Plane tickets might cost> more this year, but if you re flexible on days (and not too picky about destinations), there are both spring break hotel bargains to be had and strategies to avoid partying college students.
Airfare for between Feb. 28 and March 31 is up 9% this spring, to an average of $349, while hotels are down 15%, reports Bing Travel, Microsoft s travel search site. What does that mean for you? Think: travel jujitsu. College students tend to go to the same places every year -- Cancun, Palm Springs, South Beach, says Erik Torkells, the editor of travel review site TripAdvisor.com. They like to stay where all the action is. For grown-ups, that might mean considering the Big Apple, where vacancies have brought down the prices on three and four star properties. Or a more family-oriented area, like Orlando. If you re really set on the beach, you could have to shell out for a high-end resort students can t afford, or head for hotels and vacation rentals at smaller towns nearby.
Here are three destinations for a bargain Spring Break:
Putting aside the recent tsunami scare, Hawaii is still a budget-buster for most college students because of the long-haul flight. But with peak travel season extending through April, there will be bargains and crowds, says Barbara Messing, the vice president for deal-tracking site Travel-Ticker.com. Outrigger and Ohana resorts, which operate 23 properties on four islands, have dropped rates by up to 65% for travel through April 30. Prices for a standard room at the Ohana Waikiki West start at $79 per night. East Coast residents may be priced out, though: Round-trip flights from Los Angeles start at about $500.
College students take over many of Florida s beaches, but the theme parks remain the domain of families, says Ian Ford, the founder of travel deal site UndercoverTourist.com. If you can avoid traveling in late March, early April over Easter weekend, there are deals on park properties, too. Disney cut room prices by 25% to 40% through March 27, and then starting up again April 11. You ll pay as little as $79 for a standard room. Round-trip flights from New York start at $175.
3) New York
New York came in third on student travel site StudentUniverse.com s tally of top spring break destinations, based on the number of flights booked. Tourists are unlikely to notice the influx, however, Torkells says. If students come to New York, the city absorbs them, he says. There isn t critical mass. Expedia.com currently has discounts ranging from 20% to 40% on three- and four-star New York properties. A deluxe king room at The Alex costs as little as $209 per night instead of $349 (a 40% discount), while a superior king room at the Park Central New York Hotel is $179 instead of $239 (25%).