(News Press) -- The sunshine and beaches are free, but spring break is not.
Out-of-state spring breakers say they're planning to spend around $1,000 this week in Southwest Florida.
The Lani Kai Island Resort's beachfront is spring break central on Fort Myers Beach, crowded with students hailing from snow-covered Michigan and Indiana. For many spring breakers, a grand is more than worth it if that means escaping below-freezing temperatures and getting the perfect tan.
"We're just happy to be out of that weather," Jillian Longton, 21, a University of Michigan student who came to Fort Myers Beach with friends Erin Hescott, 21, and Paige Hamay, 21.
Between flights, hotel, food, drinks and other spring break must-have experiences, the girls expect to shell out around $1,300 each for the trip.
"It was about $800 per person between airfare and staying (at the Lani Kai) for six nights," Hescott said. "We've just been paying for food and drinks and stuff, so I assume it'll be around $1,200-$1,300."
Hescott said it took her about two months to save money for the trip.
While flying may have been the more desirable option, many students took the cheaper route and drove nearly 20 hours to Southwest Florida.
"I think we've spent about $350 or so so far," said Ball State University student Katie Haney, 22. "It wasn't too bad,"
Others came with full wallets, and they're willing to spend whatever it takes to have fun.
"I was prepared to spend about three grand this spring break," said Ball State student Cody Zimmer, who drove here from Indiana. "This is the best weather. A lot of our friends are in Panama Beach and it's 65 degrees there.
"Totally worth it."
Zimmer and Haney join about 50 Ball State students who made the trek to Southwest Florida.
Some were luckier than others and managed to get on their parents' good sides to afford the trip.
"My girlfriend's parents actually paid for the trip," said Nick Beard, 22, from Valley State University in Michigan. "All I had to pay for was my airfare, which was like $300."
Beard predicts that alcohol will be the priciest expense of the week and averaged about $70 a day because of expensive drinks at the resort, which doesn't allow outside beverages on its property.
"How much we spend depends on the alcohol intake," joked Beard's girlfriend, Mary Smokovitz.