By NATHAN GARDNER
There are less than two weeks before spring break, so now is the time to make plans. If you haven’t made any yet, don’t panic.Tampa is located in the middle of the most sought after spring break destinations in the world, which means you can still throw together an awesome week.For those hoping to leave the area options are more limited, but they are still available.
- Get away from the beach: Look at any list for the most popular spring break destinations, and every one listed is likely to be a beach. Tired of the cold and gloom, many spring breakers flock south in search of the sun and fun it promises. Hotels, restaurants, and other attractions are ready for his influx of people, and raise their prices accordingly. Inhabitants of Florida are in a privileged position. Having so much time here with the beach always available, this is a great time to go somewhere new while avoiding the crowds and saving money. The Appalachian Mountains are only a day’s drive away and offer some of the best hiking and mountain biking in the country, along with some really cool small towns full of great food and craft beers. For those looking to party it up over spring break, New Orleans is about the same distance away. NOLA is always busy but, compared to beach destinations, it will be much easier to find deals.
- Skyscanner.com: This website is used by travellers all over the world to book last-minute airline tickets. Searches can be as specific as exact dates and airports, or as broad as the entire month, to or from any city or country. Both the website and smartphone app are easy to use, and Skyscanner checks more airlines and websites than most of the popular websites out there. Be wary of the sites it directs you to book tickets — with so many options, some are bound to be a little sketchy. It is always a good idea to look up reviews for the booking sites before buying tickets.
- Hostels: Some American travellers are wary of hostels, but their worries are mostly unfounded. In real life, hostels are a great option for a few reasons. They are usually much cheaper than other accommodations (sometimes less than $10/night), they often have free or discounted activities and events (free pub crawl, anyone?), and can be a great way to meet other travellers. Hostelworld.com and hostels.com are both great websites to check. They allow users to browse all the available hostels with prices, descriptions, pictures, and user ratings.
- Couchsurfing: Another great option for more adventurous travellers is couchsurfing.com. As much a social networking site as it is resource for travellers, this website allows users to create a profile, upload pictures, and share information about themselves. Once a profile is made, users can see the profiles of people who are in their destination city and have a place where to stay. The entire website and all of its features are free except for one: identity verification. This feature is optional, though it is worth the $20 annual payment as users will be able to find hosts more easily, as people are generally wary of profiles who have not been verified. In lieu of, or in addition to, identity verification, there are also user ratings and comments so users can have a better idea of who they’ll be staying with and where.
- Airbnb: This website can be a great option to find more private accommodations at fair prices. It is decidedly more expensive than either hostels or couchsurfing, but is usually less expensive than staying at a hotel. During peak times it can be hard to find a good Airbnb host it is best to plan ahead and book early. Booking a couple of weeks in advance will net the best results, though last minute reservations are possible. Just be aware that, in most cases, the owners are ordinary people and not businesses. This can make last minute bookings tricky as each owner will have their own rules and regulations, and they may not coincide with holiday plans. For example, if they are renting a room in their house, there may be an early noise curfew, alcohol or tobacco restrictions, or unusual “business” hours. The reviews for this site are overwhelmingly positive, though, and with a little research and foresight, the perfect room or house can be found and booked, often for much less than other accommodations in the area.
- Eat in: Eating out for every meal gets expensive. Buying groceries and cooking meals costs significantly less which means more money to spend on fun stuff, like drinks, tours, and admission tickets. Cooking in is also faster. Going to a sit down restaurant can take a couple of hours — time which could be better spent on the beach, sightseeing, or general merrymaking.