Think of winter’s chill as nature’s way of revving you up for spring break trips to warm and wonderful destinations. Whether you are a college student ready to party or a family seeking some fun and sun, plenty of options await.
Spring isn’t the cheapest time to travel, but if you pick your vacation destination with care, you don’t have to break the bank.
Keep reading to see some of the most popular spring break destinations, along with tips to help you save.
Beautiful blue water and tropical temperatures make Cancun the top international spring break destination. The dollar/peso exchange rate is good for American travelers these days. Meanwhile, the destination offers plenty of beaches, night clubs and excursions for adventurous travelers.
How to save: According to Skyscanner, Cancun is currently more affordable than a number of spring break destinations, including Cabo, Punta Cana and Honolulu. That makes the very act of picking Cancun a budget benefit. Save even more by ditching a hotel in favor of a timeshare condo. Roomier than hotels, timeshares come with fully equipped kitchens that offer you the option of eating in rather than hitting a restaurant.
Whether you’re heading out for some spring break fun with your significant other, the whole family or your best college buddies, Orlando offers a lot to love. It’s warm and sunny in late winter, and you’ll have plenty of options for adventure.
Orlando is known for its world-renowned theme parks. Its crown jewel is the Magic Kingdom, a Disney World destination exciting for visitors young and old. But you’ll find so many theme parks in Orlando that you could visit one a day. Plunge into the magic of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Laugh at the antics of dolphins at SeaWorld or visit I-Drive 360 to scream your way through the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye experience.
As an added benefit, Orlando is one of the more budget-friendly spring break options. In fact, the city made KAYAK’s list of the 10 most wallet-friendly destinations for 2018.
How to save: Get away in January or February rather than mid-March to save. If your spring break is happening in March, however, you can still save money by building in a full-day picnic trip to nearby Cocoa Beach. You’ll avoid theme park fees, as well as restaurant costs.
Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Clean, beautiful beaches draw families to Myrtle Beach for spring break. But that’s not all the fun this destination has to offer. You’ll also find amusement parks, outlet malls and more than 100 golf courses.
How to save: You can save big bucks just by picking Myrtle Beach for your trip. In fact, U.S. News & World Report ranks Myrtle Beach No. 1 on a list of the best cheap spring break destinations. Moreover, it’s ideal for families on a budget because of the many, low-cost entertainment options. If you want to save even more, stop by the Myrtle Beach Tourism Board. You’ll find useful coupons for attractions, hotels and eateries.
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Lush rainforests, active volcanoes and pristine beaches are just some of the features that make Costa Rica an unforgettable spring break setting. Instead of theme park characters, take photos of truly wild animals, like monkeys and jaguars. You can also enjoy big-city pleasures in the cosmopolitan capital of San José, then head to either the Atlantic or Pacific coast for some sand and sun.
How to save: Avoid car rental agencies at the airport, since they add a 12 percent charge to the usual rates. Instead, reserve your rental with a company located downtown.
South Padre Island, Texas
You might be surprised to learn that Texas is a favorite spring break destination for those seeking some beach action. But South Padre Island offers sparkling blue water, wide ribbons of beaches and eclectic lodging options. Plus, the water off South Padre is warm year round, so it’s perfect for swimming, kiteboarding and fishing.
How to save: Do your pocketbook a favor and leave your car behind. The island is small enough that you can navigate it on foot. Or use the free shuttle that whisks you around town.
Jamaica offers plenty for reggae lovers to celebrate. But the island is too large to explore in a week. Instead, opt to visit one or two of its more popular regions.
Located to the west, Negril offers fine beaches and beautiful upscale resorts. Montego Bay is the place for golf. Ocho Rios, in the mountainous northeast, is best for outdoor adventures.
How to save: You’ll spend far less in Jamaica by selecting an all-inclusive resort and centering your activities there. And don’t forget that bargaining is considered cool in Jamaica. Haggle for a better price whether you are shopping for crafts, hailing taxis or buying souvenirs.
Panama City Beach, Fla.
Panama City Beach bills itself as the “Spring Break Capital of the World.” And with its 27 miles of sandy beaches and temperate climate, it’s no surprise that the spot is a favorite among both students and families seeking late-winter getaways.
How to save: Cruise into town in your own car. Indiana University says that driving to Panama City Beach is a big money-saver for a spring break vacation. Unless you are traveling solo, you’ll save big bucks by driving instead of buying airline tickets, as fares tend to rise at this time of year.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
While college kids often head to Cancun for spring break, more cosmopolitan travelers prefer Playa del Carmen. Although you can certainly get a tan by the turquoise waters, the town’s ambiance is more Mediterranean, featuring artsy shops and delicious eateries.
How to save: Be independent. Don’t sign on the dotted line for organized tours to nearby cultural gems like Tulum or Xcaret. You should also look for colectivos, or shared vans that get you to attractions for a fraction of the price.
If you pick the Bahamas for spring break, you’ll have some 700 islands to choose from. The first stop for many is Nassau. Located on New Providence Island, this hotspot is known for having high-end casinos and expensive resorts.
If gambling the night away doesn’t interest you, consider a trip to Freeport on Grand Bahama. The spot features a nature and eco-tourism center, with fabulous underwater caves for diving adventures. And if you want to get away from it all, think about booking your stay on the Out Islands.
How to save: Stay on one island during spring break. While water taxis and short-hop flights connect these Caribbean destinations, your budget will go further if you forgo island hopping. You can also save money by avoiding resort restaurants. Instead, eat like the locals at smaller dining establishments. Sample deep-fried conch fritters for exotic, inexpensive delights.
Miami Beach, Fla.
Think of Miami Beach as two cities. With its affordable eateries and hotels, North Miami Beach is a fine choice for cheap spring break trips with the family. South Beach is chic and happening, making it an excellent destination for window shopping and cool clubbing experiences.
How to save: Opt for outdoor activities. The shores of “America’s Riviera” are extremely attractive, and you can relax for less if you spend your Miami Beach spring break outdoors. Plus, the kids will enjoy body surfing, playing in the sand and watching the huge cruise ships roll by.
West Maui might not be a typical spot for college students headed out for cheap spring break trips. Hawaii’s lack of hustle and bustle and pristine beaches have been attracting families for years, however. You can also visit Lahaina, a former whaling center, or Kaanapali Beach, which is ideal for snorkeling, sea turtle spotting and surfing.
You’ll want to tour the rest of the island, too. Trekking up the Road to Hana gives you a peek at East Maui’s rocky coastline, while Upland’s must-see spot is the massive volcano Haleakala.
How to save: Take the bus to tour the island. Renting a car is a lot more expensive. If you decide to rent a car, you can still save bucks by relying on your credit card or personal insurance to provide collision coverage. Check your insurance options before you get to Maui.
The New Orleans nightlife is legendary, making the city a great spot for a memorable spring break vacation. Additionally, music lovers will adore this city, which is known for its jazz, blues and Zydeco tunes. Meanwhile, its European-style architecture and enchanting French Quarter make it ripe for photo ops.
The most popular time to visit New Orleans is not for spring break, though, but Mardi Gras, a week-long street carnival held in February. But visit during spring break and you’ll still find lively parties up and down Bourbon Street.
How to save: Visit the world-famous French Quarter, but stay in a cheaper part of the city. One good option is a bed-and-breakfast in the Faubourg Marigny.