Is a spring getaway is in the cards for you? These budget spring destinations for 2018 are best visited March through May.
Editor’s Note: For the latest version of this story, see 10 Insanely Affordable Spring Vacations for 2019.
The Best Spring Destinations on a Budget
From a recovering Caribbean island chain to a famous mountain with late-season skiing, these 10 spring destinations are wallet-friendly in 2018.
British Virgin Islands
Head to one of the 60 islands that make up the BVI for an affordable spring break destination this year.
Why It’s a Steal: After last year’s horrific hurricane season, many travelers have written off the severely affected BVI as a destination. However, tourism is essential in helping the islands recover, and you’ll be able to find hotel deals and cheaper flights due to lower demand. Even though the islands are a British territory, the U.S. dollar is the official currency, so you won’t have to deal with an unfavorable exchange rate.
G Adventures is currently offering discounted BVI Sailing departures, which are an even better way to explore the islands if you’re concerned about booking a hurricane-affected hotel. Flight prices are also relatively inexpensive compared to prices you would normally see this time of year, with the average round-trip fare from New York City to Tortola around $500—for peak savings, travel at the end of April.
The British Virgin Island of Anegada doesn’t have significant damage, and Air America is offering discounted rates (ranging from $180 to $250 per person) on charter flights from Puerto Rico for the remainder of 2018.
Don’t Miss: Soak up the sun on White Bay Beach, explore the Norman Island Caves, or snorkel and dive in some of the world’s top sites. Hiking, sunbathing, fishing, and sailing, are all popular activities at this spring break destination.
Editor’s Note: The U.S. Department of State lists the BVI as a level three risk due to the destruction from the hurricane. For up-to-date information on each island in the BVI visit the tourism board’s website.
San Ignacio, Belize
The best time to visit Belize is between November and April, making this accessible Central American destination ideal for a cheap spring break trip.
Why It’s a Steal: The U.S. dollar doubles its value in Belize, and both Southwest and United have affordable (and quick) flights to Belize City. Fares can be as cheap as $400 to $450 round-trip from both New York City and Los Angeles, with the cheapest time to go being early May. Intrepid Travel is also offering up to 20 percent off most trips for March bookings, making its eight-day Land of Belize trip under $1,000.
Another affordable option is the San Ignacio Resort Hotel, offering stays for around $200 per night during low season. The family-run resort includes a complimentary guided trek along the Medicinal Trails, as well as butler service, daily breakfast, and a visit to the Green Iguana Conservation Project.
Don’t Miss: San Ignacio is located about an hour from nature reserves and caves like Jaguar Paw and Blue Hole National Park, and it’s only two hours from the famous Tikal Ruins of Guatemala. It’s a great spring destination to enjoy beaches, culture, and adventure.
Book it: Get prices for San Ignacio hotels
As the second-largest city in the metro Phoenix area, Mesa is an underrated and affordable springtime destination offering near-perfect weather this time of year.
Why It’s a Steal: Flights to Phoenix (a 15-minute drive from Mesa) are inexpensive from major U.S. hubs. A price search found round-trip fares from Los Angeles as low as $90 and $300 from New York City, with the best time to travel being the end of April. There are also direct flights into Mesa’s own airport from 45 U.S. and Canadian destinations.
For accommodations, Mesa typically shows rates about 30 percent lower than other Valley cities like Scottsdale. Rates tend to drop even lower in mid-May. The newly opened Sheraton Mesa Hotel at Wrigleyville West has rates under $150 for spring and is family-friendly. Or book a glamping experience at the nearby popular Schnepf Farms and stay in a retro Airstream trailer, with rates starting at $110 per night.
Don’t Miss: Popular spring activities in Mesa include hiking in the Tonto National Forest, tubing on the Lower Salt River (public access starts in May), exploring the Fresh Foodie Trail, and visiting the Mesa Arts Center. Plus, the tourism board has tons of budget-friendly itineraries to help you plan your perfect spring break.
Book it: Get prices for Mesa hotels
Thanks to Peaky Blinders, Birmingham, England is having a moment. And with more canals than Venice, spring is the ideal time to enjoy the waterways and take advantage of savings.
