Everything you need to know about spring break

Anna Ewart

Each year, thousands of American students descend upon beaches, cities and other popular travel destinations.

With the University’s spring break less than a week away, one might wonder where students are going and what they’ll be doing during that elusive week off.

Where are students vacationing this year?

THE NUMBERS

100,000 young Americans travel to Mexico each year
2,500 Americans are arrested abroad each year
700 students are participating in the Pay it Forward Tour
50% of the packages STA Travel sold were to Jamaica

Beach destinations are always popular for spring breakers. Each year, more than 100,000 young Americans travel to Mexico alone, according to the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Amanda Webb, spokeswoman for STA Travel’s North American Branch, said Acapulco and Cancun are consistently top destinations for spring break. However, places like the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica are becoming more popular because they offer more than just partying, she said.

Meghan Monigold, manager of the STA Travel in Coffman Union, said about half of the spring break packages they sold this year were to Jamaica.

Although STA usually facilitates more international travel, Webb said popular destinations within the United States include Miami and South Padre Island, Texas.

American Airlines spokesman Tim Wagner said in an e-mail that ski trips are also popular for spring break.

Are students going on alternative spring break trips?

University students have options when it comes to alternative spring break trips – one that takes students to offbeat destinations to do community service – this year.

This year, the Learning Abroad Center is offering an alternative spring break program in Peru.

Students participating in the program will spend eight days in Lima, Peru. There, they’ll work at an orphanage that houses more than 600 children and teenagers.

University junior Leigh Kirschner, who is going on the trip, said she considered going on a traditional spring break, but found out about this at the last minute.

“I haven’t been able to volunteer as much as I would have hoped now that I’ve gotten to college,” she said. “People just don’t even think to do that over spring break.”

For the fifth year in a row, University students will participate in the Pay it Forward Tour, an alternative spring break trip that takes students across the country on a bus. For eight days, they’ll do community service in cities across the country.

Students Today Leaders Forever, which began as a student group at the University, created the trip. STLF co-executive director Brian Peterson said about 160 University students have signed up for the trip – more than any other year.

There are 13 college chapters of STLF nationwide, and more than 700 students will be participating, Peterson said.

“There’s a lot of students excited about making a difference,” he said.

What should you know before you go?

on the web

For more information, go to https://travelregistration.state.gov/ ibrs/ui.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs, there are several things students should do before traveling abroad for spring break.

All students traveling abroad by air should have a valid passport and a visa if required. Passport cards, which became available in February, are only valid for travel by land and sea to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda.

The bureau also recommends all students register their trip at the State Department Web site so they can be contacted in case of emergency.

It’s also not a bad idea for students to read up on the country they’ll be visiting. That way, they’ll be aware of local laws and customs.

According to the bureau, more than 2,500 Americans are arrested abroad each year, many for alcohol and narcotics related charges.

What can you expect when you get to the airport?

on the web

For more information, go to www.mspairport.com/msp/ parking/realtime.aspx.

Students going on trips should get to the airport earlier than usual.

Pat Hogan, spokesman for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, said spring break is one of the busiest times at MSP. It’s not just because of students, Hogan said, but because many Minnesotans vacation at this time of year as well.

“Because of the climate here, February through April tend to be very busy with people who are trying to get some sunshine,” he said. “In general, this is not nationally a very busy time for air travel.”

Airports in destination cities may be busy as well.

Students should arrive earlier than normal to compensate for long lines and parking constraints.

“There are people this time of year traveling who aren’t necessarily frequent travelers so they may not be as aware of the security regulations or as quick at maneuvering through the security check points,” Hogan said.

According to MSP, parking ramps at Lindberg Terminal have been filling up recently.

Students going in and out of Lindberg can park at the Humphrey Terminal and take the light rail. They can also check parking availability at MSP’s Web site.