January 2019: The winter chill may be here now, but the spring thaw will be coming to northeast Oklahoma soon, and with the spring comes the annual break from studies for high school and college students everywhere – spring break.
Although spring break may still be months away, it’s never too early to start thinking about the where and how of your spring break, so the sooner you start making plans, the better and more likely it will be a spring break you’ll remember for all the right reasons.
First and foremost, plan, plan, plan. Months before your spring break, begin to think about where you and whoever will be accompanying you, whether it’s family or friends, want to visit. Consider the time and resources required for various destinations, whether it’s a return to a favorite vacation spot or it’s a first-time trip to somewhere new.
A few possible spring break destinations for you to consider might be:
Clearwater, Jacksonville Beach, or Key West Florida. Although Padre Island or Galveston might be closer by way of a car, a trip to any of Florida’s beaches would be a trip you’ll not soon forget if you’ve got the time and resources. Jacksonville Beach boasts amazing restaurants, a weekend bar scene, and is within an hour’s drive from the more crowded and known Daytona Beach. Key West is as far south in the mainland U.S. and is as close to an actual vacation to the Caribbean that you can plan without needing your passport. With its clear water, laid-back atmosphere, and little traffic, Key West should be on anyone’s bucket list, and spring break would be an ideal opportunity to experience it for yourself. And as for Clearwater, Florida, it was rated last year’s top beach in the U.S. by TripAdvisor. With more than 1,300 miles of coastline, Florida is a haven for beach-lovers.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Myrtle Beach is famed for its amusement-park rich boardwalk (but beware overpriced tourist traps), and it happens to be the central hub for more than 60 miles of pristine coastline, with plenty of spots for places to party or enjoy some quiet time with someone special.
The Outer Banks, North Carolina. Less a party beach than a picturesque destination full of historic lighthouses, with watersports, state parks, and great seafood. The Outer Banks may be less rowdy than other beaches (Galveston included), but its windswept beaches can be a magical experience for families, couples, and close friends.
For those disinclined to go to the beach, other vacation ideas would include some time on a lake (of which, Oklahoma has no shortage), skiing, visiting any of the nation’s beautiful national parks (Yellowstone, Yosemite, Arches National Park, Zion National Park, Grand Teton National Park or the Grand Canyon rank among the country’s best), or visit any of the region’s unique cities, such as New Orleans, La., Savanna, Ga. Nashville, Tenn., or one that appeals to you.
Once you’ve decided on a vacation spot, compare the different travel options available to you, whether those are by car or vehicle, airplane, or other, as well as the different places at where you’ll be staying once there or once you arrive or along the way, should you be traveling by car and for more than a day.
It may be necessary to purchase tickets for the chosen method of travel as well as reserving a room of your choice at nearby hotels or motels.
It’s important to note that the sooner you purchase tickets and/or make hotel reservations, the better, as early planning will not only be good for your wallet but increase the likelihood of hotel and ticket availability. Hotwire, Travelocity, and Expedia are a few websites to help you find the hotel that’s right for you and your party, or if you’re looking for a spring break package, special deals aplenty can be found at Travelzoo.com and studentcity.com/spring-break-deals.
Secondly, research, research, research. Should you be traveling to a new location, it’s crucial to have a good idea to know what to expect before you arrive, particularly if your plans take you not just across the country, but out of it.
If possible, check the usual climate for the time of year that you’ll be traveling, as well as find local spots of interest (other than the obvious, such as Disney World or Universal Studios, should you be planning a trip to Orlando, Florida, for example).
Depending on where you’re traveling, you may need to bring a passport, birth certificate, or photo ID, and should you be leaving the country, you may need to exchange your (American) currency for that used in the country into which you’ll be traveling.
Third, be prepared to make and stick to a budget, but also, expect unexpected expenses.
Remember, you’re going to have fun, but you may hit some figurative and literal speedbumps along the way, particularly if you’re driving. Be sure the vehicle you’re taking is road-ready, and up to make the trip, however long the trip may be. Check the condition of the spare tire before leaving, and have the telephone number of AAA or roadside assistance in case of emergency.
Also, be mindful of differences in gas prices from state to state, and that your cell phone plan may charge extra for calls made out of normal areas of coverage, overseas calls, even more so.
Should you be planning to fly, according to Airfarewatchdog, the two best days to fly are Tuesdays and Wednesdays, if you’re wanting to save some money. The next cheapest days to fly are Thursday and Saturday.
Lastly, get ready to get packing. Get your checklist of essentials for the trip (passport, clothing, luggage, currency, etc.) and start packing weeks before you depart.
Before you leave, if your home or apartment is going to be vacant, have the post office hold your mail for the week to keep it from collecting in your mailbox, and if you have pets, be sure you have someone to care for them during your absence.
If you’re flying, be familiar with the airline you’re going to be taking and allow yourself considerable time at the airport, both before takeoff, and after you land.
Should a road trip or plane trip not be in your budget, there are plenty of nearby activities where you can make memories, or, more economical still, is the ever-popular “staycation,” allowing you to enjoy your time off without the need of packing a suitcase.
Don’t think of a staycation as a cop-out, think of it as a little time for resting and relaxing. Turn off your phone, laptop, and other devices, and start on that book you’ve been meaning to read or start that art or other projects you don’t normally have time to do, and the best part is that it doesn’t cost you a thing.
If you do feel like getting out, like a traditional vacation, make plans (and a list) of nearby restaurants, shops or merchants you’ve been meaning to get to but haven’t had the chance to and finally pay them a visit, taking with you, your friends or family to share in the experience. For the kids, have them invite friends over and let them go camping -- in their own backyard. Just have them pitch a tent and “rough it” outside with all the comforts of home just a few yards away.
To make the most of your staycation, whether you’re taking time for yourself or making memories with family, have a plan so that the days don’t slip away without you taking advantage of the precious free time.
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