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I don’t know who needs to hear this, but you deserve a break. The good news is even with rising prices everywhere, these cheap spring break ideas will help you book an affordable vacation packed with family fun.
The key to budget-friendly family travel is to keep costs low across the board, starting with the cheapest places to travel and the best tools to book your stay. Because whether you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, a thrill-filled trip to theme parks, or a relaxing stay at the beach, there’s always a way to avoid overpaying.
From booking hotels and Airbnb homes for under $100 a night to finding free things to do and discounts on top attractions, use these cheap spring break ideas to turn your dream trip into reality.
Already have ideas in mind? Scroll ahead to one of these sections for the best spring break travel tips:
- Finding Cheap Hotels and Rental Homes
- Beach Vacations
- Camping & RVing
- National Parks
- Amusement Parks
How to Find Hotels and Rental Homes for Cheap Spring Break Ideas
1. Search for hotels on Trivago to compare rates across all the top booking sites.
Finding cheap places to stay starts with the right booking site. There are LOTS of them out there, and not all are great.
When I book hotel rooms, I always go to Trivago and Booking.com first. I like Trivago the best because they compare rates across a bunch of different travel companies, then show you where to book for the best price.
Here’s how to use Trivago to find the cheapest hotels for spring break:
- Visit Trivago.com (or download the free Trivago app)
- Search your destination and travel dates
- Filter by: Customer Rating – 7.5+ (just to weed out the really bad ones)
- Sort by: Price Only (to see the lowest prices first in the list)
You can also set your max price to $100 and see all the cheapest hotels together.
2. Find cheap spring break ideas and tropical vacation packages on CheapCaribbean.com.
CheapCarrbbean.com is a great place to find dirt-cheap vacation packages in the Caribbean and Mexico. They have thousands of deals for all-inclusive resorts and let you bundle your flight and hotel booking into one discounted price. You can even book cruises for up to 80% off normal rates.
FYI — April is one of the best times to visit the Caribbean islands, so naturally, it’s the perfect place to go for spring break.
3. Yes, house swapping is a thing, but you have to pay to join a community of swappers.
If you’ve ever seen the movie The Holiday, where Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet swap houses, you’ve probably wondered if such a thing exists. Well, it does! But house swapping isn’t as easy as it looks on the big screen.
You typically have to join a house-swapping community and pay to be a member. Then you can swap houses with other members of the same community. Two of the most popular house-swapping programs are Love Home Swap and People Like Us.
- Love Home Swap: Memberships range from $11 to $15 per month, billed annually.
- People Like Us: Memberships range from $75 to $95 per year, depending on how many years you sign on.
When you compare these prices to hotel and vacation home rates, you could save a lot of money, even on a single trip. However, it takes time to build a relationship with other swappers and find ones who want to stay in your home for the same travel dates. So house swapping CAN be a cheap alternative, but it takes some effort to really benefit.
4. Book a 4-person stay for under $100 per night on Airbnb. Here’s how:
It’s easy to find cheap Airbnb homes in the U.S. for spring break 2023 — all for under $100 per night. Here’s how I found them:
- Head to Airbnb.com (or download the free Airbnb app).
- Type in your travel destination, trip dates, and guests (if you’re open to ideas, enter “United States” for your location to browse cross-country or “I’m Flexible” for options all over the globe).
- Use the “Filters” button to narrow your search — check off “Entire Place” and set your “Max Price” to $100.
You can also filter your search more by property type, location, amenities, and other preferences for more cheap spring break ideas.
5. Narrow your Airbnb search by the stay and experience you’re looking for.
Airbnb has upped their game with more personalized results and tools to explore different places. Want to stay in a treehouse? Tent? Tiny home? A cabin or a castle? No problem. If you’re open to cheap spring break ideas, use Airbnb’s filters and search options to find the perfect trip for your family.
As you search Airbnb listings, look for the tiny gray icons at the top of the results page. These are how you’ll find different stays based on the experience you have in mind. Swipe horizontally through the gray icons to see all the options, and click or tap on any that catch your eye.
