly are other options to choose from depending on how much you want to get out of your spring break.
Here are a few ideas on how to enjoy your time off without burning a hole in your pocket.
The Couch Potato’s Spring Break
It’s ok to be that person who would rather spend their vacation not doing anything. After spending all semester working your butt off watching Sut Jhally’s online lectures, chasing the PVTA and doing squats to fit into your favorite jeans, it’s time to kick back on the couch, freeload off your family and eat inordinate amounts of food. You deserve it. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Now turn on the TV and watch so many re-runs of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” that you convince your mom to make a rum ham for family dinner.
The Cash Lover’s Spring Break
Unfortunately you didn’t get your funds in order this semester. After mourning your friends’ departures for awesome destinations, you won’t be making the same mistake next year. Call that old boss and beg for hours, babysit every kid in the neighborhood and convince your parents to reinstate an allowance. You’ve got money on your mind and you won’t stop until you have enough to book a hotel for the following spring break. The early bird catches the, um, prime beach location.
The Smart Traveler’s Spring Break
Getting sick of your college friends? It might be time to buy a bus ticket and visit your friends from home that live away from home. Luckily for you, not every school has spring break at the same time. Now is your chance to save the money you would’ve spent on hotels and crash on your friend’s floor while mooching off their meal plan. Likely their parties won’t compare to those at UMass, but hey, what would you be doing otherwise?
The Local Tourist’s Spring Break
College students are constantly trying to get away to tropical locations over break, but they rarely take advantage of what they have in their own backyards. Many University of Massachusetts students are from the state, which is the home of some of the best sports teams and the most famous historical landmarks. Find cheap tickets to a Celtics or Bruins game and make a night out of it. Take the train into Boston, grab a slice at Pizzeria Regina and walk the Freedom Trail. There’s no reason you can’t enjoy what your hometown has to offer. And if pizza just doesn’t cut it, head to a Mexican restaurant for some margaritas and south-of-the-border cuisine to at least mimic the real deal.
The Philanthropist’s Spring Break
For all the do-gooders out there, make your spring break about someone other than yourself. Giving back to the community is one of the most self-fulfilling experiences one can engage in. It can be as simple as volunteering at a local shelter or soup kitchen, or you can take it to the next level and sign up for a service trip. This year the Hillel House is running an alternative spring break trip to New Orleans, but there are many more options out there. Although it is too late to sign up for this upcoming spring break, stick to local philanthropy this year and sign up ahead of time for next year.
Though these ideas may not sound as appealing as listening to the waves crash on the shore or body surfing in the Caribbean, do the best with what you’ve got and embrace your time off because it will be finals week before we know it.
Danny Donovan can be reached at email@example.com.Maddie Grant can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.