Make memories while cutting costs with spring break road trips

With spring break coming up in a few weeks, it's never too late to start planning a fun week with friends or family. To avoid the extra expense on airline tickets to a fancy destination, you can go with an alternative cheaper plan by taking on a road trip (Nicholas Cady | The Collegian)

Spring break can be expensive and also be tricky to plan if you don’t start early.

That being said, one way to avoid the chaos of spring break but keep all the fun is to take a road trip. Not only will you have time to get closer to your friends, but a road trip doesn’t require paying for a plane ticket in advance. Plus, road trips can take you to places that are a little less crowded.

Winter Park, Colorado

Winter Park is located in the central Rocky Mountains, 69 miles northwest of Denver. The road trip would be a 559 miles from Manhattan, which would take approximately eight-and-a-half hours with traffic.

Maria Vannicola, sophomore in business administration, said she had one of the best experiences of her life working in Winter Park for four months last summer.

“I have a special spot in my heart for Winter Park,” Vannicola said. “From the small mountain town feel to the friendly workers, intermixed with the unique, laid-back attitude, Winter Park is the place to be.”

What makes Winter Park a prime location for college spring breakers is its activities and atmosphere. The climate is expected to be cold, so bundle up. The Grand Country Colorado website suggestd taking to the slopes by skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling or even dog sledding.

If you plan on taking it easy, there are hot tubs, spas, shopping and plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from. Although all of these activities can add up to a pricey experience, students can make the trip more affordable by splitting the costs of a condo with a group of people.

Vannicola said she thinks road trippers visiting Winter Park should venture out and explore even further. While the town may seem small at a glance, it is only a 30-minute drive to Fraser, Colorado or other small towns nearby. Winter Park also offers a free shuttle service during the day and parts of the night, according to the official Colorado state website.

Vanilla recommends visitors try the local Library Sports Grille and Brewery.

“They have the best fried mac and cheese bites that remind me of KSU,” Vannicola said.

For more information about visiting Winter Park, Colorado, visit its website at

Gulf Shores, Alabama

Road trippers who want to “beach it” over break could visit Gulf Shores, Alabama. With a moderately warm temperature and flow of college students, Gulf Shores is definitely an option for those wanting to spend their spring break near a beach. Gulf Shores is located 1,005 miles from Manhattan, making it a 16-hour drive including traffic and tolls. This could be a strenuous road trip, but worth it if planned accordingly.

Traveling with a larger group of people is recommended to save money on gas and housing, as well as serve as a cushion for breaks on driving time.

Brett Neely, sophomore in supply chain management, visited Gulf Shores last spring break with his fraternity. He said he likes Gulf Shores because he was able to play Frisbee on the beach with his pledge brothers and a lot of college kids road trip there.

“The weather is very nice and the water isn’t very rough,” Neely said. “The houses you can stay in are also very comfortable and affordable.”

Whether you’re renting a house with a group of people, or staying in a condo with a few friends, Gulf Shores has a range of housing for groups big or small. Save money by buying food from the local grocery store and cook it at your house, or dine out a night at The Hangout or Lulu’s. Live bands perform at both restaurants, which create unique atmosphere for college spring breakers.

If you don’t feel like going to the beach for a couple of hours, go on a dolphin cruise for only $20.

Chicago, Illinois

City slickers should road trip to the windy city of Chicago. Amanda Todavchick, sophomore in athletic training, has lived in Chicago her whole life. When traveling to and from Chicago, Todavchick drives with her sister.

“The drive can be boring, but it’s not that bad,” Todavchick said.

This road trip would be about a 631 miles from Manhattan, which would take about 10 hours with traffic. Todavchick recommends shopping on Michigan Avenue, going to the Navy Pier, visiting art museums, hitting the downtown bars or viewing the famous Chicago bean.

“I think people should visit Chicago because you get to experience the skyscrapers of a big city with a bunch of diverse things to do,” Todavchick said.

As Todavchick suggests, Navy Pier is another “must” for road trippers visiting Chicago. Navy Pier consists of a variety of entertainment, rides, restaurants and shops. Make a stop at Pier Park and take a ride on the 150-foot ferris wheel to be able to see the whole city, as well as Lake Michigan, according to the Choose Chicago travel site. Pier Park also has many smaller rides and according to the travel website.

So, whether you want a trip to the beach or the city or the mountains, there’s still time to plan. With road trips, as long as you book some place to stay, the rest can be determined once you arrive. All these locations are drivable; though some are farther than others, there’s still always a place to go from Manhattan no matter what you’re looking for.