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Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.

Spring break 2021 isn’t going to be like years past, where you’re cramming into bars and going to all-night beach raves. BUT that doesn’t mean you and your pandemic pod can’t rent a rad vacation rental close to the beach, with a private pool or near some excitement, and still have the time of your life. Why pack into hotel rooms when you can book a sweet vacation rental property and all hang together, whether you go out or stay in? This is the year to think outside the box. Take a peek at the vacation rentals below and start the party planning for your pod.

RELATED: 10 less-crowded spring break beaches

Mid-century modern home with rooftop: Nashville, TN

Why not gather your crew, grab your guitars and road-trip it to Music City for spring break? Book this super nice 4-bedroom house with private rooftop, so your gang can all stay together. The house feels brand new and can fit 12 people. Wake up in the morning and enjoy complimentary coffee and Netflix, and then end your day chatting with your friends on the sweet rooftop lounge with couches, chairs and a dining table. All the honky tonks and excitement along Broadway are just a short ride share away. Catch an up-and-coming country star performing at The Stage, then stroll over to Printer’s Alley and take the stage yourself at everybody’s favorite late night karaoke spot, Lonnie’s.

Remodeled mountain view home: Marfa, TX

It’s not exactly the ideal year to head to the usual bumping spring break spots, so why not take the time to visit a place that’s probably already on your bucket list—artsy Marfa! This funky West Texas town offers everything from wide-open plains with wild jackrabbits and javelina to eclectic art installations like Prada Marfa. Rent out this remodeled ranch-style house overlooking the mountains for a few days and spend your evenings BBQ-ing on the patio under the big Texas sky. Take a day trip or two down to Big Bend National Park, truly one of the most beautiful corners of the United States.

3-bedroom beachfront penthouse: Carlsbad, CA

With fewer crowds and awesome beaches, the coastal towns north of San Diego are truly hidden gem destinations. From Del Mar up to Oceanside you’ll find beautiful stretches of golden sands, seaside restaurants, and bustling boardwalks filled with surfers and rollerbladers. Post up in the beloved town of Carlsbad and rent out this 3-bedroom penthouse at Beachwalk Villas. You’ll feel like high rollers in this 2000-square-foot abode with sweeping ocean views. Carlsbad State Beach and Tamarack Beach are both right outside your door, a one-minute walk away. Watch the surfers out your window in the morning or book a group surfing lesson for your crew. You can’t come to the San Diego area not try some fish tacos, so fill yourself up with those for lunch, then book a fun dinner at the buzzy Campfire Restaurant in Carlsbad Village.

Sky-blue beach home with a view: Amelia Island, FL

If you’re seeking out a beautiful Florida destination without a packed beachfront, look no further than Amelia Island. This gorgeous white-sand barrier island lies 45-minutes north of the Jacksonville area and is easily drivable from Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas. Pile your pod into this sky-blue Amelia Island beach home complete with a palm tree out front and ocean view out back. With four spacious bedrooms, this rental is very well appointed and boasts a charming coastal vibe. It has everything your group needs, including beach chairs—which you’ll be using a lot because Fernandina Beach is just steps away!

Historic downtown home: Charleston, SC

No place is as charming as Charleston. The gorgeous tree lined streets provide a beautiful perimeter for stunning historic homes, like this one boasting two apartments, each with 3-bedrooms, offering ample space for everyone. Full kitchens mean you can stay safely at home and enjoy meals, but should you choose to venture out, the location is walkable to everything, including dozens of amazing restaurants. Spring is the perfect time to visit this Southern city, before the oppressive heat of the summer creeps in. It’s still warm enough to visit the beach but you’ll be able to be outside without sweating to death!

Entire home with hot tub: Miami, FL 

Miami is a popular destination for springs breakers looking for sunshine, hot spots, and good food. And while the club scene may not be bumping this spring, the weather is still amazing and outdoor dining is easy peasy. You and up to 8 friends can book this stunning 3-bedroom home in Biscayne Bay and find yourselves swimming in the lap of luxury….and also swimming in your own private pool! Just a 10-minute drive to the beach as well as the popular Brickell neighborhood, the location is killer. You can grill out in the backyard or cook in the stunning kitchen, then unwind at night in the hot tub! Sounds like a perfect spring break to us!

Old Town Condo: Scottsdale, AZ

With nearly 300 days of sunshine annually, it’s no wonder folks are so happy here.  But, there’s more to the Grand Canyon State than just desert and spas, although both are pretty awesome! This beautiful 2-bedroom condo is located in Old Town Scottsdale, which means just outside your door, you’ll have historic landmarks to see, tasting rooms to pop into, and restaurants to enjoy. Old Town is close to dozens of great hiking trails, world-class golf courses and spas, spring training fields, bars, shops, and acres of vast desert landscape. You can’t go wrong with a spring visit to Arizona!

Mid-Century home: Palm Springs, CA

With so much coastline, people often forget that parts of California are also in the desert, and if we’re being honest, it’s our favorite part. Palm Springs is chock full of amazing mid-century modern architecture, like Casa Yuqi. This 3-bedroom home, complete with a hot tub and a heated pool, is the perfect spring break oasis. Pop into town to take in the beautiful, colorful buildings, enjoy delicious cuisine, spend the day golfing at one of the sprawling courses, or enjoy a morning hike—Joshua Tree National Park isn’t too far away. There is so much to do here and the weather is perfect!

Tagged: Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, Destinations, Seasonal, Texas, Types of Travel

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

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Note: All travel is subject to frequently-changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state, and local advisories before scheduling trips.

That old saying, “Youth is wasted on the young”? Don’t take offense. Instead, live loud, take chances and seize the day. One way to make the most of your 20s is to plan out some really fantastic, memorable trips, and we’ve got just the list to get your plans going. Whether that means a debaucherous spring break at the beach with friends in college or finally hitting a bucket list festival in your mid-20s, or even taking a romantic journey along Italy’s rugged coast in your late-20s, there’s a trip for you at every stage of your third decade.

Sound like a lot to plan? And pay for? Don’t worry: We’re also giving away up to a decade’s worth of free trips, only from CheapTickets! To get you travel dreaming again, we’re giving one lucky 20-something a free trip each year until they turn 30. Just go to www.cheaptickets.com/20sTravel for Official Rules and instructions on how to enter.

