It’s no secret that spring break is a popular time to travel — escaping the cold for a couple of days (or more) is appealing to almost anyone. Especially to these places.
But as a result, you’ll likely end up dealing with peak pricing on everything from hotel rooms to airline tickets and rental cars.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t deals available or that you can’t travel on a limited budget. To help reign in the spending, we asked experts to share the best ways to easily save money on spring break travel. Here’s what they said.
1. Book flights first, hotel later
Airfare prices tend to rise as the intended departure date gets closer — so thinking ahead pays off, said Hanns-Peter Nagel, spokesperson for Expedia.
“Booking flights 21 to 30 days in advance saved travelers 10% on airfare during last year’s U.S. spring break period,” said Nagel.
However, the average daily hotel price during spring break season was about $160 last year, according to Expedia. Those who waited and booked just six days (or less) ahead, unlocked savings of up to 15%.
Don’t lock into a hotel booking without checking out airfare — you could wind up shelling out a lot for the flights.
2. Wait for the right day of the week to book
It’s not only about how far ahead you book. It also matters what day of the week you make a reservation.
It’s best to book flights on a weekend and start your journey on a Thursday or Friday, according to Expedia and Airlines Reporting Corporation’s (ARC) 2019 Travel Pricing Outlook. When it comes to hotel rooms, book on Fridays to snag the best deals.
Hint: Want to learn more about finding the best flight? Check out these six things airlines don't want you to know.
3. Bundle & save
Similar to bundling your home and auto insurance to save money, you should consider packaging flight and hotel reservations together.
“You can save an average of $600 just by bundling your flight and hotel together, which is really significant,” said Nagel.
If you don’t want to buy a package right away or need more time to find the perfect hotel, many websites will allow you to book the flight first and add a hotel any time before your trip.
4. Use the app
Big travel sites often have deeply discounted deals available on their app. What’s more, booking via mobile often gets you some extra perks like double the rewards points.
Everyone loves perks — so be sure to check out this list of free things you can get while traveling.
5. Switch up your destination ...
Resist following the crowds to the typical spring break locations like Miami, Daytona or Fort Lauderdale. Instead opt to visit a less-traveled destination with the same climate, such as Cartagena or Belize, which can pay off in huge savings, said Calvin Iverson, spokesman for TravelPirates.
Or, consider ditching the warm climate for somewhere less familiar.
Many international destinations are still in the middle of their low-price season in March and April, making them a wallet-friendly choice, said Gabe Saglie, senior editor for Travelzoo.
“Look for value opportunity in places like Europe and Asia, where prices will still be low ahead of the upcoming summer bump, and the Caribbean, where prices will be beginning to soften as we exit winter,” said Saglie.
6. ... or stay outside the action
If you have your heart set on a specific location, you may want to consider booking a hotel a little bit outside of the destination center, said Iverson.
“Browse all available options, including those slightly outside of the action, before you make your final decision,” he said. “It’s possible to find huge savings and still only be a short walk or drive from where you’d like to party.”
For example, Iverson said in New Orleans, hotels on Bourbon Street are almost always going to be more expensive than Airbnbs in the Marigny, a neighborhood that’s walking distance from the city’s legendary party street.
7. Skip the parking
One of the easiest costs to cut out is parking. Rates can be expensive in popular destinations, costing in excess of $70 per night in places like San Francisco and New York, whether at a hotel valet or a garage, said Saglie. (Here are some other travel fees you should never pay.)
“You can save a bit of money if you do one-way rental cars or consider a rideshare option to get around your destination,” said Saglie. “Additionally, don’t let your car just sit at the airport while you’re gone and rack up a hefty price tag. Call upon that good friend and ask them to drive you to the airport.”
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Image: Alex D'Alessio