5 Ways to save money on your family's spring break vacation
If you’re a parent, your spring break trip looks a lot different than it did in your college days. You’re likely less concerned about the club scene and more concerned about whether the resort that you’re considering has a kids’ club that serves a wholesome lunch, preferably organic!
And then, there’s the issue of price, which of course, is based on supply and demand. Lots of American families want to travel between mid-March and mid-April. And the airlines, hotels, resorts, theme parks, and cruise lines know it. Getting a good deal on that all-inclusive beach resort is darn near impossible.
To save money on a spring break vacation, we parents need to “zig” when we’re expected to “zag;” we have to think beyond the obvious destinations. When we do that, we’ll not only save money, but we may just have a more memorable experience as a family.
Photo courtesy: Natalya Zaritskaya
1/Stay in a city
While most people head to a beach or theme park during spring break, consider a concrete jungle adventure; in other words, head to one of the USA’s major cities. In general, you’ll find hotel rates are lower than in the summer. Having a hard time choosing? KidTripster has developed family-friendly city guides that identify the Top 10 Plays (activities), Top 10 Stays (hotels), and Top 10 Eats (restaurants) in urban areas around the country. In most cases, these guides have been written by parent-journalists who actually live in those cities, so you’ll benefit from their inside knowledge.
2/Visit a national park
In the USA, we’re blessed with perhaps the finest national park system in the world. And you don’t have to wait until summer to explore it. In fact, some national parks - like Death Valley and Joshua Tree - are better explored during winter and spring. If you really want to leave the crowds and peak pricing behind, head to a national park that’s still blanketed in snow, like Yosemite, Yellowstoneor Grand Teton. You’ll feel like you have the park and its immense beauty all to yourself.
3/Head to the mountains
Even though most people pack their skis and snowboards away in March, there’s still powder to be had at many ski resorts, especially in Colorado, Utah, northern California, and Canada’s Whistler. You’ll find great deals on spring lift tickets and lodging. Pick a resort that also offers plenty of activities off the slope to fill out your week. For ideas, check out KidTripster’s recommended ski resorts for families, including the West’s Top 10.
Photo courtesy: Julia Vandenoever/Keystone Mountain Resort
4/Get out your passport
Most American family travel abroad either during the summer or the holidays. Instead, go during spring break. If you count the weekends, you’ll have at least 9 days. Plus, you could always pull the kids out of school a day or two early; let’s be honest, not a lot happens the Thursday or Friday before a break.
Where to go? The Caribbean will be especially affordable this year, as resorts try to entice guests back after the destructive hurricane season. Southeast Asia - Thailand and Cambodia - will be hot and humid, but peak crowds start to thin. Anywhere in Europe, you’ll find better rates for spring than summer, but the weather is more unpredictable. If you’re planning a visit to a large European capital, like London or Paris, you’ll likely spend a fair amount of times indoors anyway.
Photo courtesy: Finest Playa Mujeres
6/Plan ahead for next year
Ok, this advice won’t help you this year, but decide where you want to spend next spring break by November. Why? Because then you can take advantage of the best travel deals of the year on Cyber Monday. You’ll find deep discounts on both resorts and some international flights. For example, during this past November’s Cyber Monday sale, Air New Zealand sold tickets to the Cook Islands for half price! But the sale only lasted for that one day.
Editor Shellie Bailey-Shah and her family are headed to lesser-known Pinnacles and Channel Islands National Parks this spring break. Look for her reports to come.