Why It’s a Steal: Thanks to continuing competition and low transatlantic fares from airlines like Norwegian, WOW, and new-to-the-scene Primera Air, flights overseas are cheap, cheap, cheap—like under $600 round-trip from New York City. Birmingham is accessible by train via hubs like Manchester and London. Primera Air is offering direct flights to the city come May, starting at $159 one-way from Newark.
Birmingham hotels are also affordable, with an average price of $105 per night in March on HotelTonight. For low-budget options, check out HostelWorld’s offerings, starting at $63 per night for a private room.
Don’t Miss: Discover Britain’s industrial era through the city’s architecture, waterways, and museums like the renowned Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Spring events include Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations in April and Birmingham Pride in May.
Book it: Get prices for Birmingham hotels
Maine’s lesser-known Western side is a great place to explore in spring thanks to lakeside cabins and summit trails. While temperatures can still be chilly, it’s a great time to go on a budget.
Why It’s a Steal: Maine is accessible by car from most of the Northeast, and cheap flights from the West Coast (fares average under $400 round-trip in the spring) into Portland make this part of the state easy to get to from the rest of the country.
Check out Maine Huts and Trails locations throughout the region, which is offering a full hut at half price for the months of April and May. The ‘huts’ are four eco-lodges connected by a massive trail system throughout the region and make for a great off-the-grid retreat or family-friendly spring break trip.
Don’t Miss: During the spring season, you can hike, bike, paddleboard, fish, and even spring ski (weather permitting) at nearby resorts like Sugarloaf. The Western Maine region is home to small towns like Lewiston and Auburn, which offer shopping and art districts, and homey bed and breakfasts.
Book it: Get prices for Maine hotels
The best time to visit the ‘C’ of the ABC islands is shoulder season—spring. Pack your bags for a cheap spring break and don’t forget to try the island’s famous late-night snack of peanut sauce grilled chicken with fries.
Why It’s a Steal: With direct flights from New York, Montreal, Miami, and Toronto, Curacao is accessible and affordable. Round-trip flights are as low as $300 round-trip from New York City and $500 from Philadelphia and Boston, according to Airfarewatchdog (our sister site).
During spring you can easily book a four-star hotel like the Hilton Curacao for under $200, or a boutique option like the Pietermaai Boutique Hotel for under $100. Plus, the exchange rate favors U.S. citizens right now, at almost double the dollar.
Don’t Miss: Known for its diving sites, Curacao also has a burgeoning food-truck scene that’s complemented by thriving nightlife and entertainment. Head to the Pietermaai district for sherbet colored buildings, trendy cafes, and a uniquely Curacao experience.
Book it: Get prices for Curacao hotels
Downtown Los Angeles, California
Head to downtown Los Angeles as a home base for an L.A. spring break vacation. With access to Santa Monica via the Expo Line, you’ll save on accommodations here.
Why It’s a Steal: Downtown Los Angeles is still up-and-coming, with plenty of hotel, restaurant, and museum openings making it an affordable and safe place to stay. Check out the popular Freehand Hostel—it even has a rooftop pool— with nightly rates starting at $60. HotelTonight also reports average nightly rates at $113 for March.
Flights from cities, like Minneapolis, Chicago, Fort Myers, and Portland, Oregon are all well under $200 round-trip throughout the spring, according to Airfarewatchdog. And if you’re headed from the East Coast, you can snag a fare as low as $250 from New York City, with average fares around $320 for spring.
Don’t Miss: Museums like the new (and free) ICA LA and MOCA Grand (free admission on Thursday evenings) are helping form a new arts district downtown. There’s also a Smorgsboard market (of Brooklyn fame), as well as historical sites like the Bradbury Building and Downtown Farmers Market to explore. Plus, the beach and Santa Monica are accessible via public transportation.
Book it: Get prices for Los Angeles hotels
While many travelers tend to overlook this small Central American country due to safety concerns, it offers over 186 miles of coastline, is extremely affordable for Americans, and can still be a safe destination to visit.
Why It’s a Steal: The country recently converted to U.S. currency, so you don’t have to worry about any exchange rates here. For those worried about safety, consider taking a group tour, like the Best of El Salvador with Intrepid Travel (again, offering up to 20 percent off bookings made in March). The tour includes all accommodations, a private minibus, and some meals and activities.
