How to Plan Your Family's Spring Break Vacation

PHOTO: A relaxing day at the beach awaits. (photo via flickr/Joe deSousa) (flickr)
by Emily Krause
Last updated: 1:05 PM ET, Thu February 8, 2018

Set Your Intentions

In many parts of the country, warm weather and sunshine are a distant memory as spring seems like it will never arrive. Everyone needs a break from the clouds, the cold and the monotony of daily routines. Thankfully, spring break is just around the corner, and planning your family's vacation can bring just as much joy as the trip itself.

To ensure everyone enjoys spring break, gather the older members of the family and discuss what you each hope to get out of the trip. Should it be completely relaxing? Would you like to include adventure and exploration? When everyone is on the same page, you can avoid feeling let down if the vacation doesn't live up to your expectations.

Decide on a Budget

Knowing how much your family plans to spend on the trip will help determine your destination. Flying is often the biggest expense, so you may need to pick a location within driving distance if you have a smaller budget. Either way, sticking to the amount you have decided to spend will give you peace of mind.

Take a Family Vote

Now comes the fun part!

Choosing the destination typically falls on one or both of the parents. By having older kids participate in the decision-making process, however, they become more invested in the trip. Have everyone submit their top three destinations or, if you want to maintain control over the process, give them a few parent-approved options to vote on.

Avoid Spring Break Party Towns

Everyone is trying to escape the cold weather around March, rowdy college students included. For families with young children, avoiding the spring break party scene will be safer and more enjoyable. Do your research ahead of time and make sure you're not heading to party central, especially if you're going somewhere warm.

Consider a National Park

Oceanfront resorts are so crowded in spring, and with good reason. After a long winter, a little Vitamin D and saltwater are in order. Instead of the beach, why not explore one of the many National Parks the U.S. has to offer? You'll still enjoy the fresh air and sunshine but without the crowds.

Plan Early

Hotels and home rentals will book up quickly, so it's best to reserve your spot well in advance. The general consensus is to book accommodations 3-4 months in advance. If you're flying, the best time to book your flight is around 3 months before your trip for the lowest price.

Book Flights on a Weekday

It's tempting to bookend your trip on weekends to avoid having to take more vacation days, but those are often the most expensive flights. If your travel dates are flexible, look for midweek flights to get the best deal.

Try a Vacation Rental

When traveling with kids, consider booking a vacation rental home through sites like VRBO, Airbnb or Kid & Coe instead of a hotel room. The prices are comparable, and you'll enjoy amenities like a fully stocked kitchen and separate rooms for light sleepers. You'll even save money by cooking meals in your vacation home instead of eating out the entire trip.

Don't Overbook Your Days

As much as you may want to get the most bang for your buck on vacation, overscheduling the itinerary could make your trip anything but rejuvenating. Have one or two main activities for each day, and make sure to schedule in downtime. The kids will be happier when they are well-rested, and you'll be a more relaxed parent.

Be Prepared


Do your research on the activities you've chosen. Many tourist destinations offer discounts for buying tickets ahead of time online. It also helps to know where things are located before you go, so drop a pin on your phone's map app, then take a screenshot in case you find yourself without internet access.

Let the Kids Help

Delegating responsibility for planning your spring break will give kids a sense of pride and responsibility rather than an entitled "entertain me" attitude. Give younger children options for daily activities and let them choose. For older kids, involve them in the daily travel budget or give them a map to help navigate.

Get Excited

Find children's books, both fiction and nonfiction, set in your destination city. Borrow educational videos or documentaries from the library to learn about the history and culture. See if you can find child-friendly YouTube videos highlighting museums, monuments and activities on your itinerary. Your kids will be thrilled to see them in person once you're there!

Preserve the Memories

Gift your children with special travel journals before you leave so they can look back on details of the trip for years to come. Older kids might enjoy journal prompts to spark their imagination, while you might prepare a checklist of things you'll see and do with pictures for the little ones.

Leave a Buffer Day

If you can help it, plan to return home a day before you need to return to school and work. This way you'll have some flexibility in case of transportation issues. Even if everything runs smoothly, you'll be thankful for an extra day to unpack, do laundry, nap and prepare to re-enter real life.

Be Flexible

Throughout the planning process and on the trip itself, things will go wrong. Missed flights, flat tires, toddler tantrums and bad weather could threaten to ruin your spring break. A sense of humor and a willingness to change plans can turn a bad day into an adventure or at the very least a funny story to tell at dinner parties.

15 tips to ensure your family vacation runs smoothly.

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Agent At Home

Helping leisure selling travel agents successfully manage their at-home business.

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Agent Specialization: Group Travel

Laurence Pinckney

Laurence Pinckney

CEO of Zenbiz Travel, LLC

About Me