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Cool Spring Break Destinations You Can Visit Without a Passport in 2012

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Rosarito Beach, Baja Norte, Mexico

Rosarito Beach, Baja, Mexico

© Kathleen Crislip

What's Up With Spring Break and Passports:

Passport rules requiring 'em for air travel back from Mexico (PASS cards work for land travel) and the Caribbean (excepting US territories) may seem limiting to spring break plans. And it takes up to two months to get a passport, though you can rush a passport quicker. However, if you don't have one, know that lots o' other students don't, either -- meaning there'll be action aplenty happening in spring break destinations not requiring passports (some very cool options, too). Let's review:

Get current passport news.

Where to Go for Spring Break Without a Passport:

Plenty of tropical paradises are your pearl for spring break without a passport: you can drive to Mexico with a PASS card, for instance (which is why Baja's Rosarito Beach will see traffic again this year, as will Mazatlan). Fly to the Caribbean's colonial Puerto Rico or US Virgin Islands' sugary shores without a passport. Hawaii is a US state; Florida, of course, is as near as a road trip or a cheapie student airfare. And if you seek snow rather than sand, North America has some truly great ski resorts (we've rounded up those welcoming spring breakers). Let's check 'em all out:

1. Drive to Mexico:

Driving in Mexico is a snap; do understand it before you go. A party bus to Mazatlan may be a hotter idea than easy-to-reach Rosarito Beach in Baja; Puerto Penasco, south of Tucson, is no spring break playpen but is a friendly beach town with fine fish tacos.

Note: You can cruise to Matamoros and Nuevo Progresso from Texas's South Padre Island, but tread carefully in that neck of Mexico. Cabo San Lucas in Baja is not a short drive easily doable over spring break.

2. Go Caribbean:

Yep, it's possible to go to the Caribbean for spring break without a passport. Key is understanding US territories -- US possessions, including the Commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands (that's St. Croix) in the Caribbean, are a part of the US. You no more need a passport for travel to Puerto Rico or the USVI than you do to go to Rhode Island. Interestingly, the drinking age in Puerto Rico is 18.

3. Try Hawaii:

A trip to Hawaii may sound like a ho-hum vacation geezer-style (you were last there with your parents, right?), but parts of these pretty islands are about way more than tourists in leis (and those do have their kinda cool place, actually). Kauai is a wonderland with some black sand beaches and surf that's safer to watch, and Maui has long been a haven for maverick happenings. Honolulu may seem like high rises with sand, but it's a cheap place to base while you island hop.

4. Spring Break Snowboard / Ski Trips in North America:

We've collected the best North American ski resorts for spring break ski trips with the big question answered: do they want you? Check out a collection of ski towns from Colorado to Canada to which you can drive (meaning no passport needed, though you need a PASS card or high tech driver's license) to drive into Canada without a passport) or even take an Amtrak train. These ski towns are big enough for spring breakers to spread out in.

5. Spring Break in Florida:

Florida's always where the boys and girls are, and it's really just a cheap flight away, or Amtrak will take you almost to Panama City and give you a student discount, too. Daytona Beach -- nah. Do consider South Beach and Miami (tres hot this year), Key West, Haulover Beach, and Clearwater Beach, but you'll find the biggest party in Panama City and best scene in South Beach... and don't even bother with unfriendly Fort Lauderdale.

6. Texas Style:

South Padre Island hosts spring break parties as big as Texas on a breezy bit of sand on Padre Island near Corpus Christi, and you can hop down to Mexico for the night with a PASS card. Galveston is an interesting spot to base, and the Hill Country near Austin pulls a few spring breakers. Read more:

7. Myrtle Beach:

This South Carolina oceanside town is all about the party when spring break rolls around -- you'll find action inside and some out with sand, sea, and a few key clubs (the only Senor Frog's this side of Mexico). Not that much hot sun, though: expect temps around 70. Expect almost nothin' students, too -- spring break season is the off season for the families who frequent Myrtle Beach, mostly in summer.

Getting There in the Lower 48:

Get student discounts for those US flights with outfits like STA (they'll beat any student airfare price) or even a standby fare on Airtran -- students 18-24 only. Amtrak offers student discounts in the US, and what could be more American than taking a Greyhound bus (and at a student discount)? Well, a road trip, perhaps. Learn how to travel well and for less in the US of A:

All About Spring Break

Get info on domestic and international discounts on student travel at spring break, where to go, what to do and who's going to be there. Compare some spring break deals, too.

Worth Considering

Dr. Stephen Leatherman (aka Dr. Beach), beach expert, reknowned author and professor of environmental studies at Florida International University (FIU), annually dishes out the gritty goods on the US's best beaches and rewards the country's sweetest sand with a coveted spot on his yearly top ten list. Mixin' up the beach medicine on the list of best US beaches are sweet sands from Maui to Cape Cod -- check it out:

Enjoy your trip, wherever your travel may take you!

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