EARLY 20s

Mexico

Our neighbor to the South offers plenty of places for later in life trips like wine tasting in Valle de Guadalupe or aligning your chakras in Tulum. But when midterms are in the can and it’s beach and booze you’re craving, ditch winter and get your sweet self to Cancun or Cabo for a spring break with 10 of your besties (or however many you can squeeze into adjoining hotel rooms). Whether you’re bound for Cabo’s Playa El Médano or Cancun’s hotel zone, there’s clubs, cheap eats and beaches aplenty, and it’s always margarita ‘o clock. Plus, with plenty of great flight + hotel package deals, there’s a Mexico vacation to fit even most student budgets.

Find Mexico package deals here.

London

If it’s your first trip to Europe, London is about the best gateway you could ask for. There’s no language to learn, you can ride the Tube cheaply, and it’s packed with iconic sights like Big Ben, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye. It’s also a dream come true for culture vultures: Pack your days by museum hopping world-class institutions like the British Museum, National Gallery and Tate Modern for starters, and by night, catch a play or concert, or discover the next big trend at a club. You’ll never run out of things to do in London, but if you need a short break from the bustle, you’ll find easy day trips to Oxford, Bath, Avon, Brighton and Stonehenge.

Find your perfect London hotel here.

Spain

It probably seems like everybody you know visited Barcelona in the past couple of years, right? And with good reason. Spain is still one of the better bargains in Europe, the food is amazing (hello, tapas!) and the wine is incredible (you don’t even have to be 21 to imbibe). On top of that, Barcelona—wedged between mountains and the sea—is home to some of the coolest, quirkiest art and architecture in the world, from the Picasso and Miro museums to impressive structures like Familia Sagrada and Parque Güell. All that adds up to making it a great pick for anyone in their early 20s to start discovering Europe.

For fantastic prices on Barcelona hotels, look here.

South Florida

Craving a tropical beach escape where you and your friends can have a little fun in the sun, no passport required? There’s no better place than South Florida. In Miami, your beach escape comes with clubby, heart-thumping nightlife and hip, city-centered fun like the arty Wynwood mural complex, plus Cuban culinary delights in Little Havana. About a half hour north, you’ll find slightly more laid-back Fort Lauderdale, which boasts its own cultural charms like the hip FAT Village arts district and water taxi tours past the mansions of the rich and famous. If you’re looking for a warm-weather bargain, head 3 1/2 hours north to Daytona Beach, a spring break classic, where you’ll find lively beachfront bars, a bustling boardwalk and affordable accommodations to fit almost any budget.

Find a great place to stay in Florida right here.

MID-20s

New York City

If you’re not the cool friend who moved to NYC right after college, chances are you know one who did. That person is probably living in Bushwick with three roommates, but they have a couch you can crash on, right? Brooklyn highlights include Smorgasburg, Roberta’s Pizza, Prospect Park and hipster hangout Freehold. Head into Manhattan for bar nights in the East Village and Lower East Side, and do indulge in a few tourist attractions like the High Line, Vessel, Central Park, Katz’s Deli and window shopping in the leafy West Village. Broadway bound? Snag show tickets for less at CheapTickets.com.

Your perfect NYC hotel awaits—find it here.

Coachella

For many music fans, this is the hugest event of the year. Since 1999, the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, has brought together all the best indie, hip hop and electronic bands of the moment, not to mention future favorites you haven’t even discovered yet. While lots of younger attendees opt to camp on-site, now that you’re in your mid-20s, why not aim for a more comfortable and luxurious stay in one of nearby Palm Springs’ many fantastic hotels? For a relaxing stay with a mid-century vibe, for example, try the adults-only Del Marcos Hotel (21 and over), or for a bustling pool-side social scene, opt for the Ace Hotel. If you’re looking for great Coachella after-parties, try the colorful and quirky Saguaro Palm Springs, which also includes hammocks, yoga on the lawn and music around its large pool. But book early—all the best places fill up fast!

Find other incredible Coachella-area hotels here.

Las Vegas

Wet Republic, Encore Beach Club, Temptation Sundays, Drai’s and countless others. The Vegas pool party scene is the stuff of legend and something your crew needs to do at least once in life, but a Vegas vacation rarely comes cheap. (You won’t make up your flight and hotel costs on the casino floor, trust us.) Other Vegas highlights include happy hour on the High Roller, the Neon Museum at night, selfies in front of the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign, thrifting and gallery hopping in the Arts District, barhopping downtown, and so much more. A Vegas vacation is amazing once you’re old enough to afford it, and it’s one to remember—if you can.

Book a great Las Vegas hotel here. 

Italy’s Amalfi Coast

We’ve all seen the gorgeous photos of pastel-hued homes carved into the cliff side overlooking azure waters dotted with small fishing boats. Rest assured, it’s not just an Instagrammer’s dream. Italy’s Amalfi Coast delivers on that oh-so-romantic postcard-perfect vision of rugged cliffs interrupted by small, secluded beaches, not to mention charming historic villas, terraced vineyards and fragrant lemon groves at every turn. The area has all the makings of a romantic escape, an especially great pick for mid-20s couples who are secure enough in their relationship to plan a big trip together. If you only have a week or so to explore, make sure you don’t miss highlights like the towns of Amalfi, Ravello, Positano and Praiano.

Find a gorgeous Amalfi Coast hotel right here. 

LATE-20s

Bali

Popular with Aussies and Europeans for several decades now, we North Americans discovered this Indonesian island paradise a bit late. But oh boy, is Bali worth the daunting 18 hour flight from the West Coast. Bali rolls ancient temples, beachfront raves and Hindu hospitality into one unforgettable getaway. Don’t miss the sunset beach scene in clubby Seminyak, aligning your chakras in Ubud, or hanging with primates at the Sacred Forest Monkey Sanctuary. Plus, now that you’re experiencing the daily grind of working life, you sure could use some rejuvenating yoga, meditation, waterfalls and temples—which you’ll find at every turn.

Oh golly, we’ve got Bali vacation deals right here!