For those looking to go at it alone, hotels in the capital city of San Salvador, like the Sheraton Presidente, are under $150 per night. Or you can stay in a beach town like El Tunco at Boca Olas Resort Villas for under $160, and even a coffee plantation at Hotel Mision de Angeles for under $110.
Flights are cheap over spring break, with three new direct flights (a total of 14 direct options from North America) from Los Angeles, New York, and Houston. Rates for a round-trip flight during these months average around $350 to $400 round-trip from Los Angeles, Boston, and D.C., Newark, and New York City.
Don’t Miss: El Salvador is home to 25 volcanoes and 14 lakes, with three distinct regions to explore. On Intrepid’s tour you can take a city tour of San Salvador, visit the famous Joya de Ceren (also known as the “Pompeii of the Americas”) archeological site, and travel along the Ruta de las Flores—a route of colonial and indigenous villages. Other inexpensive El Salvador tourist activities include hiking the Santa Ana volcano, visiting a coffee plantation, taking an indigo workshop, and surfing along the famous Pacific Coastline.
Editor’s Note: The U.S. Department of State lists El Salvador as a level three travel risk due to crime. If you’re planning a trip to El Salvador make sure to exercise caution.
Book it: Get prices for El Salvador hotels
While New Zealand is no bargain destination, CheapAir named the island chain one of its cheapest places to travel to in 2018. And now thanks to shoulder season, spring (New Zealand’s fall) is the best time to go.
Why It’s a Steal: A favorable exchange rate and abundance of free outdoor activities make a trip here affordable once you step off the plane. Flight prices aren’t cheap per say, but they’re more affordable than in year’s past. Airfarewatchdog shows fares well under the $1,000 mark from cities like London, Honolulu, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
Intrepid Travel’s March sale also makes it a great time to book one of its tours, like the North Island Discovery, which includes a unique cultural visit to a Maori home as well as the famous Waitomo glow worm caves.
Look to alternative accommodations like a vacation rental, farm stay, or hostel for maximum affordability. But, there are deals at three-, four-, and even five-star hotels, like Slipper Island Resort, with rates at $57 per person, per night, and Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour at $189 per night.
Don’t Miss: As a bucket list adventure destination, you’ll have no shortage of activities on both the North and South Island, plus amazing vineyards to visit. Springtime events include The Crankworx World Tour in Rotorua this year, and the Hop ‘N’ Vine craft beer, wine, and food festival in Invercargill.
Book it: Get prices for New Zealand hotels
Shoulder season brings deals to both the city of Vancouver and its neighbor, Whistler Blackcomb. From cherry blossom spotting to spring skiing, an affordable spring break in these two British Columbia destinations is a must.
Why It’s a Steal: Flights from both Boston and New York City average around $370 in April for a round-trip fare and if you’re traveling from the West Coast, you’ll have even lower fares, like $195 to $250 from Los Angeles.
Stay in Vancouver at The Burrard, a converted motor hotel, which is an extremely affordable (under $100 per night) and trendy property that’s walking distance from Davie Street bars. Take a day trip to Whistler (about two hours away) for spring skiing—with high snowfalls this year, you may be able to ski well into May—or stay in the area with one of their variety of spring savings packages, starting at $120 per night.
Don’t Miss: Cherry blossoms come into full effect in April in downtown Vancouver, so enjoy the free and beautiful scenery as you explore areas like Granville Island and Stanley Park. Or, head to Whistler for the World Ski and Snowboard Festival in April and enjoy the warmer temperatures and apres ski vibes.
Book it: Get prices for Vancouver hotels
More from SmarterTravel:
- Top 10 Most Popular Spring Break Destinations
- How to Make Your Dream Vacation an Affordable Vacation
- 12 Festivals and Events Worth Traveling for in 2018
Ashley Rossi loves bringing you news about affordable spring destinations. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for travel tips, destination ideas, and off-the-beaten-path spots year-round. Send her an email if you have an off-season or secretly inexpensive destination you love visiting in the summer for next season’s round-up of affordable destinations.