By the time spring break arrives, you will have completed two thirds of your college year, and will undoubtedly be in need of a vacation. However, final exams are still on the horizon at this point, with your grades dependent on a good performance. Spring break is a vital opportunity to recharge batteries before the final push of the academic year. Yet, this would seem to be at odds with the mad partying and spending that typically takes place during spring break. So how do you manage to fulfill all your social obligations without exhausting yourself and your finances along the way? The following tips will help you have a ball without losing it all!
1. Decide what you want to do for spring break.
While spring break may be synonymous with parties on the beach in Cancun, who says you can’t do something completely different, and perhaps more worth-while? There is nothing stopping you going on an alternative spring break, such as a trip volunteering abroad. This could be getting involved in conservation projects, fundraising, or teaching English. This way you get to do something meaningful, beef up your resume, experience a different culture, and you get to meet new people. You could even arrange to go together with your college friends, so you can still have fun together when you are off duty. If this sounds too much like hard work, this is no shame in just going home for spring break. You can meet up with friends and family from home and get looked after by mum and dad for a couple of weeks. You could even invite a college friend to stay and show them around your home town.
2. Plan ahead.
Whatever you decide to do during spring break, get planning well in advance. While there may be some last-minute deals on the go just before spring break, you will only get your perfect vacation if you plan it as carefully as possible. This means booking accommodation and transportation, as well as securing any deposits required from everyone you are traveling with. As the vacation gets a bit closer, you should book tickets to any popular attractions you want to see, or to theatre shows, and even book dinner for a couple of nights to allow big groups to dine together.
3. Budget and shop around.
Spring break can be very expensive and can make quite a dent in many students’ finances. This is one reason to consider alternatives to vacations at all-inclusive resorts. Hundreds of dollars saved on spring break could make your student life a lot easier throughout the rest of the year. But, if a beach vacation is a must, do make sure you can afford it. Budget enough for transportation, accommodation, food and nights out at the start of the academic year. Of course, you should take full advantage of any student discounts, so make sure you shop around.
4. Prioritize your academic work.
Use spring break as an absolute deadline for completing assignments and any other outstanding work – that book you meant to read, or that journal article you were told to consult. This means you can start back after spring break in the best possible position, ready to prepare for final exams and to achieve your best possible grade.
5. Think ahead to life after college.
If you are a senior, spring break is a chance to plan for the next stage of your career, once you graduate from college. Make the most of the time to research jobs, fill in application forms, attend interviews or complete work experience and internships to boost your resume.
6. Sort out your dorm room.
Do your future self a big favor by tidying your dorm room, doing your laundry and throwing out perishable food. A tidy room will create a peaceful mind ready to relax and have fun during the break, and you will find it easier to get stuck back into your college work once you return.
7. Send your luggage.
If you are going abroad during spring break, or if you need to move your possessions due to your dorm closing, you can easily put your things in a suitcase or box and have them sent home or to your vacation destination using Send My Bag (10% discount for ISIC cardholders). This means you don’t have to be overly selective about which clothes to bring, and you can avoid the hassle of having to drag everything behind you onto trains or buses. You can also send your sports equipment, such as golf clubs or bikes, so that you can take part in outdoor pursuits during your vacation. At the end of recess, your items can just be shipped back to your student accommodation.
8. Make contingency plans.
Plan for the worst while on vacation by making backup plans. This might include having alternative accommodation options if your booking falls through, having money spread across cards, traveler’s checks and cash, memorizing key phone numbers in case you lose your cell phone (including the local emergency services number), and making copies of important documents like your passport.
9. Travel insurance.
This is a must, especially if you are going abroad. Make sure your travel insurance includes cancellation cover. You should ask for your policy to start a few days or weeks in advance of your trip so that you are covered in the case of any prior event causing you to cancel your trip, such as a family bereavement or bad weather. Better still, purchase annual travel insurance that automatically renews so that you are always covered.
10. Look after yourself.
Especially if you are spending your vacation partying, there a number of common sense rules that you should follow to ensure your safety and well being. Don’t invite trouble by wandering off on your own. Stay with your friends and make sure you all go home together at the end of the night, or at least in pairs. Never leave your drinks unattended and key an eye on them in tight crowds. Stay hydrated, when sunbathing during the day, and into the evening while drinking alcohol. Pack a survival kit with your luggage, to include mosquito repellent, painkillers, contraceptives, sun protection and after sun. If you just remember one thing, it should be to know your own limits, when it comes to drinking, engaging in physical activities, or sunbathing. You don’t want to make mistakes that could change the rest of your life.