Hawaii

Paradise doesn’t come cheap and our 50th state isn’t exactly a party mecca. That’s why the perfect time to say aloha to Hawaii is when you’re ready to bid adieu to your 20s. Whether trekking the islands solo or having a bae-cation with your sig other, Hawaii highlights include posh resorts and volcano sunrises on Maui, black sand beaches and manta ray night swims on the Big Island, Napali Coast hikes and double waterfalls in Kauai, and killer waves and a killer food scene on Oahu. The beaches come cheap, flights and hotels not so much. But trust us, it’s so worth it.

Book a Hawaii vacation right here.

 

New Orleans

By now, you’ve outgrown the dizzying debauchery of Bourbon Street, but as most Crescent City fans know, that famed cup-strewn thoroughfare doesn’t define New Orleans—not even close. Now that you’re a bit older, enjoy the city’ finer side: Think fine dining at century-old restaurants like Antoine’s or Galatoire’s, or pick from newer faves like Bacchanal, Elizabeth’s or Bayona. Splurge at one of the city’s more interesting hotels like Peter & Paul, which sits in a repurposed church in the Marigny or Magazine Street’s The Eliza Jane, named after the female publisher of the Picayune newspaper, whose offices were once housed there. That said, just because you’re over guzzling booze out of a DayGlo plastic grenade, doesn’t mean the party’s ended. Beyond Mardi Gras, you’ll find the just-as-fun but better behaved Jazz Fest and Voodoo Music Fest, plus Frenchman Street jazz clubs like local fave the Spotted Cat.

Find more great places to stay in New Orleans. 

Utah

One of the many ways the pandemic has changed travel is that it’s made outdoorsmen and women out of almost all of us. And it looks like the trend is here to stay. If this sounds like you, consider a Utah vacation, where you’ll find some of the best skiing in the country just outside of Salt Lake City or further afield in Park City. If slopes aren’t really your thing, or a summer trip’s in the works, plan it around the Mighty Five National Parks instead—that’s Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion. You’ll discover stunning red rock canyons, mesas and sandstone hoodoos, and marvel at famed Mesa Arch, or the biblically named Court of the Patriarchs sandstone cliffs. Hip base camp towns like Moab and Kenab offer plenty to do long after the sun has gone down.

Find plenty of fantastic Utah hotels to choose from here.

Tagged: Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, Destinations, Florida, L.A., Las Vegas, Mexico, New Orleans, New York City, Top 10 list

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

CheapTickets Blog Editors

CheapTickets Blog Editors

CheapTickets editors are a diverse group of writers and bloggers who live and work all over the world and who have a passion for student-friendly budget travel coursing through their veins. Whether it's finding the most Instagrammable yurt in the Coachella Valley or uncovering dirt cheap eats in expensive cities like Tokyo and Paris, our writers take the road less traveled to uncover the world's best deals and destinations.
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Slather on the sunscreen, suck in the belly and order another round of margaritas—this is spring break! But catching rays while hunting for baes doesn’t come cheap, so do yourself a favor and ditch the crowds and save some bucks at these seven cheaper and lower key spring break alternatives.

RELATED: 8 perfect spring break destinations for beach haters

Phoenix vs Las Vegas

Wet Deck at W Scottsdale

Sin City isn’t the only desert hangout with a pool party scene (just ask Maya Day & Nightclub, Wet Deck at the W Scottsdale and Liquid Sunshine at the Hotel Adeline). And it’s certainly not the only town with glitzy casinos (visit Scottsdale’s Talking Stick Resort and Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino, and nearby Lone Butte Casino for gaming action). What Phoenix does boast that Vegas does not is a hikeable mountain smack in the middle of the city (Camelback), a new age mecca a stone’s throw away (Sedona) and hundreds of hotels that don’t charge pesky resort fees.

White Sands National Park vs white sand beaches

White Sands National Park

Spring breakers love to flock to the Florida panhandle for its famous white sand beaches. But if it’s sinking your toes into powdery goodness you seek, newly minted White Sands National Park in New Mexico boasts 250 square miles of crystalline white gypsum sand dunes. Rent a sled at the visitors center and ride the dunes for a day of fun or do as most tourists do and simply Instagram the heck out of the place. Afterward, head to kooky Truth or Consequences and soak in a natural hot springs right on the Rio Grande!

Puerto Rico vs The Bahamas

Condado, San Juan, Puerto Rico

The Bahamas, and by that we mean Nassau, has turned into a full-on spring break hangout in recent years, but we think this island nation is better experienced sans crowds. Instead, barnstorm San Juan for spring break tomfoolery at affordable oceanfront resorts in Condado, barhopping in Old Town and day trips to El Yunque Rainforest for zip line adventures and ATV tours. Pull yourself away from the lively capital long enough to ride a wave at Rincon, eat and drink your way along the seafront boardwalk in Ponce and ditch the crowds with a day at Flamenco Beach on sleepy Culebra island.

Nashville vs New Orleans

Dive Motel and Swim Club

Unstoppable Nashville has become the it party city (just ask every bachelor and bachelorette). This spring break, trade Bourbon Street for Broadway, jazz bars for honky-tonks and muffulettas for hot chicken. If it’s boozy vibes you’re seeking, it’s always beer o’clock at no-worries tropical hangout the Margaritaville Resort, while the disco-infused Dive Motel and Swim Club offers a groovy retro retreat for plugged-in Millennials. Keep the party going at 6th and Peabody, a hybrid brewery, distillery and adult playground a stone’s throw from the trendy Gulch. In April, temps hover in the 70s.

Joshua Tree vs Palm Springs, CA

Joshua Tree National Park

As the Coachella crowd jacks up hotel prices in Palm Springs to sky-high rates, do yourself a favor and beat a laid-back retreat to the communities just outside Joshua Tree National Park. Beyond the park’s prickly desert landscapes, there’s much to see and do. Head to Pioneertown for cowboy vibes and drinks at Wild West honky-tonk Pappy and Harriet’s, snap selfies in front of the world’s largest freestanding boulder, take a “sound bath” at the out-of-this-world Integratron, have fancy bites at roadside eatery La Copine, and hang with Jupiter and Saturn at outdoor observatory Sky’s the Limit. Budget hotels abound in nearby Twentynine Palms and Yucca Valley.

