Melanie Teater can consider herself among the lucky few this spring break: The University of Colorado student will be vacationing in Cancun next week.
But life is not a beach for most college students this spring break as a new survey shows the recession is grounding more students, keeping them from exotic vacations.
Forty-six percent of the more than 1,100 college students polled said they plan to stay at home this spring. That’s up from 37 percent who responded the same way in a 2008 survey, according to findings from a poll conducted by OnCampus Research, which helps companies better understand the college market.
The survey, which was released this month by the National Association of College Stores, shows that the No. 1 reason students aren’t traveling is because they cant afford to go anywhere, with 40 percent saying they’re simply too broke. Another 20 percent said they have to work, and 18 percent said they want to spend time with family and friends.
With CU on spring break next week, Teater said she’ll be splitting her time off, spending half of it at home in Houston with her family and the other half with friends travelling to Mexico.
“I asked my parents for money and they said, ‘OK,'” said Teater, while attending a recent spring break fair on the Boulder campus.
The fair — intended to help students plan safe spring breaks — screened students for alcohol problems, provided “staycation” ideas for students on tight budgets, and gave safe sex advice.
When planning spring break trips, the new survey shows that college students were prudent about their budgets. Forty-four percent of respondents chose cheaper destinations; 29 percent chose a location they could drive to, to avoid booking flights; and 71 percent paid for the trip with money they earned.
Matt Scriven — sales director with ParadiseParties.com, which books hotel and party packages for spring breakers — said domestic trips increase as the economy tanks.
Trips to Panama City in Florida and South Padre Island in Texas are huge this year, he said.
“They can get there for under $500,” Scriven said.
OnCampus Research conducted a separate survey late last year that showed 85 percent of college students cut back on spending because of the recession.
Lauren Karsh, a CU senior from Denver, said she’ll by saving money next week by using her ski pass that gives her access to five mountains.
“I’m going to take advantage of spring skiing for a week,” she said.
CU senior Matt Cole has been fundraising for his spring break trip.
The physiology student will travel to Honduras with Medical Brigades for a volunteer trip, setting up clinics and providing free health care to those living in poverty. Many of the patients have unusually high levels of water-borne diseases, tooth decay, chronic respiratory illnesses and other preventable epidemics that can be improved by delivering public health messages, organizers say.
Cole said his trip will cost about $1,500, and the spring breakers have also been holding charity dodgeball tournaments and other fundraisers to make the trip possible.
Instead of a spring break vacation, CU freshman Ashley Friedland said she’ll be journey home to Southern California to spend time with her family and her boyfriend.
“I’m going to Disneyland,” she said.