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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.

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.

Taos, New Mexico. Steer clear of popular beaches and college student crowds, warns Jim Pickell, the president of HomeExchange.com, 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 of Money Crashers Personal Finance, who recommends their dolphin tours—“they have the largest artificial reef on Earth.”

Buttermilk Falls, New York. Lisa Westlake Chen, general manager of BedandBreakfast.com, recommends the Buttermilk Falls Inn. Less than two hours from New York City, this B&B boasts an organic farm and orchard, a restaurant that serves ingredients sourced on site, and an eco-friendly spa with a beautiful glass-enclosed indoor pool.

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!

Waynesville, North Carolina: For a relaxing, outdoor adventure, head to The Swag resort. “Less than three hours from both Atlanta and Charlotte, The Swag offers rooms with wood-burning fireplaces, steam showers, private balconies, Jacuzzis and outdoor soaking tubs,” says Chen. “All meals are included with your stay, and rooms are stocked with snacks and chef-prepared meals that you can take on hikes in the surrounding Smoky Mountains.”

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 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 HomeExchange.com 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. “Go to shoulder-season destinations,” says Chen. “In spring, places that flourish during summer or winter, such as national parks, late-season ski destinations, lakeside towns, northern islands and beach towns, offer affordable prices compared to high-season rates.”

Shop around for airfare. And don’t forget to use your NEA benefits! Log into NEA Click & Save and check out the Travel section for deals on airfare, hotels and more.

Save on a car rental. Need a rental for a spring-break road trip? Save when you reserve your vehicle through one of our 5 car rental partners!

Consider joining a home swap community, like HomeExchange.com. “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 percent on vacation costs.”

Try a B&B for great extras. “B&Bs are inherently a good value because you get so many “extras” as part of your nightly rate: free breakfast, onsite parking, Wi-Fi and refreshments,” says Chen. Look on sites like BedandBreakfast.com, which offer “Hot Deals” for last-minute getaways, providing a savings of 20 percent or more.

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