Spring break travel isn’t just for college students. Spring typically brings the first bloom of fair weather and can offer some good travel deals as well. However, whether you’re a student or a family, simple travel hacks can help get you the best vacation for the lowest possible price. Some of these travel tips are not just spring break ideas but can also apply to your travel planning throughout the year.
Notice Pricing Patterns
When you search for flights, always use the private or incognito setting on your web browser. Airline sites are known for raising prices if the same user makes repetitive flight searches, but you can avoid that problem with private searches. You should also learn the typical times that airlines raise prices. For example, some experts recommend booking in fall for the following year’s spring break, before prices rise. While there are plenty of travel sites that advertise last-minute deals, it’s a gamble whether you’ll find a deal for exactly where you want to visit.
Use Alternative Strategies
Any time you can do something that the rest of the world isn’t already doing, you’re likely to save money. Find off-the-beaten-path itineraries whenever possible and you’re likely to reap substantial savings on your trip. For example, instead of heading to Las Vegas, consider Laughlin; if you’re headed to a Mexican beach, think San Carlos instead of Rocky Point. Similarly, if you’re a family, consider avoiding crowded party beaches like Ft. Lauderdale in favor of one of the countless other beaches in Florida that provide the same water and sand without the crowds and price tags.
When it comes to transport, renting a car or van — particularly if you’re traveling with a family or a group of people — is often far more cost-effective than flying. One great travel hack is to fly to alternate airports4. Some carriers have built up a following by offering cheap fares to secondary airports, such as Providence (for Boston) and Orly Airport (for Paris).
Before you go on your trip, don’t forget to call your banks and credit card companies and let them know you’ll be travelling. Otherwise, some companies might block your card the first time you use it in a new location. When it comes to your important documents, it’s a good idea to scan them and email yourself a copy. You might also want to upload a copy to the cloud via services such as Dropbox. That way, if you lose your passport, ID or itinerary you’ll have immediate access to copies
The hospitality industry knows the dates of spring break every year and seeks to capitalize on travelers who have little flexibility in terms of when they can take their break. This translates to generally higher prices during standard spring break weeks. If you can be a bit flexible, you may be able to score some spring break deals.
Since most travelers prefer to come back on Sunday, in time to start school or work on Monday, airfare and hotels are typically priced at peak rates. The slightest shift in travel dates can translate into savings on flight and hotel prices.
For example, if you’re a college student with no class on Mondays, come back on a Monday instead of a Sunday, or even mid-week if you can swing it. Flexibility pays when it comes to actually booking your flights as well. Be sure to check flight booking services like Google Flights to find the best deals and keep an eye out for fares dropping on Tuesdays. Some industry experts claim it’s the best day for buying tickets.
Set Up Alerts
If you’re too busy to constantly check airfares, let the Internet do the work for you. Sites like airfarewatchdog.com and yapta.com will send you automatic fare updates or price drops once you enter your travel itinerary. You can also set up fare alerts for specific airlines if you’re trying to earn points.
Do It Yourself
Any time you have to pay someone else for a service, it’ll cost you more than if you do it yourself. While some experiences are hard to replicate on your own, like a blowout beach party with live bands and DJs from across the world, you can handle many of the more mundane aspects of your trip on your own. For example, bring your own food rather than paying for high-priced restaurant meals. Interested in that tour of Mayan ruins while on spring break in Mexico? Find out where the tour groups go and make your own itinerary, perhaps downloading one of the numerous free audio tours found online.