6. Check vacation home prices on both Airbnb and Vrbo to see which is cheaper.
When you compare the total price of a 6-night stay with fees included, here’s what it costs you on Airbnb vs. Vrbo:
|Price Per Night||$200||$180|
|Total Price for 6 Nights (before taxes)||$1,541||$1,378|
In this case, you’ll save $163 if you book with Vrbo. I’ve also experienced the same situation but flipped, where Airbnb had the lower overall price for the same home. So be sure to check both platforms to find the best deal.
7. HotelTonight is the king of last-minute stays at unbeatable nightly rates.
HotelTonight is a hidden gem for booking last-minute hotels for extra cheap. And when I say cheap, I mean 4-star hotels for 70 bucks a night — cheap.
As the name implies, HotelTonight was designed to give you last-minute deals for THAT night. But they still let you search for and book hotels up to three months in advance. You won’t get the same last-minute deals, but you’ll still find low prices.
The more you book with HotelTonight, the more discounts you’ll get. Spend $250 and get bumped up to Level 2 — where you’ll save an extra 5% on hotel rates. And the perks go up from there.
TIP: You can “watch” a HotelTonight search and get notified about price drops. Tap the little bell icon in the top right corner of the app to “watch” a search, and be sure to turn on push notifications for updates.
Cheap Beach Vacation Ideas
What better way to spend the week than at the beach? You don’t have to stay in a dumpy hotel to do a beach trip on a budget. From beachfront hotels for under $100 a night to free things to do with the family, these are our best cheap spring break ideas for the beach.
8. Pay as low as $92 per night for a beachfront hotel in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Virginia Beach is a great family-friendly beach vacation you can do on a budget. While the ocean waters in April are too chilly for swimming, there are plenty of other cheap activities to explore in the area.
Ride an open-cockpit plane at the Military Aviation Museum, walk the 3-mile Virginia Beach Boardwalk (which is packed with attractions), discover thrills and entertainment at Atlantic Fun Park, or explore a bunch of free things to do in Virginia Beach.
Where to Stay for Cheap: Post up beachfront at the Oceanaire Resort for as low as $92 per night (current rate on Priceline.com).
9. Head to San Diego and hit the beach, SeaWorld, and the San Diego Zoo in one cheap trip.
On top of the beautiful beaches and fairly cheap hotel rates, it’s easy to save on San Diego’s most popular attractions. Take the Go San Diego Pass, for example. Buy one of these passes, and you’ll get access to multiple San Diego attractions for one extremely discounted price. BOOM! The search for cheap spring break ideas is over.
A 3-Choice Explorer Pass, which costs $109 per adult and $79 per child, gets you admission to three popular attractions of your choice. So your picks could look like this:
- Legoland (normal ticket value: $119)
- SeaWorld San Diego (normal ticket value: $99.99)
- San Diego Zoo (normal ticket value: $67)
You’d pay a total of $286 per person if you bought each ticket separately, but you’ll save 60% – 70% with a Go San Diego Pass. Oh, and did I mention you’ll save an extra 10% on your passes if you buy them online?
Where to Stay for Cheap: The Days Inn San Diego is nicer than most of its kind, and you can stay in a double queen room for as low as $122 per night. The hotel (which has a pool, by the way) is in the Mission Valley area, and it’s an easy drive to beaches, SeaWorld, and the San Diego Zoo.
10. Explore endless activities for the whole fam in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina — and book a hotel on the beach for $89 per night.
Take a walk on the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk (free) for 1.2 miles of cheap restaurants, souvenir shops, penny arcade games, and SO much more. You’ll also stumble upon a SkyWheel, a haunted house, a slingshot thrill ride, and a “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” museum.
Don’t leave Myrtle Beach without hitting the Tanger Factory Outlets for a budget-friendly shopping spree. It’s loaded with outlet stores like Gap, J. Crew, Bath & Body Works, Lululemon, Michael Kors, The North Face, and more.
Where to Stay for Cheap: One of the most affordable options is the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel, located right in front of the white, sandy beaches. It has impressive customer ratings for a 3-star hotel (8.3/10 from 1,600+ reviews), and you’ll pay as low as $89 per night.
11. For cheap beach vacations outside the U.S., go to the Dominican Republic.
If you’re looking for international spring break ideas, the Dominican Republic is one of the most affordable beach destinations. Airfare and hotels are relatively cheap across the island. If you’re looking for pristine beaches for kicking back and relaxing, head to Punta Cana or Puerto Plata. If you’d rather explore rich art, history, and culture, visit Santo Domingo.
