Affordable Last-Minute Spring-Break Ideas

Short on time, money or both? These smart tips can help you have fun and save money on spring break.

Affordable Last-Minute Spring-Break Ideas - Family Relaxing on the Beach

by NEA Member Benefits


Spring break is right around the corner! It’s not too late to plan a getaway. If you’re short on time, money or both, try one of these last-minute, but memorable, jaunts.

Plan a quick getaway

Taos, New Mexico. Steer clear of popular beaches and college student crowds, warns Jim Pickell, the president of, and head to Taos, New Mexico, instead. “With all the requisite warmth and sunshine, plus a lot of local life and culture, avenues of art, and awesome Tex Mex cuisine, in Taos you can blend into the cityscape by staying in an adobe home.”

Pensacola, Florida. “Pensacola, Florida has excellent beaches that likely aren’t as crowded, [or as expensive], as some of the more popular Florida cities for spring break, like Daytona Beach and Ft. Lauderdale,” says Andrew Schrage, co-owner and CEO of Money Crashers, who recommends their dolphin tours—“they have the largest artificial reef on Earth.” 

Bozeman, Montana. “If you don’t mind the hit-or-miss conditions of spring skiing and prefer above-freezing temps while on the lifts, spring is a great time to plan a short getaway to a mountain resort town like Bozeman, Montana,” says Pickell. “A spring-break ski trip can be surprisingly affordable, especially if you avoid the weekends.”

La Quinta, California. “La Quinta, California, [near Palm Springs], has several golf courses, sightseeing tours and even balloon rides,” suggests Schrage. Hiking enthusiasts will love the trails and mountain views.

New Orleans, Louisiana. “New Orleans, which isn't that expensive if you're not traveling during Mardi Gras, has a hopping night life and plenty of both bike and walking tours that make for great spring break activities,” says Schrage.

Try a local adventure

Want to stay close to home? You’d be surprised how many adventures are right in your own backyard.

Scour your state’s tourism website. For destinations close to where you live, Schrage suggests researching your state’s tourism website. “Chances are there are plenty of possibilities for spring-break travel that are literally in your own backyard, and you might uncover a lake with a beach, a state park you weren’t aware of, or another smaller town near you where you could spend spring break and still have fun,” Schrage says, adding that one of Money Crashers’ editors uses Georgia’s tourism website frequently and has since planned memorable trips to Savannah, Dahlonega and Amicalola Falls State Park.

Explore a local park. National and state parks, small historic towns and working farms with on-site accommodations are all perfect for quick, affordable spring-break trips.

Try a home exchange. Even if you don’t have time to fly somewhere, Pickell says there are plenty of home exchanges available around the country. “The real-life connections made on are lasting, especially between members that are just a few hours away, as the closer your exchange partner is to home, the more likely you will be to repeat the swap.”

Stretch your spring break dollar

No matter what your plans, here are easy ways to get the most bang for your buck.

Work your shoulders. Shoulder-season destinations are great ways to save money. That means visiting places that flourish during summer or winter, such as national parks, ski destinations, lakeside towns, northern islands and beach towns, in the spring or fall instead of their high seasons.

Shop around for airfare. And don’t forget to use your NEA benefits! Log into NEA Travel: Flights and score deals on airfare.

Save on a car rental. Need a rental for a spring-break road trip? Save when you reserve your vehicle through NEA Travel: Car Rental.

Consider joining a home swap community, like “Membership costs $150 per year, and besides staying in a home for free, you get access to amenities such as kitchens to prepare your own food and laundry machines to cut down on paying for that extra checked bag,” explains Pickell. “Essentially, once you’ve paid the transport costs of getting there, you can match your cost of living at home while you’re on vacation so you end up saving at least 50% on vacation costs.”

Travel savings exclusively for NEA members