7 Ways to Plan an Unforgettable Spring Break

The weather might be miserable right now, but take heart: It’s only a few months until spring break, aka the promise of lying in the sun, drinking cocktails, and having great times with your friends. photo credit : thefivefoottraveler

Unfortunately, having an Instagram-worthy vacation costs a pretty penny. But if you start now, travel experts say that you can cut corners easily to save lots of money on an amazing vacation. Here are seven key strategies to have an amazing trip on the cheap.

1.DON’T BE AFRAID OF A LONG FLIGHT. 

European destinations like Iceland, London, Stockholm, and Norway have lower-than-average rates over spring break since it’s not prime time for tourists. You should also consider southeast Asia, because even if the airfare is pricey, the cost of hotels and food is extra-cheap to make up for it. 

“You can go to Thailand and live like a king on a budget, versus Mexico, where it’s more expensive,” says Brian Kelly, founder and CEO of The Points Guy. “Don’t let the flight dominate where you decide to go.” 

Though if you must go sit on an island and drink cocktails, check out Martinique, where Norwegian Air flights from the U.S. can be as low as $79.

2.STALK AIRLINES ON SOCIAL MEDIA. 

If you’re looking for cheap fares, you have to let the airlines annoy you online — at least for a little while. Follow all the major airlines, plus smaller ones going to your dream destination, on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for their email newsletters. 

Jamie Beckman, senior editor at Budget Travel, recommends setting up separate alert emails at sites like Google Flights, Airfare Watchdog, and Kayak so you can know when fares are low. Yes, it’s annoying for now, but “it’s going to be worth it when you find these killer fares,” she says. And keep in mind that the “cheapest” fare may not actually be the cheapest once you factor in things like luggage fees.

3.IF YOU’VE BEEN CONSIDERING A ROAD TRIP, NOW’S YOUR TIME. 

Airfares for spring break travel tend to be high, since there’s high demand. But gas prices haven’t been this low in years, which makes it prime time for a road trip. 

Shereen Rayle, who blogs at Shereen Travels Cheap, recommends cities like Phoenix, Palm Springs, Los Angeles, and Austin, since they’re warm destinations that may not be packed with tourists during March or April. “Even if they don’t have a beach, a lot of times there will be a lake, and lake property is just as fun but cheaper,” she says.

4.STEER CLEAR OF CRUISES IF YOU’RE LOOKING TO SAVE CASH.

“If you’re looking to drink, [a cruise is] not really a great option,” Rayle says. That’s because drinks on board cost way more than you would buy on your own, and you can’t bring booze on board — even if you bought it at port. 

“A lot of the little extras really add up and you end up spending twice as much as you started with,” she says, “and it’s hard to regulate your budget that way.” Plus, gambling is one of the key attractions of a cruise ship, and there’s no easier way to waste a ton of money while on vacation.

5.USE SNEAKY TECHNIQUES TO SAVE MONEY ON HOTELS.

Travel booking sites like Hotwire and Priceline let you set your own price when looking for hotels and rental cars. But if you just guesstimate how much you think a room will cost, you’re doing it wrong. John E. DiScala, who blogs at Johnny Jet, says that there are multiple forums online where travelers post their winning bids. 

Once you’ve snagged that deal, there might be even more to come. If your room is refundable, Kelly recommends checking out the app Hotel Tonight a few days before you leave. Though it’s not necessarily good etiquette, figure out if your hotel lets you cancel your room for a full refund. If they do, book a cheaper rate on Hotel Tonight and cancel your previous reservation, since hotels often give cheaper rates to fill their rooms at the last minute.

photo credit: travelandleisure

6.CHECK OUT ALL-INCLUSIVE PACKAGE DEALS — BUT READ THE FINE PRINT. 

Groupon and LivingSocial can be great destinations to find package deals for all-inclusive hotels. If you’re in college or grad school, sometimes on-campus travel agents also have great packages just for students. All-inclusive resorts promise a full vacation in one single, cheap package, including food and booze. But sometimes these resorts will hide secret fees or exclude certain amenities in the fine print. 

“For spring break, this is my number-one tip,” Beckman says. “If you decide to opt for an all-inclusive resort, make sure you know what the package includes.” If you decide to have champagne in your room every night, it might not be included in your “all-inclusive” umbrella, and you’ll be stuck paying for it at the end of your stay.

7.ONCE YOU’RE AT YOUR DESTINATION, GET CHEAP.

Matt Kepnes, blogger at Nomadic Matt and author of How to Travel the World on $50 a Day, recommends Googling your way to free stuff. All you have to do is search for “free activities” or “free tours” in your city of choice to find some cool opportunities.

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