Where to Stay for Cheap: Stay in a luxury apartment at the Stanza Mare Beach Front in Punta Cana for as low as $94 a night. Or stay at the 5-Star Barcelo in Santo Domingo, located right in the city’s center.
12. Or book a cheap Carnival cruise to Mexico or the Caribbean for a multi-destination beach trip.
Carnival has some irresistible deals on cruises, especially with their sales on last-minute bookings. Even so, Carnival currently has a 4-day Western Caribbean cruise you can book for spring break — and prices start at just $191 per person.
Psst — our full guide to finding cheap cruise deals has even more booking tips.
Cheap Camping and RVing Ideas
Camping and RVing are incredibly fun and cheap spring break ideas. Swap the hotel stay for an RV and save on a road trip to remember. Don’t forget to take advantage of all the free campsites and hiking trails across the U.S. Whether you’re pitching a tent or renting a set of wheels, the great outdoors has a lot to offer spring breakers on a budget.
13. Rent an RV and hit the road for as low as $65 per night.
Renting an RV and hitting the road is the perfect cheap spring break idea for 2023. You’ll likely pay less money per night than a hotel stay, and you get to take your trip wherever you wish.
One of the most trusted RV rental sites is RVShare, where you’ll pay as low as $65 per night for an RV, depending on your location. But before you book, grab this Groupon RVShare deal for 25% off your spring break booking!
Also, we have a bunch of tips for saving on RV vacations to help you travel for even less.
14. Find free places to camp on the U.S. Bureau of Land Management site or the FreeRoam app.
You can literally find free places to camp all over the country. The official term for staying at free campgrounds is “dispersed camping.” Most locations on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) website are free dispersed campsites — and there are over 1,000 to choose from.
Another great tool is the FreeRoam mobile app, which lets you browse thousands of free and cheap campsites wherever you go. You can even search by weather, elevation, and campground facilities to find exactly what you’re looking for. And most locations on the map are RV-friendly!
15. Go RVing through the Great Smoky Mountains for hiking, sightseeing, and other cheap outdoor activities.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park (aka “The Smokies”) is one of the best places to take an RV trip. It spans over 500,000 acres across Tennessee and North Carolina and has 10 campgrounds throughout the territory (most of which are RV-friendly).
And hiking and camping aren’t the only cheap things to do in the Smokies. Find tons of coupons on the Visit My Smokies website, like dollars off restaurants, museum admissions, trampoline parks, ziplining adventures, and so much more.
16. Or camp for free at the Sierra Vista campgrounds near White Sands National Park.
Not only is Sierra Vista a free dispersed campground, but it’s also ranked the number one campground in the U.S. Combine that with breathtaking views and fun family activities and you’ve got yourself a spring break to remember.
You can easily access hiking trails from the campground or take a short drive to White Sands National Park for even more stunning sights.
In April temperatures are still a bit nippy at night, so be sure to pack appropriately and bundle up when the sun goes down.
17. Some businesses (like Walmart and Cracker Barrel) let you camp overnight in their parking lots for free.
Yes, you heard me. There’s a long list of national chains that let you park and stay out in their parking lots overnight.
Now, if you have an extra-large RV, you’ll probably take up more than one parking space — so just be sure to call ahead and speak with the manager before you set up shop.
These are some of the places that allow free overnight parking:
- Cracker Barrel
- Home Depot
- Sam’s Club
- Cabela’s / Bass Pro Shops
- Planet Fitness
- Anytime Fitness
18. Use the GasBuddy app to find the cheapest gas wherever you go.
Gas prices are no joke, not even on budget-friendly road trips. To avoid overpaying on fuel throughout your trip, use the GasBuddy app to search for gas stations and find the cheapest prices near you.
19. Don’t underestimate the power of Google Maps — it’s loaded with travel resources you never knew about.
Stop using Google Maps only for directions and start using it the right way! It’s a powerful tool for all types of travel, especially when you’re on the road. You can search for RV parking, campgrounds, hiking trails, and more spots throughout your route.
Plus, type in any place (like The Great Smoky Mountains, for example) to see instant facts, photos, hours, and even travel guides. Bravo, Google.
