It’s less than six weeks until Spring Break and Easter (March 27, 2016). That means it’s time to get serious about your travel planning. So where is the best place to go this year? For years, the top destinations remain pretty much the same and they are Las Vegas, Key West, South Padre Island (TX), Daytona Beach, Myrtle Beach (SC), Miami Beach, Panama City Beach (FL), Fort Myers Beach (FL), and San Diego. Outside of the U.S., Mexico (Cancun and Cabo San Lucas) and the Caribbean (Punta Cana, Bahamas, and Jamaica) are among the most popular destinations.
But here’s my three reasons for going elsewhere:
*shake things up
Here’s my list of the Ten Best Spring Break & Easter Vacation Tips (and these are for college kids and families):
1. Skiing and Snowboarding. There are lots of options but the top places are Jackson Hole, WY; Whistler, B.C.; and most of Colorado, including Telluride, Aspen, Breckenridge, and Crested Butte. While none of these resorts are cheap, most offer student spring break packages. Families should also get a package deal as bundling saves the most money. Good places to start: www.coloradoski.com, http://www.cheaptickets.com/cheap-vacations/Ski.tSKI/and http://www.ski.com
2. A one-week cruise to Mexico or the Caribbean are some of the best bargains to be had. I recently saw a five-day Caribbean cruise aboard Carnival’s Sensation with an oceanview cabin departing from Miami in March for just $459 on CruiseCheap. That’s just $90 a day for lodging, meals, entertainment, and more. Another good resource is http://www.cheapcruises.com. In case you’re wondering about the safety of Mexico, most cruise lines are no longer docking at any ports that may be unsafe). Student City offers some good spring break packages including spring break cruises that include some pretty cool entertainment options. Another place to find spring break deals is Sun Splash Tours. For families, what’s great about cruises is that they’re all-inclusive which saves you lots of $$$ and there is something for everyone from children’s activities to teen discos to adult only areas and activities.
3. Europe. Spring is the low season in Europe so you’ll score savings of 40-60%. My vote for the best places to go are Italy, Spain, London, and Greece. Or go off the beaten path to beautiful, uncrowded places like Croatia, but be sure to do your research so that you know what to expect. Students qualify for cheap airfares and discount rail passes. A great place for families is www.untours.com and www.affordabletours.com and for students check out www.statravel.com and you can find cheap flights on https://www.studentuniverse.com/flights
4. Stick close to home. Go somewhere less than three hours away, such as the mountains, state park, lake, or big city. Good places to find affordable rentals include www.airnb.com, www.vrbo.com, and www.flipkey.com. Gas is cheap now and if you stay in a rental you can save money by eating one or two meals a day at your vacation property.
5. Alternative Spring Break. An increasingly popular spring break idea is volunteerism. To spend a few days helping those that have so little due to poverty or natural disaster can be the most rewarding experience of your life. Combine travel to exciting destinations like Morocco, Costa Rica, and Thailand with all kinds of one-week volunteering opportunities. A good place to start is www.crossculturalsolutions.org. and https://volunteervacations.americanhiking.org/volunteer-vacations/alternative-break/ and http://blog.uvolunteer.net/final-call-for-spring-break-2016-volunteer-vacations. Or check your local campus for other opportunities. Bonus: You should be able to write off this expense on your taxes!
6. Great Wolf Lodges offer a dozen locations throughout the U.S. and always have discounted spring break “blast packages.” This enormous indoor water park offers lots of other activities and includes on site lodging and dining. Many locations across America. www.greatwolf.com
7. Orlando has lots of options for all ages and interests, such as seven major theme parks including Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld. Besides theme parks there is the Disney Wilderness Preserve, Ice Bar, swamp buggy tours, Turkey Lake Park, Orlando Science Center, Mall at Millenia (150+ shops) and more! www.visitorlando.com is loaded with tourism information and discounts. If heading to Orlando, you may also be interested in my post about Legoland Florida.
8. Visit a national park or historic site, such as Mammoth Cave (KY) or Colonial Williamsburg (VA). This year is the 100th anniversary of our national parks so it’s a great time to go. www.nps.gov and http://www.bootsnall.com/articles/10-06/the-first-timers-guide-to-planning-a-u-s-national-parks-vacation.html. FYI: The most popular parks are the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Yosemite, and The Tetons. It is hard to get reservations in peak season (summer) in the most popular parks and at the most visited historic sites but spring (mild weather) is the best time, in my opinion, to go.
9. Go whitewater rafting and enjoy other outdoor adventures. One of my favorite activities is rafting and there are options for all ages and skill levels. You can go for the day or choose a multi-day rafting/camping trip. You can combine this other options, such as tubing, kayaking, caving, hiking, and lots of other fun stuff. http://www.raftingamerica.com/ and http://www.usaraft.com/
10. A staycation is a viable option if done right. Pack a picnic and take a road trip. Visit some cool places in your area, such as an aquarium, zoo, science center, state park, water park, quaint town, roadside attraction, haunted site, outdoor drama, historic site, or weird museum. Get online and do a little research to find out what possibilities are near your location. Planning is the key to success so have a rough itinerary. Don’t forget to plan some simple pleasures like having a cookout and playing games.
Before you go anywhere I always recommend you check our State Department’s site for any travel warnings and/or advisories this includes weather-related issues, health advisories, and terrorism threats. http://www.state.gov/travel/
Please feel free to share this link on your favorite social media or with anyone who may be interested. If you have any questions or comments about Easter/Spring Break vacation planning please send them to me via the comment form.