Merida vs Cancun

Celestun

For starters, the cultural capital of Mexico’s Yucantan Peninsula is ranked the second safest city in North America. Merida is also the world’s hacienda capital so book one one that’s been turned into a small hotel for poolside relaxation. Pristine beaches are a short bus ride away in Progresso. Meanwhile, coastal Celestún offers secluded sands, plus swarms of pink flamingoes, UNESCO World Heritage Site Campeche boasts more rainbow-swirled buildings than a pack of Starburst, and Edzna offers the same wondrous Mayan ruins as Chichen Itza, but sans crowds—and for a mere $3.

Tampa/St. Pete vs Miami Beach

St. Pete Beach

From a price standpoint, this one’s a no brainer. On weekends, Tampa‘s funky Ybor City, a former cigar manufacturing neighborhood, resembles Bourbon Street (sans the beads) and offers late-night tomfoolery as far as the feet can stumble. In Seminole Heights, you’ll find crazy fun bars like the Independent, a watering hole located within a converted gas station. Cross the bay and make a beeline for St. Pete Beach, a needle-thin strip of sand, fronted by beachfront and rooftop bars, cheap seafood shacks and colorful resorts and motels anchored by the legendary Don CeSar.

Tagged: Beach, California, Caribbean, Destinations, Events, Florida, Holidays

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

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The Caribbean makes for a dreamy winter escape, with its clear, blue waters, white sand and endless sunshine. But add in an abundance of high-end restaurants and luxury accommodations, and vacationing there might seem out of reach for many. Enter Negril, Jamaica. It’s one of the Caribbean’s most serene tropical destinations, offers some of the best values and some of the best experiences—whether you’re looking for an adventurous escape, a couples getaway or a family vacation.

RELATED: Experience Barbados like pop-icon local Rihanna

Seven Mile Beach Jamaica

Seven Mile Beach, Jamaica

Negril’s beach experiences

Every local in Negril will tell you that Seven Mile Beach is the place to be, and it’s not hard to access either—especially since it stretches for approximately 7 miles! This pristine beach with panoramic ocean views is known for its powder soft sand and calm turquoise waters. Even though this is a beach where you can relax and do nothing at all for hours on end, if you’re traveling with family, you know the kids won’t have that and restlessness is imminent. Fortunately, along the stretch of Seven Mile Beach you will find plenty of water sport offerings including: kayaking, ketskiing, banana boating, scuba diving and much more.

Contrary to its name, Bloody Bay Beach is not some gore-filled coastline. While rumor has it that it the beach is named after a pirate battle from hundreds of years ago, it’s safe to say that the only battle you’ll likely encounter is trying to agree with your traveling companion on the best place to position your lounge chairs! If Snorkeling is your passion, then you’ll be happy to know that Bloody Bay Beach has a wonderful Coral Reef for you to explore.

Kool Runnings Resort

Kool Runnings Resort

For the value-minded adventurer

Just across the street from the luxurious Azul Beach Resort is a water park experience for the entire family, aptly named: Kool Runnings. This water park is the largest in Jamaica and it is loaded with a variety of aquatic offerings like kayaking, rafting and canoeing. Plus, you’ll find seven adrenaline-filled watersides like the Green Grotto, which is a unique 3D virtual reality waterslide. In addition, Kool Runnings offers a human gyroscope experience as well as go-kart racing and paint ball.

YS Falls is a former sugarcane farm estate that’s about 45 minutes from Negril. Here you are able to swim in designated natural pools that are fed by either waterfalls or underground springs (the latter of which is ideal for children). You can also experience a scenic canopy ride which will take you from the top of the falls to the base camp.

A favorite for tourists visiting Negril is Rick’s Cafe. Even though this is a lively restaurant and bar, you’ll quickly find that people come here to take advantage of cliff diving—while also watching beginners and professionals cliff dive. You’re welcome to dive as much as you’d like, at no cost. FYI: The shortest cliff dive is 10 feet while the highest is 40 feet.

Caribbean style jerk chicken served with rice

Caribbean-style jerk chicken served with rice

A culinary paradise

Jamaica is known for its cuisine which utilizes a wide variety of fresh ingredients to create bold flavors. This is especially true with restaurants in Negril. Some of the best gastronomic experiences can be found in independently-owned restaurants which are not housed within hotels.

If you enjoy barbecued meats, then you’ll love the offering at 3 Dives Jerk Centre. This restaurant serves up some of the best tasting jerk chicken in Negril. The pricing of a meal here is very affordable, with  a 1/2 chicken meal with rice and veggies ringing in at about $9. As a bonus, if you visit here at dusk, you will experience one of the best sunsets in the world while having a meal at 3 Dives!

Facing the cliffs on Negril’s West End Road is a homely-looking building that’s red in color with a tin roof- but don’t judge a book by its cover, because this restaurant is an ABSOLUTE MUST when visiting Negril: Murphy’s West End. Owner/Chef Leniel Ennis’ establishment serves up some of the best Seafood meals – with generous portions – in Jamaica. Everything, including the Lobster Alfredo and the Curry Shrimp is a triumph! Murphy’s also serves up some of traditional Jamaican cuisine such as Rice & Peas so you can enjoy an unparalleled Jamaican dining experience—at a reasonable price (a full lobster dinner for two typically costs about $110 per couple).

Azul Beach Resort

Azul Beach Resort

A Place to call home….away from home

The all-inclusive Azul Beach Resort by Karisma is a great value. This luxury family resort is ideal for those who just want to get away from it all and not deal with having to worry about how much your wallet has been drained for meals and drinks. Just imagine, you and your family can eat all you want—any time of the day–while enjoying the luxury offerings and water activities of the resort. And if you want to take advantage of a spa treatment, the pricing for those services are very attractive.

If you’re traveling as a couple and want to keep the romance front and center of your vacation, Couples Negril is ideal for you. The all-inclusive aspect of this property is designed to keep couples focused on their romance and not on their wallets. Enjoy fine dining, alcoholic drinks, activities and much more at this adults-only resort.