Cheap National Park Trip Ideas
U.S. national parks offer breathtaking views, landscapes, and mountain formations that make you feel like you’re on a different planet. If the stress and cost of an international trip don’t seem worth it for a week away, national parks are the perfect (and affordable) alternative. These are our top cheap spring break ideas for visiting national parks.
20. Fourth-graders can visit U.S. National Parks and historic sites for free.
If there’s a fourth-grader in your family, well, you’re in luck. Fourth-grade students (or homeschool equivalent) get free admission to U.S. National Parks and historic sites.
All you have to do is grab a free pass from the Every Kids Outdoors website. Fourth-graders will write a diary entry online explaining where they’d like to go and what they’d like to see and do on their trip. When they’re done, they can read their story and print their free pass!
21. Plan your route from Colorado to New Mexico and visit the Rocky Mountains and two other national parks in one trip.
If you can spare the whole week of spring break, you’re in for the road trip of a lifetime. This Colorado to New Mexico route takes you through three national parks: Rocky Mountains, Carlsbad Caverns, and Great Sand Dunes. You’ll also get to visit the White Sands National Monument. Basically, this trip has sights that even Instagram isn’t worthy of.
If you need a cheap place to rest for the night, look for Airbnb rentals (like this tiny house in Colorado for $73 a night) along your route.
22. Or stay at this hilltop home in Utah for $99 a night and explore two major National Parks.
If you’re looking for a cheap spring break idea, Utah’s National Parks won’t disappoint. From this tiny house on wheels ($99/night), you can drive to Bryce Canyon National Park in 20 minutes and Zion National Park in 45 minutes.
23. Buy an America the Beautiful Annual Pass for $80 and visit as many national parks as possible.
An America the Beautiful Pass is $80 and covers your entrance fees to over 2,000 national sites for a year. This includes up to four passengers in a noncommercial vehicle.
National park entrance fees usually cost $35 for a single vehicle. So if you visit at least three national parks on your trip, you’ll save at least $25 with the $80 pass.
24. Plan your spring break visit around National Parks with free admission.
Some of the most popular national parks (like The Rocky Mountains and the Grand Canyon) charge a fee for admission, but many others don’t. Here’s a list of national parks you can enter and roam for free:
- Biscayne National Park – Florida Keys, FL
- Channel Islands National Park – Ventura, CA
- Glacier Bay National Park – Gustavus, AK
- Great Basin National Park – Baker, NV
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Gatlinburg, TN
- Hot Springs National Park – Hot Springs, AR
- Mammoth Cave National Park, Mammoth Cave, KY
- Redwood National Park – Crescent City, CA
25. Military members, Veterans, and Gold Star families get to visit U.S. National Parks and recreational lands for free.
Military members get some extra love with the Interagency Military Pass. It covers entrance fees to all national parks, and only military members, veterans, and Gold Star families can benefit from it.
To get the free military pass, you’ll need to submit one of these forms of identification:
- Unexpired Department of Defense Identification Card
- Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)
- Veteran ID Card
- Veterans’ designation on a state-issued US driver’s license or identification card
Cheap Amusement Park Ideas
Whether you’re looking for a weeklong vacation packed with family fun or a thrill-filled day trip to a park nearby, there are plenty of ways to save on the most-loved amusement parks in the country. From saving on tickets to scoring free admission, these are our top cheap spring break ideas for visiting amusement parks.
26. Save up to 60% on Six Flags tickets when you commit to a specific date.
General admission Six Flags tickets are between $44.99 – $89.99 (depending on the location). But buying tickets in advance online at SixFlags.com or in the Six Flags app for a specific day of the week can significantly cut down on your admission price.
Recently I saw a day pass to Six Flags Great America for $29.99, which was normally $79.99. So you’d save 63% just by visiting on a Thursday. The only downside is you have to visit on the day you commit to, and you can’t change it or get your money back.
We have tons more Six Flags discounts and insider tips to save you more money.
27. Buy a Busch Gardens Fun Card when they’re BOGO free and visit two parks all year for the price of one.
If you’re thinking about ponying up for an annual pass to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay (reg. $438/year), their Busch Gardens “Fun Card” is a much more affordable option — at just $132.99. And if you buy it now, you’ll get a free Adventure Island Fun Card that’s good for free admission to the water park all year.
