With thoughts of sunglasses, tanning oil and swimsuits in mind, many students on campus have already arranged plans for Spring Break.

“It”s been very busy here,” said Carol Seymour, a travel agent at STA Travel. “I would say a fourth of the people coming in here are University students interested in spring break.”

STA Travel, like most agencies, offers a number of packages geared towards cash-strapped students desiring a trip south for sun and sand. While most of these packages vary by destination and agency, most include airfare and lodging at rates much lower than those offered by commercial airlines.

“If you”re looking for airfare and lodging at a good price, a package is the best deal,” Seymour said.

Among the most popular packages are those for Cancun, Jamaica, Acapulco and the Bahamas. But Europe is also a hot destination.

“We”ve booked a lot of Europe trips here,” said Lindsay Adelsheim, a travel agent at Council Travel. “London, Paris, Italy, Spain and even Prague are very popular. This is the off-season over there, so prices are very good.”

And many students are booking packages that include upscale lodging and are not necessarily all-inclusive .

“Students are doing this because they don”t want to go where they know a lot of high school students will be,” said Connie Pierce, owner of Travel Centre. “They do not want to be in the same area.”

Most packages start as low as $500 per person, without tax. Packages are always purchased by a group of people, usually starting with at least four. But packages cost a great deal less than buying a ticket through a commercial airline and making lodging reservations yourself.

Travelocity.com, a website that claims to offer the lowest fares available, showed the cheapest ticket to Cancun during the University”s Spring Break to be $676.92. In contrast, STA Travel offers a package to Cancun including airfare and lodging for $499 per person with four people to a room, not including tax.

For students not interested in getting a packaged deal, one alternative is the purchase of the International Student Identification card.

Available at most travel agencies for $22, this card allows students to get deep discounts, and not just during the spring season.

A single round trip ticket from Detroit Metropolitan Airport to Munich, Germany, for a one-week stay during the last week of July, via Delta Airlines, currently costs $1,462. Using the International Student Identification card, the same ticket would cost $841.

Despite the savings, many students are not buying the card, nor are they going to agencies to make travel arrangements. “For Spring Break, I”m going to Los Angeles,” said RC sophomore Taylor Simpson. “I found a very cheap ticket on the Internet and I thought it was pretty easy.”

Seymour said most students interested in Spring Break packages began coming to STA Travel right after Thanksgiving. However, most agencies still have many packages available, to both Europe and the tropics.

“There”s still time, but I would urge students interested to come in as soon as possible,” Adelsheim said.

Pierce advises students to use caution with spring break packages. “Before leaving, I would call all the companies involved and verify the information,” Pierce said. “If it really sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

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