Spring break is on the way. Are you ready?

It’s not too early to start thinking about spring break.

The annual rite for sun worshipers, which runs from February to mid-April, isn’t just a stampede toward warmer weather. Many ski resorts experience peak demand, too. If you’re traveling somewhere in the coming weeks, you’ll need to start planning now and to keep a few strategies in mind, experts say.

Research by Crimson Hexagon, a Boston company that measures online consumer behavior, suggests that spring breakers will be flocking to the usual places.

Internationally, the favored destinations include Aruba, Jamaica and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. In this country, places with warmer weather, such as Tampa, Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Savannah, Ga., also rank highly. And, of course, Las Vegas and Atlantic City made the list.

Spring break is a sprawling occasion, which makes travel patterns difficult to predict. You won’t find a tidy spring break forecast comparable to those for the popular Memorial Day or Fourth of July weekends.

Don’t wait to make your spring break plans

“Don’t wait until the last minute,” advises Molly Fergus, general manager for TripSavvy, a travel advice site. “Spring break season is one of the busiest travel times of the year, which means flights will fill up, hotels will sell out and prices will be high in the most popular destinations. This is not the time to try to plan a last-minute trip, especially if you have your heart set on a specific place.”

Planning a vacation now ensures that you have more choices, which is something you’ll need if your first choice for spring break is sold out.

“It makes sense to plan well,” says Kurt Stahura, the dean of the College of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Niagara University.

“If you don’t want to be bothered by the noise and loud music that might very well accompany college students traveling in groups, it would certainly be best to research family-oriented destinations that are less likely to have spring breakers, or those that have vast areas where you know you’ll be able to find a secluded spot to enjoy the sun, read a book or enjoy a meal.”

What are the “hot” spring break destinations? The vacation rental site HomeAway shared its list with me. Its top cities for 2019 include Breckenridge, Colo.; Kissimmee, Fla.; Park City, Utah; Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Lahaina, Hawaii.

Consider overlooked destinations

As is so often the case, there are rewards for contrarians. Consider a destination that may have fallen out of favor this year because of negative publicity, and you might find fewer visitors and lower prices.

“Travelers shouldn’t be adverse to or overlook destinations that may have experienced hurricanes or been impacted by severe weather in the past,” says Larry Magor, the managing director of the new Isla Bella Beach Resort, on Knights Key in Florida, which opens March 10.

Many hotels in Florida and other places affected by last fall’s hurricanes are eager to prove that their destination is back and that they are open for business. Resorts are offering rates, packages and promotions that are competitively priced.

As someone who lived in a touristy destination for years, and survived several hurricanes, I can vouch for that. Hotels, restaurants and attractions are often among the first enterprises to make repairs and open up for business after a storm hits.

Travel experts I spoke with about spring break 2019 say avoiding potential traps is as important as ever. For example, if you insist on particular arrival and departure dates, you can end up overpaying for airfare.

Flexibility is the key to spring break planning success

“Be flexible,” says Daniel Marmontello, a senior product manager at CheapCaribbean, a travel site that specializes in Caribbean vacations. “Look for departures a day before or after your desired dates. Airfare pricing can vary by departure date, and you can find savings by being flexible.”

Marmontello also suggests taking a few minutes to search for alternate airports when you can’t find the flight you want. If you’re traveling from the Washington area, you have three major airports nearby to choose from, Reagan National, Dulles and Baltimore-Washington, “and make sure to check prices across all of them.”

Better yet, “avoid flying if at all possible,” says Sami Cone, a parenting blogger from Nashville who often writes about vacation planning. “It’s expensive and can add up to a lot of delays and hassle.” She advises driving to a nearby destination for spring break, which costs less and saves time.

Her other spring break advice: Book backward. Instead of making travel reservations and then looking for theme park or other attraction discounts, check for discount packages first and then book your stay around those dates. Although the savings can be substantial, don’t expect a theme park to give away rooms and tickets during busy times. Attractions have a time for deep discounts, in early January, but you’ve already missed it.

How about other spring break travel problems?

I pulled up spring break cases from last year and found nothing out of the ordinary.

Along with the usual misunderstandings — which usually involved loud college kids disturbing the peace — I counted several problems with airline ticket refunds, an unclean vacation rental, and a few issues involving bookings made through online travel agencies.

In other words, spring break travel problems are not that different from the problems you’re likely to encounter year-round.

So if you’re headed somewhere for spring break, start planning now, avoid flying to the most popular destinations and pack a few of these insider tips.

Share this story
Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at Cavalrytravelinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Enterprise Holdings

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.