Tagged: Beach, Caribbean, Destinations, Jamaica, Types of Travel

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

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With cold temperatures and record-setting snow plaguing much of the country this month, spring break is on just about everyone’s minds right now. But while it’s tempting to book a warm weather getaway ASAP,  CheapTickets data shows that this year it pays to procrastinate.

RELATED:  7 pool parties that’ll make your spring break

 

We used CheapTickets booking data to compare seven different booking windows for spring break (March 1 – March 31, 2019) and found that travelers who wait and book just one week out could save 16% on hotels and 20% or more on packages, compared with the average price for the month.

“A lot of travelers have been trained to book trips within that 21- to 30-day timeframe for the biggest savings,” says Justine McDonald, travel expert at CheapTickets. “But this is the first spring break season where the data is proving it pays to wait and book last minute.”

 

We also used CheapTickets booking data to examine the best budget friendly destinations for spring break, sharing some of the cheapest places to travel throughout the month of March. Travelers who book spring break a little later this year can find hotels for $125 or less in hot spots like Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Austin and Jacksonville. Vacation packages to San Francisco, Charleston and Kyoto, Japan also topped the list at $1,500 or less.

“From bucket list destinations like Peru, Japan and Spain to great vacations closer to home in ski country or California—there’s something for every traveler at a price they can afford this year,” said McDonald.

Data shows that hotel deals abound in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

How to save

Travelers who take advantage of CheapTickets’ advice to book spring break hotels and packages a little later this year can save even more with a few last-minute promo codes. Save an extra 16% on select hotels booked March 4–31 with the code SPRINGBREAK, or take $75 off vacation packages (flight and hotel) with the code VACAY75. The package promo code is good for any destination, excluding Las Vegas.

The promo codes above can also be used on trips booked through the site’s new budget friendly search tool, Vacation Value Finder. Vacation goers start by entering their budget and the type of trip they want—hot or cold, romantic or family friendly, beach or city center, relaxing or active. The search tool then populates trip itineraries at that price point or less, based on their location and preferences.

“The tool is designed to help users find new destinations and trip ideas based on what they can actually afford—not just what they think they can afford,” said McDonald. “That benefits not just travelers, but smaller and mid-size cities, too, which offer great deals but may not be top of mind for people.”

Tagged: Cheap Tips, Flights, Tips & advice

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

CheapTickets Blog Editors

CheapTickets Blog Editors

CheapTickets editors are a diverse group of writers and bloggers who live and work all over the world and who have a passion for student-friendly budget travel coursing through their veins. Whether it's finding the most Instagrammable yurt in the Coachella Valley or uncovering dirt cheap eats in expensive cities like Tokyo and Paris, our writers take the road less traveled to uncover the world's best deals and destinations.
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Beach haters, we see you. While the rest of us swoon about our oceanfront vacations, you’re cringing at the thought of homicidal seagulls, painful sunburns and sand in your pants. Not to worry: If you’re in search of warm-weather minus the sand, these spring break destinations are far from the beach, but close to plenty of action so you can live it up without the awkward tan lines.

RELATED: 7 pool parties that totally own spring break

The Easter Bunny takes his annual ride down New Orleans’s famed Bourbon Street. | Flickr photo by Sean Connors

New Orleans, LA

In between the madness of Mardi Gras and the sweltering Bayou summer lies a perfect time to visit N’awlins. The city loves a parade, and Easter Sunday (Apr 1, 2018) brings at least three through the French Quarter, along with a public Easter egg hunt in City Park. Next up, enjoy the French Quarter Festival (Apr 12–15, 2018), a cultural smorgasbord featuring concerts, dance lessons, public lectures and films—all for free. The event includes countless food and drink vendors, so plan to work off those po’boys and crawfish rolls with a hike around Lafitte Greenway.

Washington, DC

You could spend your entire spring break working your way through the nation’s museums, but then you’d squander DC’s glorious springtime weather. Agree on a few indoor attractions for your itinerary, and spend the rest of your time outside. Pose for selfies at the monuments, ride the carousel on the National Mall, visit the National Zoo and catch a Washington Nationals baseball game. Even your meals can be had outdoors; how about a picnic on the mall or dinner al fresco in Dupont Circle?

View from Chapultepec Park

Mexico City, Mexico

Skip Cancun’s party scene and opt for a more sophisticated spring break in Mexico’s capital—preferably during the festivities of Semana Santa (Mar 25–31, 2018), but really anytime. In spring, high temperatures hover around 80 degrees, so spend the morning exploring the zoo and castle at Chapultepec Park or the archaeological site Teotihuacan. Then as the weather heats up, dip into an indoor attraction like the National Museum of Anthropology or the Frida Kahlo Museum.

As if gorgeous flowers weren’t enough, the Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest includes wine tastings, a trail run, kids’ activities and more. Photo | Bobby Riggs/Flickr.

Portland, OR

Who says spring break has to be Southern? The Pacific Northwest is ripe for exploring this time of year, with average high temps around 60 degrees—ideal for browsing the open-air Portland Saturday Market or touring 40 Instagram-worthy acres of flowers during the Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest (March 23–April 29, 2018). Rainy-day contingencies abound, like the Portland Children’s Museum, Oregon Museum of Science & Industry and a handful of “play cafes” that offer space for kids to burn energy while parents get their caffeine fix. Try a new restaurant during Portland Dining Month (March 2018), when three-course meals start at $33. If you really want to chill out, drive 90 miles east to Mount Hood, where some ski lifts operate year-round.

ALSO: Book now to earn CheapCash, good towards thousands of hotels nowhere near the beach.

Memphis, TN

Skip the beer-soaked spring break music festivals in favor of a hickory-smoked good time in this barbecue and music mecca. Mild temperatures are perfect for events like the Silky O’Sullivan St. Patrick’s Day Parade on legendary Beale Street (March 17, 2018), Memphis Fashion Week (Apr 11–14, 2018) and the home opener of the AAA Memphis Redbirds baseball team (April 10, 2018).

Grand Canyon, AZ

If you can’t stand crowds, then definitely steer clear of the Grand Canyon in summer. Instead, check this marvel off your bucket list in springtime, traveling from the town of Williams to the main attraction via the delightful Grand Canyon Railway. In March and April, high temperatures in the 50s and 60s are perfect for working up a sweat as you hike the Rim Trail. Parents can even sneak in some learning during spring break by enrolling kids in the Junior Ranger programs.

