The early bird gets the worm, but can the same be said for travelers wanting to take a spring break vacation? If your family is planning to get away this spring, but also hoping to avoid the beaches full of college students, how should you schedule your plans? We asked Mark Kahler, About.com’s Budget Travel Expert, to give us his best affordable spring break advice.
NetCredit: If you’re looking to save money on your spring break getaway, is it better to book early or look for last-minute deals?
Mark Kahler: Much depends upon the destination. If it is a popular place, it’s best to book well in advance. The best deals will go quickly, leaving either high-priced alternatives or low-end accommodations. If you’re not going to a popular destination, booking about 45 days in advance is probably sufficient.
Can travelers save money by taking their spring break vacation earlier in the year, before the college students hit the beaches?
Empty seats and empty rooms both present the possibility for lower prices. Again, this can vary by destination. If it is a popular spring break place, it pays to be either well ahead of the crowds or well behind them.
What sites/resources do you recommend readers use if they’re looking for spring break deals?
I recommend some basic searches to determine baseline prices. Look at a service such as Kayak.com that searches multiple sources and provides cost options. It’s also a good idea to look at weekly deals pages or special offer pages from the airlines.
Another good idea is to seek out coupon codes that can be used for discounts on hotels and dining options.
What destinations would you suggest readers check out if they’re looking for an affordable and relaxing spring break getaway that isn’t a college student destination?
Spring break provides a great opportunity to visit a large city and explore it over a number of days. Look for local passes that will provide pre-paid admissions to major attractions for one price. The passes allow you to skip admission lines, saving time. If a city visit isn’t your idea of a relaxing getaway, why not visit a national park? Check with the park to see if all areas are open at that time of year.
If you want the beach but not the wild crowds, look at economical beach locations such as the Mississippi Gulf Coast instead of the busier places. The same is true of ski trips. Look for the lesser-known resorts instead of the big names. The small places are often more rewarding at much lower prices.
Do you have any other general tips our readers can use to save money for or during spring break?
- If you find an affordable airfare or hotel, book it. Waiting for a better price usually results in disappointment.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to make arrangements. Although some deals do come at the eleventh hour, prices tend to rise more than fall in the final days before peak season.
- Spring break is a great time to practice voluntourism. Find a worthy charity and see if you can combine a few hours of volunteer work each day with your travels.
- If you like Europe, spring break is a good time to go. The weather is improving, but the expensive summer season has not yet begun. Airfares and hotel deals are easier to find.