> From the Deal Experts > Budget-Friendly Spring Breaks

Budget-Friendly Spring Breaks

Look beyond the usual suspects to find great deals this spring.

Looking for a tropical beach vacation? Your first thought may be Hawaii. Thinking about jetting to Europe? London and Paris are many travelers’ go-tos. But these popular destinations can come with a hefty price tag -- especially in peak season -- from four-figure airfares to unfavorable exchange rates. Whether you’re in the mood for skiing, sightseeing or sunbathing, opening your mind to some alternative locales is a great way to satisfy your travel cravings without breaking the bank.

Beach

Flights from NYC to Honolulu average around $700 per passenger over the next few months according to our Fly.com Low Fare Calendar, but flights to San Juan, Puerto Rico, are widely available for $245 roundtrip through June. Puerto Rico boasts more than 270 miles of coastline and some of the only Blue Flag beaches in the world, an eco-conscious award for beaches with pristine water, sand and facilities.

Ski

As the most expensive town in America according to The Wall Street Journal, Aspen is not the best place to find deals. But one state over in popular Park City, Utah, a night at the AAA 4-Diamond Goldener Hirsch Inn -- the No. 2 hotel in town according to TripAdvisor -- is on sale for $189 with this deal, including weekends. A Saturday-night stay at Aspen’s No. 2 resort -- The Little Nell -- starts at $595.

Peak ski season deals are also available in Beaver Creek and New Hampshire.

City

Great deals can be found for flights, hotels, shows and dinners in New York City, but finding a room for under $100 a night is nearly impossible. If the bright lights of the big city are calling your name, consider the Windy City instead and stay a block off the Magnificent Mile for $85 per night. This year’s unusually warm winter means temperatures are well above freezing, and flights from Boston, Dallas, New York, San Francisco and LA are a steal for less than $200 roundtrip.

International

It’s no wonder that Paris is the most visited city in the world, and hotel deals do exist, like this one for $238 a night near the Louvre. But a spring flight from Chicago, Houston or major East Coast hubs will run you around $800 roundtrip. For a taste of Paris closer to home, Montreal offers enough musees, cafes and opportunities to dust off your high school French to satisfy any Francophile. Stay at the InterContinental for CA$99 a night, and get there for less than $200 each way from New York, Miami and other major gateways on Air Canada.

Staycation

Sometimes, the best vacations are right in your backyard, where security lines and weather delays can’t stand between you and total relaxation. If you live near Denver, spend a weekend at the 4-star Loews Denver for $99 a night and take a scenic horseback ride in nearby Estes Park for only $19 a person, or take the kids to see Disney On Ice at Denver Coliseum. In D.C., take your pick of Hiltons starting as low as $74 a night and take a day trip to Capitol Vineyards in Virginia for wine tastings and snacks for only $7.50 a pop.

The bottom line is -- there are ways to take memorable trips this spring without denting your bottom line.

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Tips by
Erica

Deal Expert, Chicago
Friday, March 2, 2012
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Erica Wacker