Tips for a Cheap Spring Break

  • 01 of 10

    Find Beach Deals Early for Top Destinations

    Three teenage girls (16-18) lying on beach talking over magazine
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    For many, finding a cheap spring break destination means finding a room in one of several self-proclaimed "Spring Break Capitals of the World." Which place truly has the biggest crowds? It's best to avoid that argument, but some of the top North American destinations for revelers include Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco in Mexico; Daytona Beach and Panama City Beach in Florida; and South Padre Island, Texas. If you plan trips to these locations, rest assured you will need reservations early to book rooms that will fill quickly and at premium prices. Read on and discover tips for planning a spring break getaway.

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  • 02 of 10

    Visit One Big City

    Seattle's skyline includes snow-covered Mount Rainier.
    (c)Mark Kahler, under an arrangement with About.com

    There are cities with so much to offer that it takes days just to see the highlights. Why not take five days during spring break and visit such a place? This is not necessarily using a big city as a base to explore a region--it is exploring one city for a number of days. You can bid for downtown hotel rooms on Priceline.com at deeply discounted rates or budget hotels and hostels that come with good recommendations. City passes help you bypass the ticket lines and pay one reduced price for scores of attractions. Another advantage to this strategy: airline connections to big cities can be cheaper than hitting a remote beach or hiking trail.

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  • 03 of 10

    Find Empty Cruise Cabins and Book at a Discount

    Many great deals on cruises are found at the last minute.
    (c)Mark Kahler, under an arrangement with About.com

    Have you noticed all the new and gargantuan cruise ships that are rolling into service in recent years? Cruise cabins are coming on line faster than the demand for these trips will fill those beds. That can lead to some excellent deals, even at a busy time like spring break. Because the actual breaks vary by school district and college campus, it's sometimes possible to find a four-day or even seven-day cruise that is discounted. If you're fairly flexible about when and where you'd like to cruise, check out VacationsToGo.com, where they sell these empty cabins at the last minute for huge discounts. You'll have to "join" their service, but it's free of charge to do so.

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  • 04 of 10

    Check Resort Special Offer Pages

    Disney World discounts exist, but you must search for them.
    (c)Mark Kahler, under an arrangement with About.com

    Another big destination at spring break is Orlando and the theme parks, especially Walt Disney World. Again, you're looking at big crowds and sometimes, sold-out rooms. Not much room for dealing, but sometimes it is possible to find deals if you start early and shop for bargains on special offer pages at the resort of your choice. For example, Walt Disney World special offers in mid-January included offers of up to 25 percent off on selected rooms. Beware: sometimes, the date of your visit could be blacked out. With more school districts going to an earlier spring break, it never hurts to look at the offers before paying full price.

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  • 05 of 10

    Find a Discount Airfare and Book It

    It pays to search for discount airfares.
    (c)Mark Kahler, under an arrangement with About.com

    Once a destination for spring break is decided, you should immediately look for airfare deals. The Deals of the week page right here at About.com Budget Travel is a good place to start. Also look at special offer pages from the airlines, where the best deals are likely to appear before they hit the search engines. Some say the lowest airfares come in the early morning hours when airlines reload their pricing programs. But you don't have to stay up all night to find a reasonable airfare. You should, however, be ready to book when you find the best bargain. Those who wait on such things often wind up disappointed.

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  • 06 of 10

    Track Airfares Online

    Track airfares online, long before you arrive at the airport.
    (c)Mark Kahler, under an arrangement with About.com

    Once you've locked in a cheap spring break airfare, did you know it's possible to continue tracking that fare and perhaps even get a better deal if the fare drops? Online tracking systems such as Yapta allow you to check on a specific route. Keeping up with this kind of information is tedious at best, so let someone else watch the prices for you.

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  • 07 of 10

    Strike a Deal for Accommodations

    Young woman taking cell phone photo from balcony of hotel room
    Inti St. Clair/Taxi/Getty Images

    If you're bound for a popular destination, you might end up paying rack rate (the standard room cost, which tends to be high) or even a premium rate. Some resent paying $300/night for a room that is $185/night just a few days or weeks later, but that is the law of supply-and-demand at work. If you don't want to pay premium prices, look at alternatives to hotel rooms at your destination. Outside of the most in-demand spring break destinations, there often is room to make deals. If you pick a destination that normally isn't overrun with tourists during this time of year (Europe or a northern national park, for example), you might be able to strike a solid spring break deal on accommodations.

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  • 08 of 10

    Voluntourism Combines Travel with Service

    Volunteers building a house
    Hero Images/Getty Images

    A popular trend involves skipping the beaches and tourist haunts on spring break and budgeting a little time to help those in need. Students involved in these kinds of trips don't get as much airtime on newscasts as those who binge drink or jump off of balconies. These helpful journeys have been dubbed voluntourism. New Orleans is a popular destination for voluntourists of all ages, because visitors can combine some sightseeing with community service in areas still devastated by storm damage. But doing a word search for voluntourism will pull up other opportunities all over the world. In some of these locations, discounts are available from grateful locals.

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  • 09 of 10

    Consider Visiting a National Park

    Hikers in Arches National Park
    David Wall Photo/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

    National parks in the United States and National Parks in Canada fill up in the summer. Campsites are tough to find and prices peaking. Spring break represents an opportunity to see some of the greatest natural treasures without huge summer crowds. Parks within a day's drive of larger urban areas will see some crowding during the spring break period, but most don't approach peak summer attendance. Look for lodging deals on site.

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  • 10 of 10

    Take a Quick Trip to Europe

    Two young women reading map in Copenhagen
    Muriel de Seze/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    Just like the national parks, Europe isn't going to hit its peak visitor period until many weeks after spring break. March and April are still fairly slow tourism months, and there are deals to be found. It might mean expanding your spring break by a few days, but if you focus on a small area, it can be rewarding to spend late winter or early spring in Europe.