There are people who plan their annual spring break getaway with the precision typically reserved for Swiss watchmakers.
They are the parents who nailed down their March break camp slots months ago, who have already marked the summer camp registration dates in their calendar and will likely have at least half of their holiday shopping done by June.
They deserve our admiration and applause, because they are killing this parenting game.
And then there are the rest of us.
Yup, as sure as you are reading this article, there is a parent somewhere who just realized that as early as next week, the kids will all be home and underfoot and that they have yet to make any real plans. In fact, that parent may be you.
And you know what, that’s okay, too. Maybe your kids are young or self-obsessed or have assumed you’re on the ball. Whatever the case, they likely have no idea you’ve forgotten to plan anything and there is – believe it or not – still time to make it magical.
The harsh truth is that booking a last-minute trip out of town won’t be easy or cheap. The travel industry is well aware that these are the weeks when you both desperately need a vacation and are likely willing to fork out the cash necessary to save your sanity.
And so, you can be sure that everything from flight costs to car rentals to hotel rates will be elevated.
Does that mean you’re doomed to a week of being trapped with “I’m bored” children while hate-scrolling the Facebook photos of your frenemies? Not at all. You’ve still got options when it comes to saving your March break travel dreams. Here are a few strategies to help you get a handle on things.
You want to go to Cancun for the week, but guess what? Everyone does. The time when you could dictate where you would go for March break ended weeks ago. You are now living in the “what’s left” days of travel options. Where you go is going to be dictated entirely by availability. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Pop onto the web (see sidebar for options) and plug your dates in. Also: This is no time to be a travel snob. One person’s Paris is another person’s Detroit. Places can surprise you if you’re open to it.
Pay the piper
Deals won’t be easy to come by, so this may be the vacation where you’ll have to close your eyes, hand over the credit card and punish yourself later. I know, it’s not ideal but money and time are rarely flush at the same moment time and a week when everyone is home and available to do a vacation doesn’t come around often. Try to keep costs down by not overpaying on everything. If the flights cost a mint, consider skimping on the accommodation, or booking a place with a kitchen and making use of it. You know what your budget can handle. Do your best but don’t beat yourself up if it’s impossible. Use airline points, credit card points, grocery store points – whatever it takes to save money where you can, then swallow hard and go.
Cut out the flight
People tend to think about staycations as alternatives to vacations, but the fact is someone somewhere is paying good money to come see your city or the one next door. Why not save that airfare and do the same? Go far enough away that it doesn’t feel like you should be doing laundry or groceries, but not so far that you need a pricey flight or to weigh your luggage. Who needs a March break camp when there are often inexpensive activities happening across your city all the time. Case in point: Toronto Comicon has a newly expanded Family Zone at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre from March 15-17, 2019. Family passes for two adults and up to four kids start at just $45.
Leaving a day or two early can make a huge difference in prices and availability. Teacher giving you grief? Point them to this recent study that found that 74 per cent of educators think travel has a “very positive impact on a students’ personal development.” Sure, it’s an American study, but the fact that 53 per cent of teachers found that travel helped the kids better understand the curriculum is a selling point you can work into your argument. Of course, missing school does comes with responsibilities. Make sure you have all learning bases covered.
Do better next year
Your kids are eventually going to catch on to your last-minute ways. And your wallet isn’t going to appreciate it either. So why not make plans this year, right now, for March break 2020? That dream of Cancun? Make it happen and be the parent we’ll all love to hate, thumbing your nose at the rest of us from the beach.
Where to check for last-minute March break getaways
These apps and websites crawl the internet in search of great deals. Plug in your dates and see what last-minute adventure you can create:
Last minute cruise: Check Cruise Finder by iCruise.com. Even if you can’t find a week-long cruise you can get to affordably, a four-day getaway might suffice.
Last minute flights: Try Jetto, Hopper or Next Departures for travel deals, glitch fares and more. Consider signing up for alerts direct to your inbox. Skyscanner, Google Flights, Travelzoo and Kayak are travel search engines that will compare flight costs to the destinations of your choice.
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