Flickr CC: Woody Hibbard

Austin, TX

Let’s start with the obvious: South by Southwest. The annual music/film/tech/awesomeness assembly happens Mar 9–13, 2018, in and around the Austin Convention Center. But that’s not the only draw to the Texas capital this time of year. Events like the contemporary art festival known as Art City Austin (Mar 30–Apr 1, 2018) and Rodeo Austin (Mar 3–24, 2018) make this trendy Texas town a worthy spring break destination for college students and families alike.

Spring is in bloom at Walt Disney World’s Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. Photo | Jared/Flickr

Orlando, FL

If you want balmy temperatures without the beach, then Central Florida in spring is just the ticket. Before the Sunshine State’s festival season gives way to summer humidity, it goes all out with events like Mardi Gras at Universal Studios Florida (Feb 3–Apr 7, 2018), SeaWorld’s Seven Seas Food Festival (Feb 17–Apr 15, 2018) and the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival (Feb 28–May 28, 2018). If theme parks aren’t your scene, then stay cool downtown when you explore the Orlando Science Center, peddle a swan boat around Lake Eola Park or take in Church Street nightlife.

Tagged: Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, City, Destinations, Events, Family, Florida, Holidays, New Orleans, Seasonal, Texas, Top 10 list, Types of Travel, Washington DC

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The perfect spring break starts with three things: location, location… and price. By choosing a hotel that’s near the action but not smack-dab in the center of it, you’ll save a few bucks, and maybe—just maybe—get some sleep at night. Check out these 7 hotels that are within a stone’s throw of major spring break action, but won’t bust your bank account.

RELATED: 15 totally incredible Florida hotel pools

Photo courtesy of the Freehand

Freehand: Miami Beach, FL
This Instagram-worthy hostel is redefining shared accommodation for the budget crowd. Its rooms are bright, airy and contemporary, its pool scene lively and its onsite cocktail lounge Broken Shaker is the place to see and be seen. Given that Mid-Beach has been blowing up lately (don’t miss celebrity gazing at the new Faena Hotel or brunch at Soho House) we would hardly call this one out of the way, but if you are a South Beach devotee you can rest assured it’s less than a mile away via taxi, ride share or bicycle, which you can rent on site. Choose from a hostel room with a shared bathroom, or a private guest room.

Photo courtesy of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino: Las Vegas, NV
What happens in Vegas costs less if you stay off  the Strip. Luckily, there are a ton of hotels near South Las Vegas Blvd that won’t leave you feeling like you’re stuck at the kids’ table. A stellar choice is Hard Rock Hotel, with its trendy decor,  weekly “Rehab” pool party and endless entertainment (Magic Mike Live, anyone?). A great value for being just 1 from the action, the hotel offers a shuttle between 10am and 5pm that’ll drop you off mid-Strip at Fashion Show Mall. After that, your hotel is just a short Uber ride away.

Photo courtesy of the Acacia Hotel

Acacia Boutique Hotel: San Juan, Puerto Rico
The popular Condado Beach area is packed with places to stay. Avoid the hubbub when you stay in the district’s quiet side at this boutique hotel that blends colonial, tropical and modern design. It’s set back from the action but close enough that you can walk to the beach, shopping and nightlife. The pool, free wi-fi and on-site bar make Acacia a nice place to unwind when you’re all turnt up.

Photo courtesy of the B Resort

B Resort and Spa: Orlando, FL
Now that Disney ticket prices are sittin’ pretty in the triple digits, families need to watch every penny, so there’s still room in the budget for some Mickey ice cream bars. Thankfully, the newest resort in Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) keeps you close to the action without making you feel like you’ve been pick-pocketed by the Seven Dwarfs. Features like kitchenettes, sleeper sofas and bunk beds make B Resort a bargain for families, while modern guest rooms, a farm-to-table restaurant and spa keep the grown-ups happy. And of course there’s a free shuttle transportation to all the Disney parks; Magic Kingdom is just 8 miles away.

ALSO: Spring into a better spring break by grabbing CheapCash!

Photo courtesy of the La Copa Inn

La Copa Inn Beach Hotel: South Padre Island, TX
They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and Padre Island is party central for one of the country’s largest spring break bashes. The heart of the action is Padre Boulevard, home of the multi-day Ultimate Music Experience at Clayton’s Outdoors Beach Bar. On the same street take in even more concerts throughout March, as Isla Grand Hotel & Resort Beach hosts sets by rapper 2 Chainz, country crooner Cole Swindell and EDM trio Cash Cash. You’ll have enough money for souvenirs when you stay just 4 miles south at the beachfront La Copa Inn, which features a waterfront restaurant, water sports and a Starbucks to cure what ails you.

Photo courtesy of the Cabo Inn Hotel

Cabo Inn Hotel: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Spring breakers descend upon Medano Beach to revel in the mayhem at Mango Deck Restaurant, Bar & Beach Club; cool with a raspado (snow cone) from a beachfront vendor; and dance the night away at Nikki Beach Club and Passion Lounge. But no need to stay in party central to take advantage of oceanfront cantinas, watersports and shopping. When you just can’t party no more, walk less than 15 minutes to Cabo Inn Hotel, where you can choose from a standard room, suite or open-air Mexican palapa; some setups sleep up to six people, so your squad can save even more bucks.

Photo courtesy of the Emporio

Emporio Hotel & Suites Cancun: Cancun, Mexico
Zona Hotelera is the epicenter of Cancun’s oceanfront hotels, but beachfront Emporio Hotel is less than a 15-minute cab ride from the airport, shopping, restaurants and all the action. It’s also within walking distance of cultural attractions like Maya Cancun Museum and San Miguelito archaeological site. When you know you’re saving money, the turquoise waters will seem extra-blue and the sand will feel even softer.

Tagged: Beach, Caribbean, Family, Florida, Las Vegas, Mexico, Texas

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Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips. This post was updated February 17, 2021.

While everybody loves the idea of getting away to somewhere warm, spring break can conjure images of shrieking, thumping bar scenes, Jell-O shot contests and beaches so overrun you can’t take a selfie without being photobombed. But it doesn’t have to. This year, skip the usual spring break cliches by heading for one of these less-crowded American spring break beaches.

