Spring Break: Where to Get the Biggest Bang for Your Buck

If you are searching for a cost-effective spring break, there are two rules of thumb. Avoiding the hot spots like Miami, the Caribbean and popular European cities is crucial, and going all in with all-inclusive packages, a travel holy grail for families in search of getaways that don’t break the bank.

We spoke to several experts to weigh in on money-saving tips and less obvious but equally compelling destinations.

For many families in winter, escaping the cold is top of mind. Gary Leff, whose blog View From The Wing focuses on travel deals and maximizing frequent flier miles, encourages people to travel farther afield — whether it’s Mexico, Central America or elsewhere in Latin America. His reasoning? It’s cheaper to be on the ground there, so airfare gets amortized across several nights, and offset by savings on hotel, meals and activities. He notes that Costa Rica and Belize can be reached with United Airlines miles, flying on their partners Avianca (via Bogotá) and Copa (via Panama City). Delta’s new partnership with LATAM Airlines creates opportunities for connecting to Uruguay.

Jack Ezon, the founder of Embark Beyond, is a fan of the white sand beaches and bountiful activities in Punta del Este in Uruguay.

For culture and charm, Ireland always gets high marks. Though weather will be blustery in March, prices will warm the cockles of your heart (Aerlingus offers fares from Boston, Chicago, Miami and Newark to Dublin for under $500).

Start with a few days in Dublin (don’t miss Trinity College, specifically the workshops at the Science Gallery) and then head to Galway where you can channel your inner aristocrat at Ballynahinch Castle ($380 a night for a family-sized room with breakfast), set on 700 picturesque acres of woodland and mountains that overlook the Owenmore River.

“You can ride horses on the beach, take a boat trip from the local fishing village, go fly fishing in a fairy tale landscape and try your hand at clay skeet shooting,” said Ms. Sulek of Epperly Travel.

Closer to home, think about Washington D.C. (No. 1 on our 52 Places to Go List) where you can visit Smithsonian museums free of charge and book a visit to the Capitol through the office of your representative or senator. A cash-saving tip from Mr. Leff, the travel blogger: “Hotels in Alexandria or Crystal City with easy metro access will get you the best deal.”

If your family prefers snowy pursuits, spring skiing is always fun. Copper Mountain (90 minutes from Denver) has steep end-of-season discounts if you book the resort’s lodging. A one-bedroom condo will run around $207 a night, with a promotion through April offering the second night half-off or the fourth night free. With booking, children 12 and under ski free.

Lodging at Mammoth Mountain in California has a fourth night free and midweek discounts.

If you really want to ski on the cheap, swap downhill for cross country. Marquee resorts like Aspen and Jackson Hole have miles of groomed trails that require no lift ticket.

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