Exciting, affordable vacations only few hours’ drive away


Despite my love for Manhattan and every aspect of the Wildcat community, life sometimes causes me to want to get away. With this goal in mind, I decided to take a long overdue road trip.

As a K-State sophomore who took my first plane ride this past June, driving is my usual mode of transportation. When thinking of what is nearby, fun and cheap, St. Louis instantly popped into my head.

Going through the list of things to plan, I thought: place to stay? I have family and friends there — check. What to do? See the Gateway Arch and visit Six Flags — check. What I failed to factor in was cost.

As a poor college student, all my money goes to books, tuition, rent or groceries. I have the good fortune to have a parent paying for my college, but I recently moved from the dorms to an apartment and am testing out adulthood, with all its extra costs. Yes, I worked two jobs this summer and saved my wages, but I can spend cash fast.

I chose to take on extra jobs on campus to be able to pay for my trip to St. Louis, but many other K-State students with similar road trip desires have found other ways to fill their need for a break.

Anna Harrison, sophomore in elementary education, went on a road trip with her friend Michelle Mosher, sophomore in elementary education, to Great Bend, Kan., over the Fourth of July holiday.

“Since fireworks are illegal, besides smoke bombs, sparklers and poppers, in our hometown of Overland Park, Kan., we decided to plan a trip to Great Bend for the Fourth of July because fireworks are legal there,” Harrison said.

She has family in Great Bend, so their only expenses were $100 in gas and a $25 meal at Russell Stover’s Candy Factory in Abilene, Kan.

“That breaks down to about $65 per person,” Harrison said. “It was fun shooting fireworks and being with family, and it was inexpensive. I’m glad I got the opportunity to go.”

Jordan Wadella, junior in marketing, went to Winter Park, Colo., with Lifestylez, a program that creates vacation opportunities for college students nationwide, after hearing about it from the KSU Snow Ski and Snowboard Club.

She said Lifestylez finds destinations for the students and provides discounts on things like ski lifts, lodging and amusement.

Wadella drove with three girls in her sorority and one of their brothers, but there was a caravan from the K-State campus to Keystone, Colo.

The package started at $248 and covered lodging for six days and five nights, lift passes for four days, Lifestylez events and discounts for equipment rental, food and drinks. Wadella said they all stayed in condos near or on the base of the mountains, and she probably spent an extra $100-200 on food, drinks and other entertainment.

For those looking for something a little closer than Colorado, there are other options close enough for a day trip, like Omaha, Neb., just a five-hour drive away.

Marsha Roblyer, referral coordinator in the Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital, said she considers the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo to be a good family-oriented road trip. She said she initially went to the zoo for work but then decided to bring her family after enjoying her initial experience.

No saving is necessary for this trip. Zoo admission is $11.50 for adults, and children age 2 and under are free. To keep things even cheaper, pack a lunch and snacks to bring along instead of buying them at the zoo. In that case, the only expense besides admission is the cost of gas to and from Omaha.

Traveling the world would be fun but is not always feasible. A road trip to nearby cities in Kansas, Missouri, Colorado or Nebraska can provide the feeling of taking a vacation without finding your bank account empty when you get home.