Spring... Broke!?

Spring Break, so full of beautiful
opportunity or boozy mutiny, and enough
to rally students nationwide to arms.
Oh, how this sweet wealth of
Went broke.

That's right. All dried up. This year
thoughts pertaining to the mid-semester
recess have been replaced by the reality
of a worldwide recession instead. When
presented with the question as to what
constituted a successful spring break,
one Santa Monica College student stated,
"It's just a matter of getting away from
work. Having fun, doing new things."

Well that sounds like an attainable
goal. More significant still would be the
cost of this fun factor. So here are the
results of a search for ideas for making
the most of the upcoming week off;
breaking away from the books without
breaking the bank balance.

With the economy the way it is it would
probably be best to save that dreamy sixday
Spanish sojourn for another year.
"Not so," contends Keponi Elaisa,
Senior Travel Advisor at STA Travel in
Westwood, one of two branches in Los
Angeles of what is officially "the world's
largest student travel organization."
Elaisa believes that "for those who
can afford it, there's never actually been a
better time to travel, there are some great
deals out there." How great? There is
plenty that this branch has to offer.
"A cruise is a fun way to spend a couple
of days," the travel advisor suggested.
"We have an offer on a three day sail to
Ensenada for $300."

Hoping for a greater deal, the search
continued. And is it really a good idea
to be heading south of the border when
the US State Department recently warned
college students of a surge in drug-related
attacks and mayhem in Mexico?
"Cancun never really goes out of
style," said Elaisa. "Honestly though,
the weather's so great in L.A. at this
time of year that there's really no need
to travel."

True. But there's a sneaking suspicion
that Mexico's popularity with students
owes more to its legal drinking age than its temperate climate. Just a theory.
If you are determined to "break-away"
to the Mecca of college kids countrywide
then STA travel prices start at $300 for a
flight to Cancun, with hotels averaging
$150 a night. They were assuring that
for spring break that's very reasonable.
It also sounds to like a reason to stay in
the country. Your bank balance and your
liver will thank you.

So how far away must one go to "get
away from work?" Surely there are plenty
of possibilities closer to home that will
allow for that "miles away from math"

As chief proponent of this idea I
asked Dani Kando-Kaiser, Head of
Marketing at visitcalifornia.com, for
some inexpensive inspiration.
"Take a road trip up the coast," she
suggests. "Spilt the gas with a bunch of
friends and spend the time in the open
air; the beaches are great and the scenery
is stunning."

But what about the people who consider sand and sun to be anathema to fun? "Hit the slopes!" Dani proclaims. "At just $69 per person to stay in Big Bear during the week it's an excellent alternative to the bigger resorts in Colorado or Utah."
But if the mere mention of a snowboard
leaves you so bored, then how about
a trip to the opposite in topographical

Death Valley National Park describes
itself as "a superlative desert of streaming
sand dunes." Sounds like a Cancun
hangover, no alcohol necessary. And
at just $20 per vehicle for a seven-day
entry into the park, it certainly won't
break the budget.

What's more, for those really wanting
to get away, the Park offers over three
million acres of wilderness to explore.
Remote enough for you? Visitcalifornia.
com is a great resource for anyone
wanting some fresh suggestions for
daytrips or short vacations within the

Whatever your idea of a befitting "break," the website has a plethora of plans to satisfy all. For instance, did you
know the world's largest thermometer
resides in Baker, an hour east of Barstow?
The site suggests you visit it soon, "before it gets too hot."
And for those hodophobics amongst
you (that's a fear of travelling, by the
way) there are plenty of activities in a
town like L.A. to evoke that same "new
worldliness" wonderment.

Spend an evening strolling the Venice
Canals and imagine you're in Italy
without the Europeans. Or for those over
21 there is a complimentary "Scotch and Songs" evening at The Fondry on Melrose Avenue, on Sunday evenings, starting at 8 p.m. So, for absolutely free, you can
listen to new music and drink whisky
like you're ensconced in the environs
of bonnie Scotland, but with working
cell reception, and without bagpipes.

And who needs to watch girls claw their way toward the VIP enclosure at Coachella when the masterminds behind "Lucha VaVoom" have their new spectacle "Girlie Girl Catfight Show" at the El Rey Theatre. For only $19 a
ticket, viewers are treated to the likes of
"Cougar Woman and her cohort the NY
Knockout" getting mixed up in brawls,
burlesque and wrestling. "A new kind of
female wrestling," the website assuages
any sceptics, "the good kind."

For a more traditionally good and kind
endeavour, there is always the Volunteer
Center of Los Angeles.
Participants can fill in an application
indicating their interests and skills and the Center will assign an appropriate position. Even if your pockets are empty you can still utilize those helping hands.

Voluntary Coordinator Martha Ashcroft encourages students to check the website vcla.net to explore all the volunteering options they offer, from animal shelters to thrift stores. "It can be as little as one day and it makes for a very rewarding and memorable experience."

So there you have it - maybe this year you will actually remember with fondness the days of Spring Break. Unless of course you do make it to Cancun... In which case it's probably better to try and forget quite how much fun was consumed. If only Facebook
were as forgiving.