?When school let out and spring break began, students took part in an age-old tradition. Beginning with the Greeks and Romans, people have celebrated the arrival of spring.
Spring signaled the season of awakening and was historically celebrated in tandem with the veneration of Dionysus or Bacchus: the Greek and Roman gods of wine.
Last week, students celebrated the arrival of spring by taking a break from classes and trading time reading textbooks for time tanning in the sun.
Though this year spring break plans were affected by the economy; students modified vacation plans to take advantage of less expensive options.
“I’m going to Vegas,” sophomore public relations major Michael Shather said. “We got this great deal on a bus and hotel package we found online for $50 a person. The fee includes round-trip travel on the bus, tour guides and transportation to the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon.”
According to the online travel agency Expedia, flights from the U.S. to the Caribbean have dropped as much as 20 percent. Travel to Mexico has also been affected by safety concerns over Mexico’s increasingly violent drug cartels. Travel to the usually popular spring break Mecca of Cancun is down 22 percent from last year.
This year, many students are vacationing inside the United States., taking advantage of the deals airlines are offering.
The average spring break costs $1,100 for a seven-night trip, according to STA Travel, an online travel agency specializing in student discounts.
But a flight within the U.S. can be substantially cheaper; a flight from Los Angeles to New York is as little as $300 according to STA travel.
According to Expedia, spring break flights to Orlando, Los Angeles and New York all jumped more than 25 percent this year.
The Travel Channel ranks Panama city, Florida as the number one destination for students this year.
But not everyone vacationed long-distance.
“I’m spending the week at my aunt’s house in Paris, California,” freshman Angelica Williams said. “We usually just go see family for spring break.” Williams is a journalism major.
“I’m not going anywhere at all,” senior social science major Jacqueline Loya said. “I’m just staying at home.”
This year the popularity of service-oriented trips was noticeable. Colleges like Harvard offered trips for as little as $300 to spend a week serving in a soup kitchen, renovating churches or building homes around the country.
Harvard’s alternative spring break program reported a 90 percent increase in applications this year.
Megan Sebestyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.