RELATED: 7 pool parties that rule spring break 

Caladesi Island State Park, Florida 

Orbitz-Florida-Caladesi

Caladesi Island State Park. Credit Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater.

In 2008, famed coastal researcher Stephen “Dr. Beach” Leatherman christened this Dunedin, Florida, beach America’s best. But what keeps it less crowded than nearby Clearwater Beach is that you have to take a ferry from Dunedin to get there. It’s worth it, though, for a Gulf of Mexico getaway where soft, white sand and wildlife meet modern amenities including a snack bar and gift shop.

St. Simons Island, Georgia

Orbitz-George-StSimons

St. Simons Island, Georgia. Credit Ralph Daily/Flickr.

Avoid the Florida beach scene altogether by heading one state to the north. Take a sailing lesson, try dirt track racing at Golden Isles Speedway or climb the 129 steps to the top of the historic St. Simons Island Lighthouse. Even if you don’t fish, take time to appreciate the view from the St. Simons Island Pier while you’re downtown shopping or grabbing a bite to eat.

Leo Carrillo State Park, California

CheapTickets-California-Leo Carrillo State Park

Leo Carrillo State Park in Malibu, California. Credit Joseph Voves/Flickr.

This Malibu beach makes a nice retreat from the hubbub of nearby Santa Monica. Named for an actor an preservationist, the beach is home to tidepools and sea caves that set the scene for a laid-back getaway. Pitch a tent, light a campfire and forget all about finals week.

Padre Island National Seashore, Texas

Padre Island, Texas

Padre Island, Texas

If boozy South Padre Island leaves you with a hangover, then the cure is just plain Padre Island Corpus Christi. Settle in for 70 miles of undeveloped coastline, where you’re likely to see more pelicans and turtles than rowdy coeds. Windsurfing, kayaking and camping on the beach make for a spring break you’ll actually remember.

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

CheapTickets-Delaware-Rehoboth Beach

Rehoboth Beach,Delaware. Credit Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue/Flickr.

Located about 120 miles east of Baltimore, this resort town makes for a nice alternative to the usual spring break sites. Browse the downtown boutiques or take a shuttle to Tanger Outlets for some serious retail therapy. The area also has plenty of food options to fit a college student’s budget, from Grotto Pizza to Dolle’s Popcorn, Candy and Saltwater Taffy. For cheap entertainment, check the concert schedule at the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand.

Long Beach, New York

CheapTickets-NY-Long Beach

Long Beach, New York. Credit Shinya Suzuki/Flickr.

You don’t need Hamptons money to enjoy a beach vacation off the shores of the Long Island. Long Beach is less than an hour’s ride on the Long Island Rail Road, making it easily accessible from Manhattan. Stroll, jog or bike along the boardwalk before grabbing a meal from a pushcart vendor. By day, try surfing or beach volleyball, then change into your going-out clothes and hit up the area’s many bars.

Folly BeachSouth Carolina

Folly Beach, South Carolin

Folly Beach, South Carolina | Flickr CC: H. Michael Miley

No mistake about it. This surf town just 15 minutes outside of Charleston oozes with Southern charm. Expect the usual water sports, fishing and nightlife you’d find in any beach town, but also saveroom for a bowl of shrimp and grits of she-crab soup.

Atlantic BeachNorth Carolina

CheapTickets-NC-Atlantic Beach

Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. Credit James Willamor/Flickr.

The state’s so-called Crystal Coastmakes for a gem of a getaway. Try paddleboarding, cruise around the island on a rented bicycle or ride Island Ferry Adventures Ferry Service around to the Rachel Carson Reserve, where you might just see ponies frolicking on the shore. Now that’s what we call a wild spring break.

Grand Isle, Louisiana

Pier at Grand Isle, Louisiana

While the majority of spring break revelers stick to New Orleans, head about 100 miles south to this haven from the Crescent City. Lounge on the seven-mile stretch of white sand beaches or get your blood pumping at Wake Side Wake Board Park, where a system of cables pulls you as you wakeboard, tube or waterski.

Oahu, Hawaii

CheapTickets-Hawaii-Oahu

Hanauma Bay in Oahu, Hawaii. Credit Wikipedia.

A Hawaiian island may sound out of reach for a college student’s budget, but if you can score a cheap plane ticket, then there’s plenty of bargain fun to be had. Catch a free performance by the Royal Hawaiian Band on the grounds of ‘Iolani Palace; take a complimentary hula, ukulele or lei-making lesson at Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center or remind yourself that pineapples aren’t just for cocktails when you wander through the Dole Plantation’s enormous maze. And we haven’t even mentioned the beach yet. We hear Hawaii has some pretty nice ones.

Tagged: Beach, California, Florida, Hawaii, New York City

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Florida is the perfect place to escape in February, when the cold is unrelenting and the spring is still too far off. This time of year, though, just dipping south of the border won’t be enough. You’ve got to go deep into Florida to get the warmth, and there’s no better place for that than Fort Myers Beach in February.

Southwest Florida International Airport

A view of the Southwest Florida International Airport. Photo: Eric Salard – Flickr

Plane, train or automobile — Fort Myers is so far south that driving isn’t a great option, unless you are down for a road trip. The closest airport to Fort Myers Beach is Southwest Florida International Airport. It’s a 30-40 minute drive from the airport to the beach, and taxis will run upwards of $50, so renting a car for your time at the beach may be the best bet — it’ll give you freedom to get around quickly so you don’t waste any valuable beach time.

 

Bike by a beach

Renting bikes is an option in Fort Myers. Photo: FaceMePLS – Flickr

Cheap local transit — If you don’t end up renting a car, there’s a trolley that goes up and down Estero Boulevard on Fort Myers Beach that costs 50 cents a ride. There are also a slew of bike rental shops along the beach as well. Otherwise, just walk along the beach to get where you need to go.

Stay on Estero — The hotels and resorts lining Estero Boulevard on Fort Myers Beach are seemingly endless, leaving for plenty of room to play with your budget. February isn’t full-fledged Spring Break season yet, either, so there are still deals to be had when it comes to accommodations. The best thing to do is take some buddies and chip in for a room with a kitchenette. That way, you can buy some groceries at the local Publix and save money by eating breakfast and lunch at home while dashing back and forth from the beach.