You’ll only lose out on a few perks by opting for the Fun Card over the Annual Pass. For example, you won’t get free parking, discounts on food, or admission during special events like Howl-O-Scream. A few 2023 blackout dates also apply.
TIP: The price for a Fun Card will go up on March 6, 2023, so don’t wait too long to get this deal!
28. Have preschoolers? They get free admission to more than 10 U.S. theme parks.
If you’re traveling with young ones, you can save a bunch on a thrill-filled trip to various theme parks across the country.
All of the below theme parks give preschool ages free admission:
- Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Williamsburg, Virginia)
- Carowinds (Charlotte, North Carolina)
- Cedar Point (Sandusky, Ohio)
- Dollywood (Pigeon Forge, Tennessee)
- Dorney Park (Allentown, Pennsylvania)
- Great America (Santa Clara, California)
- Kings Dominion (near Richmond, Virginia)
- Silver Dollar Park (Branson, Missouri)
- Valleyfair (near Minneapolis, Minnesota)
- Wild Adventures (Valdosta, Georgia)
- Worlds of Fun (Kansas City, Missouri)
You’ll have to register early online for most of these, but some have deadlines in March or even later in the year. Use the links above to find out more information about the preschool passes at each park.
29. Save up to 50% on Legoland California and other nearby attractions with a Go Los Angeles Card.
You can buy a 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-, 5-, or 7-day all-inclusive passes and see tons of top California attractions for less, including Legoland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Warner Bros. Studio Tours, Six Flags Magic Mountain, and more.
So you could book a 3-day pass and visit eight different attractions in the LA area. This itinerary (if booked without the pass) would normally cost you $450 per person. But with the Go Los Angeles Pass, you’d only pay $211 per person, giving you a 47% discount.
Check out more Legoland deals and hacks to help you stay on budget.
30. Buy a sightseeing pass for your city’s top attractions to bundle and save on costs.
Like the Go Los Angeles Card and the Go San Diego Card, you can buy city passes to multiple destinations across the country, including New York City, Atlanta, Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco. Head to Viator.com to explore available city and sightseeing passes.
By wrapping up multiple activities under one overall cost, you’ll save more vs. paying for these attractions separately.
31. Save big with the Kids Free Package at Sesame Place Philadelphia and hit up two U.S. cities in one trip.
Want to see Philadelphia, New York City, and give the kids a real-life Sesame Street experience? Sesame Place is offering a limited-time deal on their Kids Free Package. If you book a minimum one-night stay at a Sesame Place hotel, you automatically get these benefits:
- Free child admission to Sesame Place with each paid adult (includes a two-day ticket for each child with up to $28 off paid tickets)
- Free kids’ meals when you add breakfast, lunch, or dinner at Dine with Elmo & Friends to your hotel package
You can book the Kids Free Package for as low as $98 per person. Even better, you can explore everything else that Philadelphia has to offer and even take the 90-minute drive to New York City for even more family fun.
Be sure to book the Kids Free Package before April 30, 2023, for dates between April 14 and Sep. 5, 2023.
32. Disney isn’t the cheapest spring break vacation, but here’s how to save:
The week of spring break is one of the priciest times to visit Disneyland or Disney World since ticket prices are often higher to keep up with the demand. But if you and the fam have your heart set on Disney this spring, there are a few ways you can cut down on overall costs:
Use airline miles to book free plane tickets. Travel rewards credit cards are a great way to score cheap (or free) airfare. Find out how we fly to Disney for free with the Alaska Airlines Credit Card.
Save 25% – 40% on Disney tickets if you’re a local. Score a 3-day ticket for 30% off or a 4-day ticket for 40% off, or save up to 35% on a Disney Cruise to the Bahamas if you have at least one Florida resident in your stateroom.
Bring your own food into the parks and never buy water. Order groceries and snacks through Amazon Fresh or Instacart and schedule your food delivery before 8 a.m. That way, you can bring it into the park with you (and avoid paying $4 – $6 per water bottle).
KCL has been hunting down Disney deals and discounts for years now, so we’ll tell you all about how to make a Disney vacation worth it.