Spring Break at beach of 'Playa del Carmen' in Mexico
Yes, inflation continues to drag on. And yes, air travel continues to be an experience that often leaves much to be desired in the eyes of Americans.
But none of that is impacting traveler enthusiasm when it comes to spring break 2023.
“Spring break is American’s next chance at a real vacation, and with their continued appetite for travel, even amid inflation fears, it should prove a busy season stretching across several weeks in March and April,” Travelzoo Senior Editor Gabe Saglie told TravelPulse.
Saglie is far from the only one predicting a busy spring break this year.
Expedia data shows flight searches for March and April travel are up 40% compared to the same time frame last year, with interest in international destinations like Punta Cana, Paris, and Tokyo up double-digits compared to spring break 2022.
Moreover, without the COVID-19 testing requirements of last spring, many travelers are eagerly returning to their favorite Mexico and Caribbean beaches, which are experiencing double-digit spikes in flight searches year over year, according to Expedia. Some of the hottest destinations being searched this year include:
-Puerto Vallarta: up 25%
-Montego Bay: up 25%
-Punta Cana: up 305
Data from Travelzoo shows similar traffic for warm weather, tropical escapes this spring break.
“Searches from last month on our site showed the highest numbers for the Bahamas and Jamaica since April 2022,” said Saglie. “Mexico is performing well, too, for both spring break and summer, with hot demand for luxe properties in the Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta, and Cabo San Lucas.”
Puerto Vallarta sunset.
In more recent weeks, Travelzoo has also witnessed an uptick in demand for still more tropical getaway locations, including Turks & Caicos, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Barbados, and the Dominican Republic.
Spring breakers who are looking to stay closer to home and avoid busy beach destinations, meanwhile, are flying to their favorite big North American cities or opting to unplug in nature.
There’s increased Expedia spring break search volume for New York City (up 5%), Montreal (up 40%), Banff National Park (up 40%), and Jackson Hole—which is experiencing a whopping 60% year-over-year increase in spring break interest.
The experts at Travelzoo also expect strong demand for national park getaways over spring break—particularly among family travelers.
“Yellowstone has seen a nice surge in search activity in the last couple of weeks, with a strong focus on spring. Demand (and rates) appear to taper off in late April through early June,” said Saglie, who advises travelers to book as soon as possible if a national park getaway is on the agenda for spring.
Cruises are also getting plenty of attention among spring break globetrotters, says Christie Hudson, head of public relations in the U.S. for Expedia.
“Demand for spring cruises to Alaska, for example, is up nearly 25% compared to the same time frame last year, while demand for European cruises gains momentum going into the summer,” said Hudson.
Travel agent Corey Hargarther of Dream Vacations—Hargarther, Thaler & Associates is also witnessing significant traffic from clients wanting to book cruise getaways.
And along with that demand, prices have also skyrocketed.
“Cruises are selling further in advance and at significantly higher prices over spring break last year,” Hargarther told TravelPulse. “Current pricing for a standard balcony for a four-night Royal Caribbean Bahamas cruise is $4,994.70. To put this into perspective…Meeples at Sea sailed a similar itinerary over spring break for many years for no more than $1,700.”
Watching the sunrise from a cruise deck
Not to be overlooked when considering the spring break travel fest this year, Europe is experiencing its’ own share of demand. Travelzoo data shows numerous countries across the continent attracting travelers.
“Search data in January, prime planning time for spring break, saw significant year-over-year demand, especially for France, Ireland, the UK, and Greece. And demand for Italy remains strong too,” said Saglie.
If you haven’t booked your spring break travel yet, it may not be too late. But you won’t want to wait much longer either.
Ideally, tickets should be booked three to seven months before your travel dates if traveling domestically, especially to popular spring break locations, said Katy Nastro, travel expert with Going.com (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights.)
For domestic destinations that are not necessarily considered spring break hotspots, tickets should be booked by the end of February—at the absolute latest. And for international destinations that don’t typically top spring break travel lists, Nastro advises booking two to eight months in advance.
With all of that said, there are some great spring break deals still available across mid-March and early April, according to Going:
—JFK to Cabo San Jose: $287
—Boston to Ireland: $410 (even including St. Patrick’s Day, but book as soon as possible.”
—Detroit to Puerto Rico: $294
Here are a few more helpful spring break booking tips from the experts at Expedia:
Avoid peak dates to save on airfare
Airfare prices peak in late March through early April, making early March (before March 9) and the latter half of April (after April 16) the cheapest times to fly this spring season.
The busiest travel days are March 10 through March 11, and the priciest are Saturdays, March 25, and April 1.
Depart on a weekday
During the spring travel period, travelers can save an average of more than 20% on round-trip airfare when departing on a Tuesday instead of a Saturday, plus enjoy shorter lines at the airport.
Book accommodations 30 to 45 days out
While around 64% of spring breakers tend to lock in hotels 90-plus days in advance, historically, the ones who wait tend closer to a month out tend to save around $30 per night.
Snag package savings
Bundling flights, hotel, and car rental together on the Expedia app saves travelers an average of around 10%, or $300, and makes trip planning easier.