1. Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
As a college student, it’s important to get your money’s worth without spending an arm and a leg. Niagara Falls can satisfy that for cash-strapped youth. Cheap hotels by the Falls abound, and you can move around town easily on foot, as many of the attractions are within walking distance of each other. Pack your stay with visits to the Falls and Marineland Theme Park, where you’ll get your fix of seafaring animals like dolphins and killer whales – combined with the thrill of amusement park rides. The drinking age is 19, so a visit to the Fallsview Casino – and Dragonfly Nightclub after – is an absolute must.
2. New River Gorge, West Virginia, United States
New River Gorge cabins are the perfect winter solution for the stressed out and over-extended college student. With all the amenities of a home away from home, you’ll be able to relax and regain the strength you need to get through term. Weekend packages at local resorts typically include a deluxe cabin with a hot tub, kitchen, Wi-Fi, ski passes, breakfast, and a canopy tour. The area offers great group rates, so grab some friends and head out for the weekend.
3. San Juan, Puerto Rico
No passport necessary for this trip. Sizzling Puerto Rico offers more for your money and is generally less crowded than your typical spring break destination. You’ll understand why it’s called the Island of Enchantment after just a day enjoying the island’s perfect weather and amazing local food. For college students on a budget, it combines water fun with non-stop nightlife, as well as the opportunity for cheap accommodations and flights. Note before you go: Spanish is Puerto Rico’s dominant language, so brush up on your linguistics (otra cerveza, por favor) before you go.
4. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Though this may come as a surprise, you can get to and stay in Amsterdam on a tight budget, and you can get even cheaper rates if you choose to travel with a group. So round up some friends and get going. Sight see with your classmates during the day and party at local bars and clubs at night – a staple of any college student’s spring break. There are dozens of cheap and even free tourist attractions in the area that will keep you busy while the sun is up without taking a toll on your wallet: free tours, free afternoon concerts, and countless other free activities.
5. Panama City Beach, Florida, United States
If you’re not looking to get away from the crowds of other college kids on spring break then Panama City Beach just might be the place for you. Because it’s a popular spring break destination, accommodations are relatively cheap and very easy to find. Go jet skiing, parasailing or swimming with the dolphins to add some flare to your trip. The party never ends at Panama City Beach and – as every college student dreams – you might even run into a few celebrities as you stroll along Florida’s shores.
Make your winter vacation count for something a little extra by volunteering over the break in Thailand. You can experience more than the average visitor and get involved in the religious and cultural life of the Thai people by providing childcare or building houses. For adventure lovers, combination packages are available that fuse volunteerism with outdoor excursions like kayaking, bamboo rafting and elephant riding. And an extra perk: you’ll get some sun and heat in the midst of cold winter months.
7. Montreal, Quebec, Canada
If the cold is your thing, then this is just the place for you, because winters here sometimes get a little rough. On the plus side, though, you’ll have access to almost 300 clubs and the drinking age is only 18. The second-largest city in Canada is full of culture, history, and – lucky for you – youth hostels. Take advantage of the mountains in the area and hit the slopes. If you’re not one for skiing, there are also plenty of places to go ice skating. Brush up on your French before you go – Montreal is the second-largest French-speaking city in the world. It’s a bit like going to Paris, but cheaper.
If you’re looking to spend the bulk of your summer in one place, but you don’t necessarily want that place to be at home, then consider Australia. During your summer vacation, it’ll be winter in Australia, so pack accordingly. Explore Australia’s mesmerizing beaches, deserts, and outback in the warmer northern territory and take in its wildlife, like kangaroos, koalas and wallabies that live in forests and national parks. To really save, find a hostel in Melbourne to stay, buy groceries, and master Sydney’s public transit system.
Who wouldn’t love the chance to wander from country to country meeting new people and experiencing new things? Backpacking through Europe is a great way to spend your summer if that’s what you’re hoping to get out of it. Of course you can visit cities that are popular with college students: Florence, Interlaken and the like. But consider going off the beaten path to cities such as Prague or Budapest. Maybe you’ll try them all, because with low-cost airlines, you can fly from one country to the next without breaking the bank. Stay in hostels to get the most out of your experience and have something to write home about.
June, July and August are fabulous months to visit Iceland because the weather is great – mild and comfortable. Summer is tourist season, so if you’re looking for peace and quiet, this may not be for you. Iceland has much to offer, especially if you’re the outdoors type. Go ice climbing or glacier hiking, as well as regular hiking – though be warned: that’s no easy task in this mountainous terrain. If you want to relax more than anything, Iceland has warm water pools in every town that’ll help ease your stress. Make sure you bring an eye-mask; it doesn’t actually get dark during the summer in Iceland.