With the mounting pressures of keeping up with classwork, working a part-time job and searching for internships to open up future career opportunities, today’s college students often forget to have fun. With spring break approaching quickly and summer break not far after that, it is imperative to find a week or two in your busy schedule to set aside time for traveling. Travel broadens people’s understanding of different cultures, allows people to forget everyday worries and stresses and, most importantly, gives people time to sit back, let loose and create lifetime memories. Here is a list of five vacation getaways that won’t put your bank account too far in the red.
- Hot Springs, North Carolina
Hot Springs is a town of 563 people, 45 minutes from Asheville, that hugs the Appalachian trail and the French Broad River. The French Broad River meets Spring Creek here, which creates a natural hot spring, hence the name. This area is a perfect getaway for hikers, white water rafters or those who seek to sink into the soothing hot mineral waters. The Hot Springs Resort and Spa offers cheap camping, cabins and natural jacuzzis. Camping prices range from 30 to 65 dollars a night. For those who don’t enjoy ‘roughing it’, cabins accommodate two to eight guests and range in prices from 50 to 180 dollars a night. The campground is a five-minute walk from the Appalachian trail and a ten-minute drive to the numerous white water rafting ramps. There is a small downtown area with a few restaurants that have live music on the weekends.
- Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
For those who wish to go skiing but need to save a few bucks and would rather get away from the snowy north, this is the perfect destination. This national park includes 30 square miles of dunes reaching 750 feet in the air. Visitors can ski and board down the sand slopes all year round. The closest town to the dunes is Alamosa, Colorado, which has a population around 10,000, but there are campsites in the national park. There are many hiking and horseback riding trails. For those who wish to brave the climb, there is Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle, Cleveland Peak and Mount Herard, all of which stand over 13,000 feet tall. The Great Sand Dunes are elevated 8,200 feet above sea level, and the clear Colorado skies make this national park a destination for astrologists and the romantic star gazer alike.
- Lisbon, Portugal
Venturing outside of the United States always costs more than the college road trip, but for those who have a little extra money to spend on a plane ticket, Lisbon will be worth the dollar. The benefit is that once you touch ground in Lisbon, the trip will be relatively cheap. The city ranks as the third most affordable destination in Europe by US News. Lisbon, the largest city in Portugal, sits on the Atlantic Ocean and carries a relaxing mediterranean climate. Whether you’re sprawled out on the Cascais beaches, gazing upon the historic and colorful architecture in the downtown region, or simply sipping an espresso in a cafe, there are infinite opportunities to entertain yourself in Lisbon. Unlike Hot Springs or the Great Sand Dunes, Lisbon includes a spirited nightlife. The capital city has bars, discos, fado houses and nightclubs. The drinks are cheap, bars stay open until 4 AM, and discos stay open until 6 AM.
- Mississippi Blues Trail, Highway 61
This is a trip for music lovers who aren’t afraid to spend additional time in the car. The Mississippi Blues trail is a trip back to the origins of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Blues music and in turn, rock music, first came from the plantations of Mississippi. This trail is a stretch of Highway 61, starting in Memphis, Tennessee with the famous Sun Studios and continuing all the way down the western coast of Mississippi. The trip is a step into the lives of those who invented the blues. You see how the cotton fields, train stops, churches, cemeteries and poverty played into the lives and the music of the original blues musicians. You can feel the cold eerie air seep out of Robert Johnson’s grave in Greenwood. You can sit on the porches of Dockery Plantation, where Charlie Patton invented the Blues. The Shack Up Inn in Greenville, Mississippi on Hopson plantation is an old cotton gin that has been renovated to house guests. The inn charges from 75-95 dollars a night for the cabins. It is located right in the center of delta blues country and is a quick drive from nightly live music at Red’s Lounge or Ground Zero Blues Club.
- New Orleans, Louisiana
Since it’s February (time for Mardi Gras), it seems appropriate to include The Big Easy. Energy and excitement swarms the French Quarter. Bourbon Street houses tons of bars and restaurants that include gumbo, crawfish, poboys and numerous other New Orleans cuisine. Frenchmen street is the spot to see live jazz music. On a nightly basis the bars are packed full of regulars and tourists alike enjoying the glue of New Orleans: Jazz. This is the most expensive city on the list, but there are hotels within walking distance of the French Quarter that charge around 100 dollars a night.