Just because you’re in college and on a budget, doesn’t mean you can’t take a vacation. College is the time to make memories, it’s the time to set out and explore the world around you. While tuition, living expenses, and textbook prices are going up each year it may seem impossible that you’ll ever be able to afford a vacation while in college but there are a few options. The most popular one is a road trip right here in the U.S.
Here is a list of some of the best…and cheapest places to explore no matter your interest:
Havasu Fall, Arizona
- This breathtaking waterfall exists in a remote region of the Grand Canyon and can only be accessed through a 10-mile hike. The entry fee to the park is relatively low and the overnight camping fee is even lower.
Pacific Coast Highway, California
- This coastal highway, also known as Highway 1, hits many of California’s major cities such as San Francisco and Santa Monica. As if a trip to these cities is not exciting enough, the drive itself is extremely scenic. To save money on this trip, try booking cheap hotels or even stay for free at hostels
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
- Why go snowboarding when you can go sandboarding! Located in Southern Colorado, Great Sand Dunes National Park is a unique destination that offers a variety of activities. Businesses right outside the park offer the rental of boards, sleds and even skis all specially made for the sand. This means that the rental and entrance fees are the only costs for a fun-filled day of surfing the dunes.
Panama City, Florida
- While Florida is the hot spot for college spring breakers, it can be just as great during the off-season. There will be cheaper hotels and fewer crowds then too and Panama City in the fall is still warm and the sun is shining. There are many vacation rental properties along the beach during the off-season that you and friends can rent for as low as $50 per night.
Rainbow Springs State Park, Florida
- This off-the-beaten-path location is perfect for water lovers. It offers kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving and tubing as just a few of the many activities to enjoy in the crystal-clear water of the Rainbow River.
- This is a great city to walk around, see the sights, and transform yourself into another time and place. Also, if you’re a foodie this is the place to be for southern cuisine.
New Orleans, Louisiana
- Full of iconic bars, local jazz musicians and interesting cuisine, there is never a dull moment on Bourbon Street. Every carnival season, an enormous Mardi Gras celebration takes place in the bars and clubs along the French Quarter and Bourbon Street. Even if it’s not Mardi Gras, New Year’s Eve, or Halloween, New Orleans is a fun place at any time of the year. It’s an incredibly unique place in the U.S. that’s full of fascinating history, intriguing culture, delicious food, and a constantly buzzing nightlife.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
- Albuquerque’s annual Balloon Fiesta is only $10 and once inside the fiesta there is shopping and delicious food along with unique sights. If you can’t make it to Albuquerque in October, when the Balloon Fiesta takes place, there are plenty of other affordable places to explore. From Sandia Peak to Old Town, Albuquerque offers something for everyone with hotels averaging $79 a night
South Padre Island, Texas
- Renting a condo is the way to go in South Padre. The cost of renting a condo can be very low if you split it among several people for your spring break or summer vacation.
Smoky Mountains, Tennessee
- This fall break pack your bags and head to these beautiful mountains. Due to the stunning scenery and fall foliage, the Smoky Mountains are a must see this fall. Try renting a cheap cabin with friends or camping at Smoky Bear Campgrounds to save money.
Not only are road trips much more affordable, but they allow for more spontaneity and exploration. There are several hidden gems just waiting to be explored, so grab some friends, put your favorite round trip playlist on, and go discover the world around you!