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When to book, cheap destinations

by Staff

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With the holiday craze behind us but summer still feeling so far away, travelers have a glimmer of hope in the spring. Many are itching to get away during spring break.

This year, more spring breakers are looking for adventure, like scuba diving or hiking in places like Australia, Peru or Costa Rica, according to travel insurance platform Squaremouth’s recent press release. 

Also influencing spring break travelers? Social media influencers and set-jetting –  visiting the locales of their favorite shows or movies – CEO of HotelPlanner Tim Hentschel told USA TODAY. Think Italy following the latest “White Lotus” season. 

“The typical spring break has changed … now you’re seeing record demand for parks and destinations for giving back (with volunteer work),” Hentschel said. However, affordability and price are also top of mind for most Americans hoping to book a spring break trip this year, according to Hopper’s 2024 Spring Break Travel Outlook

There’s some good news for travelers: prices won’t be too bad if you book strategically. 

Here are four things you need to know about spring break travel for 2024:

1. Prices have plateaued

This year, spring breakers are in luck. Both domestic and international round-trip airfare are cheaper than last year, according to Hopper. Flights to Europe have gone down by 7% to an average of $640 and flights to Mexico and Central America dropped by 11% for an average of $447. 

Although demand for spring break travel is up, prices won’t be too high as there’s enough supply to go around, Hentschel said. 

“They’re not paying more than what they paid last year,” Hentschel said. 

Where travelers will have to fork up is accommodations, especially during peak weekends. In the U.S., the average nightly hotel rate over spring break is $242. South of the border in Cancun, Mexico, hotel rates average $339 per night, and in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, the average nightly rate is nearly $500. Across the pond in London, hotels are averaging $440 per night. 

Spring break hack: Start your weeklong vacation midweek instead of the weekend to save as much as $150 on a domestic roundtrip airfare, Hopper recommended. Trips that start or end on a Tuesday or Wednesday can be up to 38% cheaper than Saturday or Sunday travel. 

2. Am I too late to book my spring break trip?

Whether domestic or international, airfare should be booked one to two months in advance for the best price. 

When it comes to hotels, especially in coveted vacation destinations, “you get your best deals when you can book 30 days in advance,” Hentschel said. 

Those who are more flexible on where they’re going can hold off a bit. According to Hopper, travelers who are basing their trip on price point rather than the hotel amenities or destination itself can wait between 10 and 14 days before check-in to get the best deals. 

Spring break travel hack: Purchase travel insurance within one to two weeks of making your initial trip payment for the best coverage. “Buying earlier opens up the door to time-sensitive travel insurance benefits,” said James Clark from Squaremouth. “It really maximizes the amount of benefits to you as well.” These often include the ability to cancel your trip for any reason or preexisting conditions waivers.

Learn more: Best travel insurance

3. Most popular spring break destinations 

According to Hopper, here are the most popular spring break destinations:

Domestic:

◾ Orlando, Florida: $205 average airfare, $175 average hotel rate

◾ Las Vegas: $295 average airfare, $178 average hotel rate

◾ Miami: $251 average airfare, $339 average hotel rate

◾ Fort Lauderdale, Florida: $216 average airfare, $288 average hotel rate

◾ Nashville, Tennessee: $186 average airfare, $257 average hotel rate

International:

◾ Cancun: $403 average airfare, $339 average hotel rate

◾ London – $643 average airfare, $440 average hotel rate

◾ Punta Cana: $466 average airfare, $477 average hotel rate

◾ Los Cabos, Mexico: $431 average airfare, $431 average hotel rate

◾ Tokyo – $1,368 average airfare, $351 average hotel rate

Cancun without the crowds: Meet Isla Mujeres, a quieter Mexican getaway

4. Cheap spring break destinations to consider 

“I know everyone wants to go to Italy nowadays, but you can easily fit in multiple trips to these budget-friendly destinations for about the same cost that you can go to Europe,” Clark said. “I think people need to think about if they want to go on one big trip or multiple little trips.”

For some cheaper beach destinations, trade Cancun for Jamaica, and Puerto Rico for the Dominican Republic. Consider replacing Miami or Fort Lauderdale for Tampa. 

Kathleen Wong is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Hawaii. You can reach her at [email protected].

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