9 Vacation Spots To Reinvent Spring Break And Why You Should Plan Now

9 Vacation Spots To Reinvent Spring Break And Why You Should Plan Now

The essential budget-friendly guide to the time honored recess.

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Spring break has been glorified and bathed in debauchery since a similar practice in the time of the Greeks and signals, for many, the coming of summer. Begging forth thoughts (and for a large population of college students, memories or lack thereof) of party-filled days and nights, week-long Cancun trips, and hits on Barstool, spring break is a tradition long-revered.

With people all over the country flocking to warm white-sand beaches and seeking oasis under palm trees, now is the time to start planning your trip. But when flights to Miami start at $417* and foreign destinations have only a slightly higher asking price (some are lower!), looking for different experiences is worth considering for worldwide travel-addicts like me, especially since prices are only going to rise from now until break. Keep reading for 9 destinations with round-trip flights under $550 to head to for spring break - experiences and Airbnb recommendations included!

(*all flight comparisons are out of Newark Liberty International Airport - EWR and are listed in USD)


1. Lisbon, Portugal ($528)

Morgan Van Rhee

I visited my best friend in Lisbon this past June and had an amazing time exploring the coastal city. Its transportation system is insanely easy to navigate and the cost for a metro day pass is under $8. If you get lost, not to worry as the people are wonderfully friendly. As such a colorful and instagrammable city famed for mosaics, you will certainly want to explore as much as you can! My personal favorite spots in the city include old town Alfama, Mini Bar Teatro (get the chef's tasting menu!), and LX-factory with its artistic feel and unique restaurants including a rooftop bar. Make a trip to Cascais if you get the chance!

This Airbnb is so artistic!

2. Madrid, Spain ($526)

Carlotta Silvestrini

As the capital of Spain, Madrid houses some of the richest history in all of Europe. Be prepared that the Spanish you are used to learning here in the states will sound very different in Spain! At Sobrino de Botin, you can get a tour at the oldest-running restaurant in the world (it opened in 1725!) followed by lunch or dinner. Other options include taking the Teleferico de Madrid which is a gondola stretching over some of the most stunning parts of the city. No venture would be complete, however, without a trip to a tapas restaurant such as the famed Bodega de la Ardosa!

There is no better spot to cozy up after a long day with friends than at this stunning (and inexpensive) abode!

3. Rome, Italy ($469 or $350 out of JFK)

Bence Boros

There are so many activities to do in Rome including obvious visits to the Colosseum, Pantheon, Sistine Chapel, Trevi fountain, and St. Peter's Basilica. Moreover, however, are shopping trips to the Piazza di Spagna and recommended trips to Campo de' Fiori where you can delight yourself with the balsamic vinegars and olive oils at the market. If you get the chance, make the trip to Acquapendente where murals from artists all over the world dot the townscape or to Lake Como with its breathtaking scenery.

If you are searching for a classic Italian style place, look no further than the "Colosseum Dream Casa" in the city center!

4. Brussels, Belgium ($432)

Peter Heeling

At only $432, Brussels should be on your list for sure! It's unique mashup of architectural styles make the city photo-friendly and explorable, not to mention picture-friendly, jazzed-up classic street food disguised as plain fries and waffles! Be sure to try the 70's-esque vol-au-vents stuffed with fillings ranging from mushrooms and chicken to gooey cheese or apples!

With space for three guests and a great view, this penthouse is perfect!

5. Amsterdam, the Netherlands ($427)

Yanko Peyankov

My family wishes I would stop telling them about how much I loved Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. . . and that's just the airport! What can I say? I am 50% Dutch! While certainly known for their loose drug regulations and marijuana museum, there is so much more to the city. Visiting the Xtracold Icebar is a must with its interior including both a warm bar and one made entirely of ice, but don't worry, the bar provides a coat and gloves for you to go inside!

In a nation known for its innovative waterways, take it to the next level by staying on a houseboat!

6. Dublin, Ireland ($414)

StockSnap

Where better to spend St. Patrick's day than in Ireland itself? Grab brunch at Hatch and Sons for a real treat then take time to explore local cathedrals and castles. After exploring, take in a Guinness in a cozy and friendly pub with dinner. If you are feeling up for it, head down to the Vintage Cocktail Club for a tasty and boozy sip followed by a night of dancing at Club M. Even so, becoming friends with a local is the best route to take.

