For many of us, the weeks leading up to Easter signal one thing: Spring break. Students are the most enthusiastic partakers in the annual spring break traditions, and for many students, it's their first venture into the world of vacationing with peers rather than parents. But students aren't the only ones answering the call of the sunny beach; students from elementary through high schools often get to take part in family spring break trips, and for both student party destinations and family-friendly trips, some of these trips are pricier than most of us want to pay. (Find out how to have a fun and budget-friendly summer adventure. Check out 7 Ways To Save On Summer Getaways.)
1. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Cabo San Lucas isn't the Mexico of taco trucks and crowded beaches, though you might find a few packed beaches. Instead, at Cabo you'll find luxury hotels, trendy restaurants, decadent spa experiences, and an overall vacation experience designed to leave you feeling like you own the place. And at the prices you'll pay for everything from meals by Michelin-starred chefs to transportation, you might as well. A luxury hotel stay can easily run upwards of $1,000 a night.
2. Harbor Island, Bahamas
Just 50 miles away from the party-center of Jamaica are the pink-sanded beaches of quiet, intimate and luxurious Harbor Island. It's a lesser known resort, more suited for a spring break retreat than a spring break booze fest, and the local luxury accommodations offer amazing amenities and customer service. The Pink Sands, one of the luxury resorts on Harbor Island, has only 25 cottages available, with prices starting around $500 per night and climbing well over $2,000 per night for a three-bedroom cottage with a Jacuzzi.
3. Riviera Maya, Mexico
Anyone can book an economical $500-per-week Mexican vacation, but it takes a fatter wallet to visit Mexico in style. Luxury travelers can fly into Cancun, but they don't stay there with the crowds; instead, they are whisked away to a private resort on a private beach. The cost for one of the all-inclusive packages, which includes gourmet meals, drinks, spa treatments and more, can start around $800 per night and prices just go on up from there.
4. San Francisco, California
Looking to pay a little more to deal with fewer distractions, all without leaving the United States? For families who feel a desperate need to reconnect, the $800+ per night cost for a stay at San Francisco's Mandarin Oriental Hotel is worth every penny. The hotel's "Unplugged" spring break package has families hand over their digital equipment at check in, allowing the family to connect without distractions. (Getting to and around your travel destination doesn't need to break the bank. Refer to Save On Planes, Trains And Automobiles.)
5. Costa Rica
Luxury doesn't have to mean, necessarily, a decadent, drink-sipping week of laying by the private pool; it can mean activity of all kinds, from sailing to snorkeling to horseback riding to mountain climbing. In Costa Rica, which offers mountains, beaches, and tropical forests, luxury travelers can have their fill of an active spring break. All the fun comes at a cost: Day trips and tours usually cost around $80 per person. An aerial tram over the jungle or a whitewater rafting trip is approximately $100 per person. Fortunately, active travelers can recoup from a busy day at their private cottage, which might cost from $1600 a week to over $3700.
6. Colorado Ski Trip
Though the appeal of spring break, for many, is a literal break from winter on a sunny beach somewhere, others take the break from school and work as an opportunity to get deeper into the snow. Spring break ski trips definitely aren't just for students on a budget; from a $1400-per-night private ski resort to the comparatively reasonable $550-per-night rate of the Lodge at Vail. Of course, if reasonable isn't a factor, snow bunnies can opt to stay in one of the lodges at Vail's luxury suites for a mere $3000-per-night investment.
The Bottom Line
If you're footing the bill for a spring break vacation this year, perhaps the comparative cost of what you could be paying will make you feel a little better. Family fun and togetherness, or a student's first parent-free getaway, might still cost you a chunk of the yearly budget, but at least you're shelling out lower numbers than some. (Before going on your trip, find out what kind of insurance coverage you will need. Check out The Basics Of Travel Insurance.)