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ARTS & LIFESTYLE
Successful spring breaks still possible
Friday, March 9, 2001
It happens every March: the annual three-week phenomenon known as spring break. Having planned for months, nearly one million college students from across the country descend upon Florida and Mexico to relax and party.
This year's hot spots are Cancun, Jamaica, Acapulco, and the Bahamas.
But don't think you have to leave the country to have a good time. Many students also go to Florida and Texas to visit the famed beaches of Daytona, South Beach, Panama City, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Key West, Corpus Christi and South Padre Island.
One major debate right now is whether or not you get a better deal with a package or planning a trip yourself. There are advantages and disadvantages to each.
There are several different kinds of packages. Most students who purchase all-inclusive packages, which contain full meal and drink coverage, complain that with 225 different restaurants and bars in Cancun, they get very bored at the same hotel lobby, restaurant and bar for the entire trip. All-inclusives, besides being restrictive, also add between $240 and $290 per person to the price of a package.
Another type of package is the "party pak". These have a different set of problems. A typical party pak adds between $49 to $99 to your package. They usually offer 14 meals and 25 to 35 hours worth of free drinks. Most students won't make it to any of the breakfasts before closing time, and the hassle of driving six miles for a free taco bar is usually too much to cope with on a vacation. The drinks are at outdoor pool parties where the lines to get one can be more than an hour long.
Most week-long spring break packages include round-trip airfare, transfers between the airport and hotel, lodging, many free meals and drinks, and discounts at the largest parties and nightclubs. Many tour operators even offer athletic events, snorkeling, scuba diving, and guided excursions to tourist sights.
It can often be cheaper to go with a package because they get much cheaper rates on airfare. Because the tour operators take care of everything, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy a hassle-free trip. But a pre-planned, pre-packaged spring break can make you feel a bit helpless, with little say on where you sleep, eat, or even party.
If you are resourceful and use the Internet wisely, you can sometimes arrange your own trip as inexpensively as a pre-packaged one. This will take more effort on your part, but will be exactly as you want it, and you will have much more freedom.
However, if you are going to do a package trip, make sure that you check out the company you are doing it with. There are many organizations out there that will try to scam unsuspecting students. It isn't a bad idea to check with the Better Business Bureau and make sure that it is a legitimate company. Be wary of prices that sound "too good to be true", because they probably are.
The best way to ensure that your spring break is all you want it to be is to make sure that you do your planning in advance. Airline tickets are much cheaper when you buy them early. Do your research and make sure you know what is out there. It is important to look at all of the options before you get yourself committed to something.
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