Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

Two Minute Tips

Last-minute spring break travel deals

February 24, 2015

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With spring break fast approaching, it’s not too late for college students (and wanna-be college students) to book a trip that won’t break the bank. Airline fares and resorts often raise prices in response to basic supply and demand, but there are ways to get around this.

First, decide where you want to go.  For ideas, try Trip Advisor’s Travel Inspiration. From the menu, select What You Like, then Where You Want to Go. I clicked on Beaches and Sun, then Caribbean. It not only listed all the islands, but offered links to history and culture, hotels and flights.

Next, check out prices. Once you know where you’re going, check out some popular travel aggregator websites to look at prices.

The Last Minute Deals tab at Travelzoo lists trips to plenty of warm-weather spots like Las Vegas, the Dominican Republic and the Cayman Islands. Another option is Orbitz, which has a section just for spring break vacations. Options include Mexico, California, Florida, the Caribbean and Costa Rica. And Expedia has a section offering last-minute deals that include flight and hotel. Kayak also offers amazing flight/hotel packages to all your favorite warm-weather destinations.

Look at deals sites. If you’re willing to pay up front,  Groupon and Living Social offer amazing deals, most of which include airfare from gateway cities. Groupon Getaways currently has a deal posted for an all-inclusive Dominican Republic vacation with airfare starting at $499. You can also choose your travel dates and destinations for even more deals.

Under Living Social Escapes, I clicked on Beaches, because it was 9 degrees when I woke up this morning. There was a deal for an eight-day trip to Costa Rica that included flight, hotel and rental car for $930.

Mystery discounts. You can always find a good vacation deal on Priceline or Hotwire. I saw a last-minute, five-day trip from Washington, D.C., to the Caribe Hilton in Puerto Rico for $695. Under Hotwire Vacations, I managed to snag a five-day stay and airfare at the iconic Collins Hotel in Miami for only $624. And both sites also have bargain-basement rates to four- and five-star hotels and resorts if you don’t need airfare.

Lodging-only. AirBnB offers everything from a room, an entire apartment or even a townhouse or home. A room in the Desert Foothills near Phoenix (with access to pool and hot tub) was $49 a night. Just remember that some municipalities have been cracking down on the sharing site, and be sure to read the fine print.

Let someone else decide. Finally, if you’re feeling really adventurous, there are websites that will choose places for you to go based on location and/or price. At Skyscanner.com, you type in a destination and travel dates, and it will spit out airfares. Once you choose a flight, it will automatically allow you to book a hotel. Momondo’s Trip Finder will suggest destinations from your hometown based on the type of vacation you want and how much you want to spend. Student Universe offers a similar experience with its FarePlay function.

STORY IDEAS

Trip Advisor’s Travel Inspiration

Travelzoo

Orbitz

Expedia

Groupon Getaways

Living Social Escapes

Priceline

Hotwire

Air BnB

Skyscanner

Momondo

Student Universe

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