Unique Spring Break Options for 2017
Spring break travel to traditionally “easy” places like Mexico is at an all time high. Flights and accommodations from Denver to Cancun/Riviera Maya have been booked for months and those that aren’t cost 3 times what they were last year. Travel is up, especially to Mexico. If you haven’t booked your Spring Break yet, you may have to look into alternatives to the usual Mexico plan. And if you’re still looking at Mexico, be prepared to pay more than you have in the past….gone are the days of vacation to Cancun in a great all-inclusive resort for rock bottom prices. Be prepared to pay upwards of $7000 for a good resort and decent flights (for a family of 4). I always tell people to start planning their Spring Break by September or risk the chance of missing out on good deals. Mexico is the place to be this year! If Mexico doesn’t appeal this year, there are plenty of unique spring break options for 2017.
Central America is one of my favorite places to recommend to clients and friends. Warmth? Check. Friendly people? Check. Fairly easy to get to? Check.
*Panama: We have been talking about going to Panama for a few years now and, for whatever reason, other things keep popping up. With red-eye flights as low as $600, however, this might be our year! Along with the vibrant city of Panama City and the Panama Canal, the Bocos del Toro islands are the best kept secret of the Caribbean. A quick flight from Panama City will lead you to picturesque islands with resorts such as Red Frog Beach, Punta Caracole Acqua Lodge and Azul Paradise. With Viceroy Resorts opening up over water bungalows in 2019, Bocos del Toro is going to quickly go from “best kept secret” to “must visit”, so now is a good time to go.
*Nicaragua: We spent a week in San Juan del Sur 3 years ago and we are eager to go back. An up and coming destination, Nicaragua is the Costa Rica of 20 years ago. Unspoiled, beautiful, unique and cheap. The capital city of Managua is worth skipping, but Granada, San Juan del Sur and Leon are all family friendly, low-cost places to visit. I’ve booked clients in everything from private villas to the ultra luxury Makul Resort and everything in between. There truly is something for every family member in this beautiful country. The very reasonable Pelican Eyes Resort in San Juan del Sur ranges from only $200/nt for a traditional room up to $500/nt for a private villa. Rancho Santana, just north of San Juan del Sur, offers everything from standard hotel rooms to luxurious 4 bedroom villas overlooking the Pacific. Nicaragua can give you a budget vacation or a vacation in luxury.
*Belize: this little Caribbean country is making big headlines lately. Traditionally a diver’s paradise, Belize is quickly becoming a relaxing, family friendly destination with plenty to do. There are plenty of options for resorts, from the quirky Matachica to the private island Cayo Espanto, Belize has a wide range for everyone. If diving isn’t your thing, Belize has plenty of adventures, including river canoeing, waterfall hiking and Mayan history tours. Looking for something truly unique? Try a treehouse room at the Hamansani Resort.
South America is considered off the beaten path by most people from the United States. It seems far away and mysterious compared to, say, Europe or the Caribbean. But many countries are within easy reach and are quickly becoming popular vacation destinations.
*Cartagena: We spent this past summer in Cartagena and the islands off the coast. It truly was one of the best travel experiences we have ever had. The walled city of Cartagena is a Unesco World Heritage Site and one of the most unusual towns I have ever seen. The people were friendly, the food was excellent and our hotel, Casa San Agustin, was spectacular. And the word ‘unbelievable’ comes to mind when describing our trip to Isla Mucara and Punta Faro Resort. Cartagena remains fairly undiscovered because people think it is still a hub of drug running a la 1985. Those days are gone and a beautiful, vibrant city remains. I’ve been recommending Colombia to everyone who will listen for months. Flights from Denver are, admittedly, a bit of a pain, but with flights to a city like Cancun costing a fortune, what does one have to lose spending the same amount of time or money going to Colombia? Once you experience it, you will want to go back and explore more.
*Galapagos Islands: Galapagos Island tours have been around for a long time, but have maintained their integrity by only allowing a certain amount of visitors per year. I can’t think of a more unique spring break option for 2017. A good tour is on the pricey side, but well worth the splurge. I recommend taking a reputable cruise tour rather than day tours from the mainland to truly immerse yourself in the nature of the islands. The majority of cruises are small and have an age restriction so this is a trip for families with older children. My favorites are Un-Cruise, Linblad and Metropolitan Touring. Combine a 4 day cruise with a few days in Quito, Equador and you have a truly unique trip.
The Caribbean is a long day’s journey from the western portion of the United States, but there are more islands to choose from that a person knows what to do with.
*Dominican Republic: Domincan Republic has long been on the rise, but most people stick to Punta Cana. The DR has much more than Punta Cana. La Romana, Puerto Plata and the Samana Penninsula are other options. I have a friend and fellow blogger who just returned from Samana and she said it was one of the most unspoiled, beautiful places she’s ever been. And she’s been in the travel industry for 20 years. Cap Cana in Punta Cana is a luxury option, while Luxury Bahia Principe Samana offers luxury at the affordable all-inclusive price of $2500 for a couple for 7 nights (adults only resort). Catching a red-eye to Domincan Republic will have you arriving in the morning for a sunny, fun-filled holiday.
Europe was my first experience for traveling and it’s what gave me the travel bug. There are so many countries to see and so many different cultures to experience. The flight deals to Europe right now are at an all-time low. And with travel to Europe way down from last year, the hotels and resorts have fantastic deals, as well. I just booked a couple’s trip to Paris for $1300 total in one of my favorite boutique hotels. The cost of their flights? $400 each. Total cost for the trip, not including food and wine is only $2100, in one of the best arrondissements in the city, leaving them plenty of extra cash to experience some cultural tours and fine wine. I also have another client going to Amsterdam for only $534 per person. It won’t be warm, but what a beautiful, cultural city and a great way to introduce your kids to Europe without spending a fortune. To find flights like this, I recommend going on Google Flights, Momondo or Fareness and setting your destination to “anywhere”. This will cycle through various fares and cities to find you the best deals and options. After finding a destination at a reasonable rate, the site will give you several different websites for booking options, or you can book through your travel advisor.
I look at all of our kids school breaks as an opportunity to see and experience other cultures. Whether it’s the colonial history of Mexico, a city tour of Cartagena or a sailing trip to a deserted beach in Nicaragua, we try to find unique places to visit. This year, I am really extolling the virtues of unique spring break options for 2017. Visiting a beach and hanging out by a pool is lovely, but if prices to “the usual” vacation spots such as Cancun are going to cost and arm and a leg, why not try something new for the same, if not more economical cost? Travel with family and children is on the rise and 2017 is the perfect time to explore the world.
Trying to plan Spring Break with your family? Contact me here and I can help! 🙂