Fort Myers Beach, Florida

A sunset on Fort Myers Beach. Photo: Ally Marotti

Watch the sunset — When visiting the Gulf side of Florida, this really needs to be made into an event. Since you’re facing west out to sea, you can watch the sun go down over the water. Itis also a good time to spot dolphins in the surf. It’s a beautiful sight and the sun on the water creates some unforgettable lighting, so make sure to snap a few photos. Be careful though, the sun dips below that horizon quick. Don’t miss it.

 Bum at a beach bar — If you get a little thirsty while basking in the sun, take a stroll down toward the pier. Whichever side you’re coming from, you are bound to find at least a couple of options for places that don’t care if you aren’t wearing a shirt or shoes. Just make sure to remember an ID.

Mini golf

A lion statue at Jungle Golf in Fort Myers. Photo: Ally Marotti

Make it mini-golf — Spike your night with a little competition at mini-golf. You’ll have to go back over the bridge to the mainland, then there are plenty of putt-putting options. Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf is pirate themed, and one of the holes is on a mini pirate ship with baby alligators in the water surrounding it. If that one’s too crowded, try Jungle Golf right next door, which is peppered with statues of jungle animals.

Ice cream

Superman ice cream from Kilwin’s. Photo: Carl Lender – Flickr

Eat ice cream on the pier — Kilwin’s Chocolates has the richest, most delicious ice cream around. Grab a couple scoops and walk out to the end of the pier to indulge. Maybe catch the sunset out there, or watch some of the fishermen haul in their catch. If Kilwin’s doesn’t suit your fancy, there’s a Dairy Queen nearby, along with a couple other ice cream and fudge shops.

Doc Ford's

A view of the harbor from the deck at Doc Ford’s seafood restaurant in Fort Myers, Florida. Photo: Ally Marotti

Dine on the dock — Doc Ford’s seafood restaurant overlooks Matanza’s Harbor, and we recommend sitting outside. You can catch glimpses of dolphins frolicking in the harbor during dinner. While you’re waiting for your food, check out some of Doc Ford’s books in the gift shop: the restaurateur is also a prolific writer, with scores of books written about life in south Florida.

Tagged: Florida, Off-season

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Cancellations and delays. Courtesy of Chris Waits.

Cancellations and delays. Courtesy of Chris Waits.

When mother nature gives you heavy rain or high winds, airports get flight delays andcancellations. This could be a blessing or a curse for the casual traveler who was just trying to escape to some warmth over the weekend. When you get that notification from your airline saying your flight home has been canceled, you are either celebrating because you get more time in the sunshine, or weeping as you worry about the extra day’s effects on your wallet. Airlines are not required to compensate its customers for any extra costs incurred due to a delay or cancellation. They are even less likely to do so if those delays and cancellations are caused by something they cannot control, such as the weather. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your extra days in a cheap way.

Remain calm.

This may seem obvious, but it will go a long way in making the scheduling debacle work in your favor. Stay optimistic, and look at this as an opportunity for more time on vacation, not a huge disturbance in your schedule. If you panic and get upset with the airlines, not only are you making things harder on yourself, you probably aren’t helping the airline out very much either. Be cool, and let them find you an alternative return flight. If you try to take things into your own hands and book another flight, you are likely to end up paying more. The airline you were originally scheduled to fly also may not give you your money back. So let them do their thing while you sit back with your toes in the sand.

Look twice for lodging.

Vacancy. Courtesy of Lauren Mitchell.

Vacancy. Courtesy of Lauren Mitchell.

This may fall into the “remain calm” category, but when you are scrambling to find somewhere to stay after you find your flight is cancelled, do not pick the first room that pops up on a google search. It will be tempting because the pressure is on, but investing some time in the search will save you in the long run. Some airlines may offer to help compensate, but don’t count on it. The rates at some hotels skyrocket if you book the day of, but others drop as hotels struggle to fill vacancies. Take your time and find one of those options. Check search engines such as Cheaptickets.com that will do some of the leg work for you.

Keep your eyes on the skies.

A snowy O’Hare International Airport. Courtesy of Cliff.

A snowy O’Hare International Airport. Courtesy of Cliff.

If your flight was delayed because of weather, chances are dozens of other flights were delayed as well. Depending on the size of the storm that hit your home airport, it may take a couple of days to get things flowing smoothly again, meaning more delays in the days following the original cancellation. As a traveler, you are basically at the mercy of the airlines in this department, but being aware of the higher possibility of another delay can help save you money. Make time to eat a meal before going to the airport, and stock up on a couple snacks for the voyage home. That way, if you do end up getting stranded in the airport for hours, you are not forced to choose between starving and forking out $10 for bag of Cheez-Its.

Spend time outside.

The hike to Alamere Falls in Point Reyes National Seashore in California. Courtesy of Alexi Ueltzen.

The hike to Alamere Falls in Point Reyes National Seashore in California. Courtesy of Alexi Ueltzen.

One of the reasons the great outdoors is so great is because it’s free. If you spent a weekend full of activities that were accounted for in your travel budget, take your extra day or two to deviate from the expected. Explore the nature of whatever area you are stranded in, and enjoy the climate before you are shipped back to the frigid north. If the beach was your main draw south in the first place and you’ve had enough sun, check out a nearby town. Do some window shopping and see the sights.

Cut down on transportation costs.

Bike share in San Jose, California. Courtesy of Don DeBold.

Bike share in San Jose, California. Courtesy of Don DeBold.

When planning out your extra time, account for the fact that you probably do not have a car. Pick a spot you can head to in the morning and remain at for most ofthe day, cutting down on transportation costs. Renting a car for an extra day can tack a pretty penny onto your budget. Ask your airline about accommodating you with a rental car, but it is unlikely they would provide you one free of charge. If your location allows, check into alternative transportation such as Car2Go or a bike rental. Most cities with bike rental programs rarely charge more than a dozen dollars a day.

Tagged: Beach, Cheap Tips, Family, Flights, Florida, Food & drink, FREE!, Last minute travel, Tips & advice

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.