Dwindling student loan resources and shrinking financial aid aren't the only adverse effects the economy is having on college students. Spring break — the annual Bacchanalia of shirtless frat brothers and bikini-clad sorority sisters — may be financially challenging for plenty of college kids in 2009.
"It's likely the economy will prevent many parents from being able to fund their college student's annual trip to Daytona Beach or Acapulco," says Jeanenne Tornatore of online travel giant Orbitz. "Smart parents — and students — are already looking for closer-to-home, cost-effective alternatives to distant and costly tropical destinations."
Choosing destinations closer to home can also ensure college students enjoy another rite of passage — the road trip. And parents who worry about the wilder culture of some popular spring break destinations may find comfort in knowing their kids are away from the chaos.
"Nearly every major American city is within 300 miles of a fun-filled destination that would make a great alternative to traditional spring break spots," says Tornatore. "What's more, hotels and attractions in many of those destinations will offer packages and discounts to entice travelers."
The following are tips on how to choose an alternative spring break destination for your college student, and some locations that might work for a spring family trip as well:
Here are some great spring break travel alternatives to consider:
Palm Springs, Calif. — A favorite of West Coasters, Palm Springs will appeal to spring breakers with more sophisticated tastes. Great weather year-round, a vibrant downtown filled with shops, galleries, eateries and coffeehouses are all set against the beautiful backdrop of the desert. To really indulge your college kid, book him a treatment at one of Palm Spring's famous spas.
San Francisco, Calif. with its colorful streetcars, stunning views and exciting diversity can be a city that pops for spring break. Funky restaurants, bars and music all add to the appeal.
Savannah, Ga. — Home to charming cobblestone streets and a short drive from the beaches of Tybee Island, Savannah combines Southern hospitality with modern-day luxury. College students will love the funky, fun shops and raucous taverns on cobblestoned River Street. Watersports abound, from jet skiing on the Savannah River to dolphin-watching cruises. And spring breakers can have a fun, spooky time taking a ghost tour through America's most haunted city.
Newport, R.I. — An hour and a half from Boston, Newport combines a lively waterfront downtown with the history and grace of the Gilded Age mansions. The local yacht club hosts free waterfront festivals and outdoor concerts, leaving students with plenty of funds to enjoy the great restaurants and local shops.
Other great alternative spring break destinations include Chicago, the Pocono's in Pennsylvania, Monterey or Carmel in California, Houston or San Antonio in Texas, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and St. Louis in Missouri.