Spring break conjures visions of 24/7 booze-filled partying in warm, sandy climes. But the cost! Flights and hotel can eat up most of a poor student's budget, leaving little left over for drinks, dining, tickets to DJ events, nightclub entrance fees, and so on. Renting an apartment or condo for several days with BFFs, though, can save frugal vacationers a bundle.
Cheapism.com identified 10 cheap spring break rentals in popular destinations. These lodgings meet several criteria: renters have full run of the place; the unit can accommodate at least four people; kitchens are fully equipped; and the location is within easy walking or driving distance of attractions. The nightly rate is no more than $35 per person (before taxes and fees). We checked rates for a three-night stay, March 1-4; by press time, some listings may already be booked during that period. Regardless, these are good representations of the offerings in each area.
MIAMI: $111.50/PERSON FOR 4 PEOPLE
Graced with warm beaches, a lively nightclub scene, plentiful bars, and tens of thousands of spring breakers during February and March, Florida is the place to be. For $99 a night, plus a $100 cleaning fee and $49 property damage fee, vacationers heading to Miami can spend three nights in a recently renovated one-bedroom, one-bath apartment located a block from South Beach and close to evening entertainment. For a break from crowded beaches, take a dip in the pool.
TYBEE ISLAND, GEORGIA: $63/PERSON FOR 8 PEOPLE
Florida isn't the only place with enticing coastal towns and islands for a four-day trip. Georgia's Tybee Island is "Orange Crush" territory, where thousands of Savannah State University students gather every year for spring break. For $125 a night, plus a $75 cleaning fee and $54 service fee to Airbnb, you can stay close to the beach, pier, shops, and bars in a three-bedroom, two-bath condo on the island's south end. Catch a sunrise on the beach and a sunset by the river, a short walk away.
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, MEXICO: $60/PERSON FOR 4 PEOPLE
If you're craving a pina colada or margarita, head to Playa del Carmen, Mexico, for a three-night stay. Relax on the quiet beach fronting the Caribbean, give snorkeling a try, and check out the local tourist scene. For $70 a night, plus a $30 cleaning fee (and refundable $200 damage deposit), you get a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment that's a two-minute drive to the beach or five-minute ride with the complimentary bikes. Nightlife, centered at Playa Del Carmen Centro and 5th Avenue, is a quick drive away.
SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, TEXAS: $98/PERSON FOR 4 PEOPLE
Beach lovers flock to South Padre Island, located on the southern tip of Texas. It offers toasty, tropical weather courtesy of the Gulf of Mexico. This resort town is less costly than others, as nightlife is limited, but there are 34 miles of beautiful white sand beaches and no shortage of bars. For $100 a night, plus a $50 cleaning fee, $42 fee collected by Airbnb, and refundable $200 security deposit, you can stay three nights in this one-bedroom, one-bath condo. It sleeps four, features a patio overlooking the pool, and lies a few steps from the beach, restaurants, and bars.
LAS VEGAS: $86/PERSON FOR 4 PEOPLE
The lack of a beach doesn't diminish the spring break appeal of Vegas, with its scores of nightclubs, DJ parties, and round-the-clock casino action. Hotel suites go for a couple hundred dollars a night, but you can rent a two-bedroom, one-bath apartment for $115 a night, invite along a few friends, and split the cost of a three-night stay. The unit is a short walk to the Stratosphere Casino and a two-minute walk to the Strip.
PANAMA CITY BEACH, FLORIDA: $82/PERSON FOR 6 PEOPLE
Think outside the Miami/South Beach box and make Panama City Beach on the west coast of Florida your spring break destination for a three-night trip. There are plenty of concerts and tiki bars for partygoers and stretches of beach along the Gulf of Mexico. A two-bedroom, two-bath beachfront condo with a balcony view of the water (and the occasional dolphin!) goes for $164 a night.
NASSAU, BAHAMAS: $115/PERSON FOR 4 PEOPLE
The Bahamas are a popular tropical getaway for couples and families, as well as students on break. The many all-inclusive resorts and hotels offer attractive packages, but you can book a three-night rental for far less -- and evade the vacationing hordes. A two-bedroom, one-bath villa in Nassau will set you back $120 a night, plus a $100 cleaning fee (and refundable $250 damage deposit). This spring break rental is in a quiet neighborhood that's a short walk to the beach and local restaurants and abuts a botanical garden.
ACAPULCO, MEXICO: $110/PERSON FOR 6 PEOPLE
In this famous spring break hot spot, there are booze cruise tours, pool parties featuring DJs and contests, and huge clubs that blast music all day from impressive sound systems. You could recover from a hangover next to other resting partygoers at an all-inclusive resort or save some money by staying three nights at this seventh-floor spring break rental for $180 a night, plus a $50 cleaning fee and $71 service fee to Airbnb. The unit features three bedrooms, three baths, a balcony view of the ocean, and access to a pool.
MANHATTAN BEACH, CALIFORNIA: $117.50/PERSON FOR 4 PEOPLE
Everyone knows about Santa Monica and Venice Beach, but consider Manhattan Beach for an inexpensive spring break rental. This quaint beach town insulates you from the craziness of Los Angeles but posits you in the midst of shops, bars, and boutiques, not to mention restaurants dishing out fish tacos and other Mexican delights. The nightly rate on this two-bedroom, one-bath apartment, a seven-minute walk to the beach, is $140, plus a $50 service fee for Airbnb. There's a nearby market that stocks necessary provisions for a three-night stay.
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA: $96/PERSON FOR 4 PEOPLE
Daytona Beach is another Florida spot that draws many thousands of students in search of spring break excitement. This one-bedroom, one-bath oceanfront rental, which offers views from the kitchen, living room, and balcony, goes for $95 a night, plus a $55 cleaning fee, $42.50 in taxes, and a refundable $200 damage deposit. The beach isn't the only attraction within walking distance: Stroll down Main Street and over to the Ocean Walk Entertainment Center for dining and nighttime fun.