This colorful and cheery studio apartment is enough to brighten up any rainy day Dublin might send your way!

7. San Jose, Costa Rica ($399)

Morgan Van Rhee

The warmest destination on the list, San Jose is a great place to head for spring break. I personally loved my experiences in Costa Rica especially since the food was absolutely delicious! If you are looking for a spa retreat, the springs at the Volcano Arenal are beyond relaxing. Even so, adventure is out there! Do not miss out on ziplining in the lush forests or exploring the stunning landscape. When I returned home, I was so in awe I recounted to my mother that even the slums were beautiful.

Want stellar views at an awesome price? Well, here you go!

8. Paris, France ($371)

Morgan Van Rhee

During spring break of 2018, I hopped on a flight to Paris for the first time and fell in love with everything about the city immediately. Truly, I have never felt more at home in a city than I have in Paris and I hope to continue my culinary studies there soon. You cannot view the Eiffel tower without feeling completely drowned in glory. While the city is easy to navigate, take the time to learn a bit of French etiquette and never enter a store without greeting the shopkeepers with a quick "bonjour" before browsing. My favorite chef Jean Francois Piege operates his restaurant, "Le Grand Restaurant," out of the first arrondissement if you are looking for a luxe treat. Other delights include necessary visits to the historically aristocratic Le Marais, brunch at Eggs and Co., and the intimate 8-table French-Iranian fusion restaurant "Libra" (the ~singular~ chef operates in an open-view kitchen smaller than your average American queen or King-sized bed!). I've made an effort to get to Libra as often as I can during my travels. At night, go out for a bit of fun at the nightclub Palais Maillot.

As a modern take on classic Parisian apartment style, this place is a dream.

9. Montreal, Canada ($192)

Emmy Smith

If you have never tried poutine, you are truly missing out on all that is its squeaky cheese curd, warm gravy, and greasy thick-cut french fry glory. Poutine is a French-Canadian masterpiece of pride that you cannot miss out on. It would also be a shame if you never made it to St. Viateur Bagels or the Basilique Notre-Dame. While a chilly spot for spring break, don't be deterred by the weather for there is plenty of indoor shopping to be done in Mile-End.

For the adventurous minimalist, this loft is a coo!

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.
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After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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The Week BEFORE Spring Break Is High-Key Stressful And I Hate It

It's the week before my spring break, and I am stressed to the max.

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Most students in college during the time that I am writing this article are either currently on spring break or about to be on spring break. Me, I am the latter. This article is being written in my dorm a little under three hours before the deadline. The reason that it's kind of like this, besides the fact that I tend to procrastinate a lot and my best ideas come at the last minute, is the exact reason for the title.

It's the week before my spring break, and I am stressed to the max.

It's not even in the idea that I'm procrastinating because I am not. It's the idea that there is a lot both on my plate and on my mind. I have a few assignments that are due either Thursday, Friday, or even tonight that are not done yet and I'm just trying to get things together. I also have two midterms on Friday that I am studying for, and I'm creating a lesson plan for one of my classes and it takes time but I'm honestly running out of time. Plus I have events for the sorority during this week including a sisterhood and a new member/active event where I will pref for my little.

To add on, while it's not happening until next week, I have the surgery that I already wrote two articles about and I know that there will be a follow-up article to the follow-up article of the first one once the surgery is done. So in short, not only am I feeling really stressed, I am feeling really nervous about this surgery.

In the past, my stress has been something that I knew I could control easily at times.

But with college, there are times when I can and times when I really can not control it. This is one of those times. I'm listening to music that can calm me, I'm trying to take naps whenever I can find the time to, I rant to my friends and my mom whenever I feel like I need to, but this week just feels like something I can't escape until the week is over. But then again, as I said earlier, I got the surgery.

OK, I'm going to shut up about the surgery and save that for the article I write after it happens.

To add on, my dorm is right by the police station as well as the train tracks so whenever I would hear noises suddenly like the police cars testing the cars and the train coming by, the headache from my stress grows.

In conclusion, I just really want this week to be over. I know that it does not really compare to the stress that comes with finals week, and I know that stress obviously. But, with taking classes that call for a very demanding semester, every week, especially this week, I just pray for the end of the week to come quicker.

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