With the windows down, the music turned up, and miles of highway laid out in front of you, a road trip can be an exciting way to bond with friends and get a little change of scenery from the everyday without dropping a ton of money on air travel. So, if you're looking to get off campus for a little relaxation, check out these spring break road trips for travelers on a budget. From the desert to the beach, these road trips will take you and your spring break crew through some funky and unconventional places, and provide loads of photo ops and memories, which are really what spring break is all about.
They say that getting there is half the fun, which is why all of these road trips are three cities long. I'm what you might call a veteran road tripper. When I was a kid, my parents had a pop-up camper that we would take to see the world — or at least the various campgrounds of the American South and Mid-Atlantic states. Road trips are all about embracing the unknown. When I moved to California, my boyfriend and I packed all of our worldly belongings into a 1998 Toyota Avalon with 200,000 miles already on the odometer and hit the road. The 2,500-mile journey was filled with surprises from learning all about the odd liquor laws in Arkansas to the treachery of nighttime thunderstorms in the pitch black New Mexican desert.
Basically, road trips are a great opportunity to pretend you're an 18th century pirate on the high seas, so gas up and set sail! Aaargh...
1. Asheville — Greenville — Charleston
Asheville, North Carolina has a buzzing art scene and more beer breweries per capita than any city in the nation. From the artsy enclave in the Blue Ridge Mountains, travel south to Greenville, South Carolina, where you will feel like you stepped into a perfectly manicured set of a CW show. Greenville is where you will find all of your friends attending Furman University with its pristine Swan Lake. Ask a girl in a sun dress where to find the best house parties during your stay. Then east you'll drive to Charleston, a soul food hub and the perfect place to unwind on a sprawling front porch. Airbnbs are plentiful and priced to sell in this springtime tour of the South.
543 miles round trip
2. Los Angeles — Palm Springs — Sedona
If you're studying in the LA area, hop in the car and drive East. Palm Springs is a shockingly inexpensive place to find a swimming pool or hot springs to soak in. Show up early for brunch at Cheeky's before heading even deeper into the desert to marvel at the red rock formations in Sedona, Arizona. If you get hungry after hiking in the canyons, there's a Cracker Barrel close by in Flagstaff!
963 miles round
3. New York City — Cooperstown — Waterbury
Beer lovers, buckle your seat belts because this road trip is going to take you to some serious breweries. Head north from Manhattan to Cooperstown, New York, home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Brewery Ommegang. Then keep your ship pointed north as you make the pilgrimage to Alchemist Brewery in Waterbury, Vermont — home of the world famous and exceedingly difficult to acquire Heady Topper. You can even stop by Yale to say hello on your way back!
732 miles round trip
4. New Orleans — Austin — Laguna Madre
This musical road trip will fill your ears with the best that the country's most enthusiastic music scenes have to offer. After you see all of the shows, head down to Laguna Madre for a little Gulf Coast beach action (with ridiculously affordable Airbnb options all over the place).
1573 miles round trip
5. Boulder — Fort Collins — Yellowstone National Park
Journey through the wild west from the University of Colorado to pick up your friends from Colorado State and proceed to the camping trip of a lifetime in Yellowstone before heading back to Boulder again. You'll get the best of the Colorado party school experience followed by a head-clearing date with nature.
1089 miles round trip
6. Myrtle Beach — Wilmington — Atlantic City
Myrtle Beach is a hilarious spring break location filled with cheap hotels, miles of beaches with warm Atlantic water, and plenty of parties to keep even the most seasoned spring breaker busy. Head north to Wilmington, North Carolina, where you should catch a show at the Brooklyn Arts Center at St. Andrews, a church that has been converted into a concert venue, and, yes, it has a bar. Then strap in for a trip to Atlantic City where you can take in all of the sights, sounds, and beverages of the infamous boardwalk.
1260 miles round trip
No matter where you end up for Spring Break 2016, be safe, wear sunscreen, and don't take any wooden nickels.