Spring break 2023 hotspots will put a big dent in your wallet: Tips for traveling on a budget

Spring breakers may be spending $1,500 to $2,000 per person to visit popular destinations this year

While you might already be daydreaming about your spring break vacation this year, one travel expert has warned that inflation costs could have you rethinking your plans.

"If you're going to one of those hotspots, you may be looking at $1,500 dollars to $2,000 per person," media and travel strategist Jeanenne Tornatore said on "Mornings with Maria" Friday. "So it can get pretty pricey, especially when we're seeing, still, a lot of pent-up demand this year."

Tornatore told host Maria Bartiromo that for Spring Break 2023, "it’s all about flexibility" as a combination of inflationary pressure and high travel demand in the post-COVID era create price surges for flights and hotel stays.

Some schools and universities start their spring breaks as early as Feb. 12, according to data from Student City. Top-searched destinations include Cancun, Mexico; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Montego Bay, Jamaica; and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.


The travel expert recommended taking your departing flight in the middle of the week to avoid crowds and save money.

Beachgoers play in water and sand

Last year, top spring break destinations included Cancun, Punta Cana, Montego Bay and Puerto Vallarta. (Getty Images)

"Really think about the experience you want to have and not necessarily the destination, in which case, think about those destinations that may be in their shoulder season or in their off-season, so you can save money that way," Tornatore said.

When investigating which hotel to book, Tornatore emphasized the importance of taking advantage of all included amenities, like free breakfasts, bike rentals and spa vouchers.

"Is there a free breakfast your entire family can use to save money? Is there a free shuttle that can get you around your destination? Are there bikes you can check out to explore? Those types of things seem small, but they can save you a lot of money," the expert said.

Also during your vacation planning process, Tornatore recommends taking a few extra minutes to sign up for travel or hotel loyalty programs.

"I always tell everyone, regardless if you plan on being loyal on all of your trips, just signing up for loyalty programs can get you a lot of perks," she explained. "Things like free WiFi, free parking and saving you money right off the bat on the rate."

For those looking to relax on a tropical island this spring break, you’ll get the best bang for your buck on a cruise, according to Tornatore.

"They're still the best vacation value out there," the travel expert argued. "You have major brands like Carnival, the largest in the U.S., that just rolled out a new ship over the holidays, the Celebration. They have another one coming out of the Port of New York, the Venezia, in the spring, yet another new ship at the end of the year. So, look, there's all these new ships, these new experiences. People are loving this and it's a great value for those tropical escapes."

If a ski resort getaway better suits your style, Tornatore noted record-breaking snowfall in the Rocky Mountain this year.

"Look for what I call those 'local gems.' So we know Colorado is full of some major resorts. Look a little off the radar," she said, "these places like Durango, Colorado – this is home to the Purgatory Ski Resort, which is one of Colorado's most family-friendly and most affordable ski resorts."

Keep an eye on demand-based pricing as well, as Tornatore reiterated saving money by avoiding a destination’s peak season.


"You can find tickets from $72 for those lift tickets to get on the mountain. That's substantially less than some of the larger ski resorts," Tornatore pointed out. "And look, we're seeing that a lot of families and travelers are looking for these smaller resorts because they offer a better experience with not as many crowds, but still a lot of the great amenities."

"So it's not just about being on that mountain, but the entire experience in some of these mountain towns," she added.