Everything is more expensive right now — and that includes Spring Break. However, that doesn’t mean you and your family can’t have the spring vacation you’ve been waiting for. By planning ahead, choosing less expensive destinations and using apps to save money as you travel, you could end up with a very affordable Spring Break trip — even as we begin a second year of inflation.
Last year, we asked moms how they were planning Spring Break during the coronavirus. This year, we asked the same moms how they were handling Spring Break during inflation. We also talked to a nationally-recognized financial expert who works with busy moms, to get even more advice on how parents can save money on Spring Break travel.
Here are a few things to keep in mind.
The mom who booked a small-town beach trip
Last year, financial coach Annette Harris took her family to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. For Spring Break 2023, she’s putting in the extra work to save a little money. “I planned in advance to prepare my family for the rising cost of Spring Break,” Harris said. “I researched various locations across the East Coast to find affordable places we could visit.”
Her research quickly revealed that Spring Break flights would cost more than she wanted to spend. She started looking at destinations that were within driving distance. “To defray costs, we decided to drive instead of flying.”
Harris also learned that hotels and resorts would cost more than she wanted to spend. “Most hotels and resorts I viewed cost hundreds of dollars a night, which doesn’t include the meals to get you through the day.”
She ended up booking a vacation home through Airbnb, which will help her save money not only on lodging, but also food. “Choosing an Airbnb enabled us to bring groceries to prepare meals daily. If we want to go to dinner, we can do that too. However, the ability to cook our meals will ensure that we keep our vacation budget on track.”
Harris also stuck to her vacation budget by picking a small beach town instead of one of the more popular vacation destinations. “We avoided the most popular locations in South Carolina,” she said. “That way, we can have a beach vacation at a reduced price.”
The mom who’s taking the kids to visit relatives
Last year, travel blogger Tykesha Burton kept her family close to home, putting off any major trips until her youngest child was eligible for the coronavirus vaccine. This year, she’s once again reconsidering her Spring Break plans.
“Usually, I’d have our Spring Break plans all sewn up this time of year,” Burton told us. “Due to the high cost of everything, I haven’t solidified our plans just yet.”
Burton had hoped to spend the week at an all-inclusive resort. Instead, she’s taking the kids to visit aunts, uncles and cousins.
“I initially wanted to visit an all-inclusive family resort in Mexico,” she said. “We’ve decided to visit family in Miami instead. This will be cheaper than an all-inclusive option.”
While Burton will still be responsible for the costs of getting her two children to Miami, the extended family vacation is going to save her immediate family a lot of money that can be put towards a future trip once prices go down. “We’re hoping to roll what we save during Spring Break into a more extended summer vacation,” Burton says, “to hopefully a far-flung destination.”
The financial expert who wants you to save money with apps
Financial expert Andrea Woroch provides budgeting tips for busy moms. Here’s her advice for any parents who are still in the process of planning Spring Break.
“My best tip is to forget about flying,” Woroch says. “You already missed the sweet spot to book for the best price, which is about six to eight weeks out before departure.” (Though if you’re traveling in late March or April, you might still have time.)
If you aren’t ready to give up on your dreams of air travel to family-friendly spring break destinations, use price tracking apps to look for affordable flights. “Set a price tracking alert from your home airport but leave the destinations open,” Woroch advises. “An app like Going or Hopper could alert you to an amazing flight deal if it becomes available for your travel dates.”
Price tracking apps can also help you save money on a road trip, especially if you use apps that are designed to help you save money on gas while traveling here in the United States. “Driving can be much more affordable than flying,” says Woroch, “especially since you can pack your own snacks, take unlimited luggage and bring your own entertainment. Stick to a destination that’s a bit closer to home to save on gas, and use apps like GasBuddy to help you find cheaper gas along your route.”
Lastly, Woroch suggests using coupon apps to help you save money once you reach your destination. “Groupon and LivingSocial are still around, and they can be a great way to explore a new city and take part in fun activities and adventures or even try new restaurants on the cheap. Simply search these sites for deals based on the zip code or name of the city you’re traveling to to see what types of savings pop up.”
From our experience, looking for a place with good spring weather and plenty of outdoor activities (like hiking trails, or somewhere near a National Park) opens up a wealth of lower-cost options, provided they’re not booked already. For families, take Harris’s advice that finding a vacation rental can be cheaper than hotel prices for rooms that can accommodate everybody.
Whatever your budget, here’s hoping you enjoy some well-earned time off — for you and the kids.