Students cut back on spring break

BY JUSTIN SUGG | MARCH 11, 2009 7:17 AM

UI sophomore Kendall Kasik is going to Peru for spring break.

Peru, Ill.

In more prosperous years, UI students have fled the dreary and temperamental Midwest weather for warmer climates in exotic locations.

This year, however, students such as Kasik are reconsidering spending big bucks on traditional destinations and instead opting for alternatives.

Instead of taking a trip, she will returning to her Illinois hometown.

UI economics Professor John Fuller said even the perception of a recession is enough for people to reconsider their plans.

“This is more than a recession, and it’s hard to measure the overall impact now, but you would expect students to cutback,” he said.

Fuller, who specializes in transport policy and analysis, said though he’s witnessed a recent decline in airfare prices, the gloomy economic climate may be keeping some students from dropping cash on tickets.

For many people, expenses may ultimately be a deciding factor in planning, he said.

Cost was a consideration for UI freshmen Matt McCord and Ryan Grambo, who are going home to Cary, Ill., rather than embarking on a spring-break trip.

“It’s just too expensive,” McCord said.

And while some people are concerned about the economic situation, others are taking advantage of the recent decline in airfares. According to a recent report by Travelocity, plane ticket prices have dropped an average of $53 since last year.

Josh Riegelhaupt, a 19-year-old UI student, said he booked a round-trip flight to Arizona for a little over $180.

To cut back even more on costs, he said, he will stay with a friend for the entire week.

And cheap airfares aren’t the only thing students are taking advantage of.

Alison Kofmehl, a UI sophomore from Storm Lake, will drive to Chicago with a friend and spend the week with her friend’s brother.

“Driving is a lot cheaper,” she said. “We’re doing the downtown thing, touristy stuff.”

Part of the “downtown thing” involves attending a Black Hawks’ game in the box-seat section. Normally $200 a ticket, Alison said they paid only $50 because of a connection.

The economic decline has also led to a drop in gas prices — which have declined to nearly half of last year’s prices, according to GasBuddy.com, a website that tracks oil prices across the United States and Canada.

UI student T.J. Connors, from Naperville, Ill., is taking advantage of lower gas prices and driving instead of flying to Destin, Fla., over the break. He’ll split gas costs with friends — a “plus,” he said.

While some students are making economical break plans, Fuller said, it will be difficult to tell how significant the economy’s effect on spring break is until later this year.

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