Spring break season is in full swing, but just because the popular travel window is famous for its throngs of coeds doesn’t mean everyone can’t benefit from a little R&R this time of year.
To help vacation-bound travelers navigate the weary waters of March travel, Metro grabbed some tips from Mark Murphy, New Jersey-based travel expert and publisher of TravelPulse.com and Vacation Agent magazine.
For fun in the sun
Murphy recommends waiting until the weeks after spring break and Easter to get the better deals in coed-crawling places like the Caribbean. In the U.S., certain places in Florida – like Fort Lauderdale and South Beach — provide good value, but the issue you’ll have with that, as with anything in the U.S., is paying for food and airfare.
If you opt for staying stateside, Murphy recommends booking the off-peak days of the week to save some cash.
“Come in on a Sunday and leave on a Thursday,” he suggests.
The advantage of taking a flight to Cancun and other tropical destinations is that you can stay in all-inclusive resorts. It costs more to get there, but you save money.
If you want to save money on airfare and go someplace warm (and who doesn’t?), look at cruise lines that sail out of Boston and New York, which also provide all-inclusive packages.
Use your resources
For tech-savvy travelers, Murphy’s best advice for booking vacations may come as a shock.
“There are these people called travel agents,” quips Murphy. “It’s the most obvious secret in travel booking. People feel they can do it themselves, until they screw it up —they overpay and realize they could have gotten a suite for the same price.”
The reason: Travel today is specialized, says Murphy. There are agents who specialize in selling cruises, and others who focus on family-friendly trips. The agents have special relationships with their suppliers, which means opportunities for free upgrades, access to car service and discounts.
But one tip: “Not all are good,” he says. “Seek out the ones that can really put together a good vacation.”
“It depends on the destination. If you’re talking about the Caribbean, cruises or Mexico, yes, those areas are booming. But if you’re talking about Europe, not really, which means you’ll get great discounts,” says Murphy.
Stats to know
New research from Fly.com found that:
New Orleans was the most popular destination, experiencing a 2 percent price decrease in the last year.
The cheapest destination is Fort Lauderdale, with airfare deals starting at $264.
Travel to Paris is the most expensive with deals starting at $761.
Down from 21 percent last year, the biggest cost-saving opportunity is to Cancun, Mexico.
The most unusual destination is Paris as it is not your typical spring break vacation spot.
The average fare for the top 10 cities is $417, down 9.7 percent for these destinations compared to last year.
The Top 10 spring break destinations for college students this year:
Las Vegas New Orleans Denver New York San Diego Chicago Panama City Beach Orlando Dallas Nashville