Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Spring Break on the cheap side


Not everyone has the financial means to go to an exotic location over spring break. Those of us with smaller piggy banks usually end up spending the week parked in front of our laptops with our eyes glued to an endless deluge of Netflix movies or curled up in bed catching up on the sleep that so easily escaped us during midterm week. But just because your spring vacation will be more of a “staycation” this year doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy a week free from academia. Here are a few ideas to keep you from falling prey to ennui in between watching reruns of Seinfeld and obsessively checking your Facebook feed for event invites.

Take a road trip

Gather up some friends, throw on your favorite driving playlist and hit the road. Road trips are splendid because you can travel at your own pace and don’t have to follow anyone else’s itinerary; you are the master of your own destination. Where you go is irrelevant, because half the fun is just getting there. Gas prices might be steadily climbing, but a tank of fuel is considerably cheaper than a plane or bus ticket. And having friends along for the ride to split the cost of food and gas will keep your finances in check. Pro tip: Be adventurous – winding through the back roads is much more scenic than driving down long stretches of highway. Remember to bring a map just in case, or you might find yourself in that scene from “Deliverance” wondering why you hear banjoes in the distance. Just kidding, everyone has a smart phone.

Read a book

Okay, so the idea of reading anything after cramming for midterms all week might seem appalling, but sometimes reading for pleasure can be, well, quite pleasurable. If you’ve been buried in your comparative literature book for the last two weeks and you’ve reached the point where one more word about some dead English poet is going to make your brain implode, try reading something completely mindless like a trashy comic book or a gossip magazine. Not all reading must be academically-minded. It’s surprisingly refreshing to read a story or an article without having to think critically about it. When you get bored of old movies and YouTube videos, pick up a book with a quirky cover, and let your mind wander the reaches of the literary world. Or, you know, just enjoy reading something you won’t have to analyze later on.

Get crafty

Arts and crafts are not just for preschoolers. The website has literally thousands of easy and fun craft projects you can entertain yourself with, from t-shirt reconstructions to personalized iPhone cases to fresh takes on favorite recipes. The creative community site lists detailed step-by-step instructions for each project along with tips and tricks to help you with more complicated endeavors. Fair warning, it is easy to get lost in the archives of this kitschy craft community so be sure you don’t spend the whole week browsing things to do instead of actually doing them. Maybe you’ll even have some cute crafts to give to your friends when you return from break.

Go camping

Get a head start on camping season. Camping equipment can be rented for reasonable prices at most outdoor sports stores, but if you want to be economical pitch a homemade tent from canvas tarps or thick blankets. If you’re not up for handling the sometimes complicated process of tent-pitching, rent a log cabin or yurt (those roundish buildings with the dome roofs) and split the cost with some nature-friendly friends. Get a jump on the campfire season, and enjoy the early days of spring by roasting marshmallows and singing cheesy campfire songs. Even if you only go as far as your backyard for a night of camping, at least you’ll be outside.

Go exploring

How well do you know your hometown? There are probably a few coffee shops and retail stores you haven’t been to yet, or some scenic vistas you’ve never seen or haven’t been to since childhood. Be bold and go to that dimly lit bookstore tucked away behind the gas station or get a cup of coffee from that new café that just opened downtown. Go places you wouldn’t normally go, like the candle shop or the health food store and just look around. Talk to people and see what’s been happening in town while you’ve been away. You may just learn something fascinating about your hometown that you never knew.

Spring break doesn’t have to be a huge expenditure to be enjoyable. There are a variety of ways to keep yourself entertained at home while you unwind from a stressful week of exams and essays. Creativity is key in staving off boredom. When you feel your eyelids getting heavy from the monotony of daytime TV, get off the couch. Try a new recipe or go for a nature walk. Play some funky music and have a dance party. Gather up your friends for a rousing game night. You have a whole week to relax and do anything you want, so don’t squander it in front of your computer.

Emily A. Brightman can be reached at [email protected].


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