Spiraling gas and food prices have made summer vacation plans a little bleak this year, but take heart. Here's a unique way to pack more fun - for fewer dollars - into your summer getaway.
The secret is to book a dorm room instead of a hotel room. Sound crazy? Well, it's not. Many private colleges and universities offer lodgings on the cheap when students are on break.
A small, liberal arts college in Prescott, Arizona, for example, charges $55 per night for a dorm room that includes kitchen privileges, simple furnishings and proximity to the area's town center and bus line. Reduced rates are available for long term stays.
In addition to community colleges, trade schools such as Embry Riddle and DeVry Institute often have dorm rooms for rent; check their websites or call the toll free number and ask for the conference services department. Don't overlook retreat centers operated by churches or non-profit organizations, too. For instance, a Catholic retreat house in the college town of Flagstaff, AZ, has individual rooms with kitchen privileges for as low as $20 per night.
While you're saving on hotel costs, you can also save on meals by cooking a simple breakfast or packing your own lunch, using the kitchen provided. Save your pennies for a splurge dinner out at a nice restaurant - without guilt!
Most colleges require you to bring your own linens, towels and personal items. And while many offer the use of a kitchen, some do not; call ahead to check.
For more information, do a Google search under "colleges and universities" and the town's name you'd like to visit, or call the city's Chamber of Commerce for a directory of educational facilities.