WASHINGTON, D. C. (Tuesday, March 6, 2018) ––Technically, winter, (astronomical winter, that is), only has fewer than two weeks left in its tank. However, “meteorological winter” officially ended on the last day of February, and the fun in the sun is already beginning. Spring Break is a rite of passage for 20.4 million college students. For the college crowd this year, three of the top ten Spring Break destination cities are in Florida, and two are located in Hawaii, according to expert AAA travel agents. This year, “Spring Break” occurs at most colleges and universities in North America from “February 18th to April 15th.”
We are sailing into the “two peak weeks” for Spring Break: the “weeks of March 10th to March 18th, and March 17th to March 25th.” Think Honolulu, Punta Cana and Montego Bay. Like early birds, students at Georgetown University, Catholic University of America, James Madison University, the University of Virginia, and Virginia Polytechnic are currently on Spring Break this week. Next week is Spring Break for students at Howard University, George Mason University, American University, and the U.S. Naval Academy. March 18 to March 25 is Spring Break for scholars at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, the University of Maryland – College Park, and Towson University. Students at Bowie State University and Morgan State University are heading off to “study break” March 19 and classes will resume on March 26.
The hottest spots for Spring Break this year include Florida, Hawaii, Mexico, California, Arizona, and Jamaica, according to AAA Travel bookings for trips in March. It is estimated that college students alone spend “more than $1 billion every year on spring break.” The college crowd won’t be the only ones traveling in large numbers this March and April, notes AAA. Families with children also use the occasion of school vacations to get up and go, although they are typically looking for somewhat tamer pursuits. While AAA’s travel experts still advise family travelers to look into a Florida or California theme park destination, they should also contemplate cruising as an ideal way to keep everyone entertained and on a budget.
“Spontaneous, spur-of-the moment Spring Break trips sound exciting, but doing your travel research and booking early will be essential to getting the spring vacation you really want,” said Victoria Stark, Retail Manager, at AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Travelers who are willing to look beyond the obvious ‘college beach towns’ may be able to find deals and discounts not normally associated with the Spring Break season. This is because the all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean are luring more budget-conscious students.”
“From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same,” some students at area colleges and universities will seek fun in the sun at popular Spring Break venues and vistas in Florida, Mexico, California, and Jamaica. The top spring break destinations south of the border in Mexico for students at American University, which observes spring break from March 11 to March 18, include Cabo San Lucas, Cancun and Puerto Vallarta. Another favorite haunt is Panama City Beach. All is not fun and games, however, during Spring Break. Next week, a group of students at Howard University will embark on an Alternative Spring Break trip to Puerto Rico, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria on September 20, 2017. The Alternative Spring Break program at Howard University was developed in 1994 by Reverend Dr. Bernard L. Richardson, the Dean of the Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel, at Howard University. In 2006, FEMA granted Howard students permission to volunteer to serve Alternative Spring Break following Hurricane Katrina. Georgetown University developed its Alternative Break program in 1975. Serving globally, a group of Georgetown students is participating in an Alternative Spring Break trip to Kenya from March 4 to March 11, 2018.
From March 10 to March 18, students at George Mason University will embark on Alternative Spring Break trips to learn something new. They will volunteer abroad in classrooms in Jamaica, or in elementary schools in Xela, Guatemala. Other George Mason students will volunteer their services in after-school enrichment programs in Camden, New Jersey; an ecosystem restoration project in Stuart, Florida; or conduct outreach to educate individuals in at-risk HIV/AIDS communities in Washington, D.C.
Pinching their credit cards and rubbing pennies, 42 percent of college students took a Spring Break trip in 2017, and spent an average of $684, a 28 percent decrease from 2016. Yet spring breakers spent $1.8 billion in 2017. A year ago, the average Spring Break budget for families was $1,436, a two percent decrease from 2016. Based on AAA Travel bookings for trips in March, the top ten 2018 spring destinations are:
1. Orlando, Florida.
2. Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
3. Honolulu, Hawaii.
4. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
5. Cancun, Mexico.
6. The Anaheim, California area.
7. Kahului, Hawaii (Maui).
8. Miami, Florida,
9. Phoenix, Arizona.
10. Montego Bay, Jamaica.
If you are planning a spring getaway, here are some timely and timeless reminders from AAA travel:
- Book Early – Booking early gives you both the luxury of selecting the best cruise cabin or preferred seat on your flight, at a more competitive rate. As hotels, cruises, and flights fill-up, prices usually rise due to lower availability.
- Know Your Destination – Are you traveling abroad? Can you bring your pet? Refer to the U.S. Department of State to find information regarding visa requirements, what you can bring, and detailed travel alerts and warnings.
- Consider Travel Insurance – When the unexpected happens, travel insurance can be your safety net. Hurricanes, flight cancellations, even illness while overseas, could cost you thousands of dollars. While travel insurance can vary in both coverage and price, you can find policies that reimburse you for health emergencies and/or out-of- pocket expenses due to a delayed/cancelled flight or other situations that prevent you from going. Interestingly, half of all claims are based on things that occur before the trip.
- Use a Travel Agent – Not only can they advise you on where to go and what to do when you get there, but also hook you up with exclusive upgrades, find competitive pricing, and help you find what you need to know about your destination.Know Your Benefits – Take advantage of benefits provided by credit cards and membership programs. For example, AAA members can save money on dining, shopping, hotels, rental cars, and attraction tickets.
With many cruise ships home-ported around the United States, including Baltimore, New York City, and New Orleans, you can escape to the sea for Spring Break without ever stepping foot on an airplane.
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