Many schools will be on break early-to-mid April, so if you haven't booked your family getaway, don't wait much longer. It's a peak travel time. Translation: it's expensive.
But there are still deals if you know where to look.
The trick to an affordable family getaway during spring and all year long, is to take a look at what everyone around you is doing -- your neighbors, your kids' classmates, your friends – and then do the opposite.
Cruises It's been a difficult few months for the cruise industry. The Costa Concordia tragedy and Costa Allegra incident have left many people wondering if cruising is safe.
In fact, it's believed to be one of the safest modes of travel. But all this second guessing has kept cruise prices in check, which is great news for travelers who want to hit the open seas this spring. And don't forget that a cruise vacation, while not all-inclusive, does include a lot. Accommodations, transportation between ports, meals and onboard ship entertainment are all typically included in a cruise package.
A 7-night southern Caribbean cruise on the Celebrity Summit is priced from just $449 – or about $65 per night. The cruise is round-trip from San Juan, so don't forget to factor in airfare. It departs on April 6, and stops in St. Kitt's, Dominica, Grenada and St. Thomas, before returning to San Juan. Celebrity is an upscale cruise line, so this is a great price point. This price is for an inside cabin; an ocean view is just $100 more.
There's also a 7-night western Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Liberty, departing April 7, for $479 per person, or about $70 per night. It's slightly more expensive than the Celebrity cruise but the cruise is round-trip from Miami, so airfare will likely be less expensive -- or nothing at all if you can drive to the port. This cruise stops in Cozumel, Belize, Honduras and the Cayman Islands.
Mexico It's a destination that gets hammered in the press every spring, but the truth is, millions of Americans visit Mexico every year without incident. There's no denying the fact that the instances of violent crimes have increased in the past few years, but keep in mind that it's a big country and much of it is quite safe. The government travel warning regarding Mexico does not include some of the most popular tourist destinations, such as Cancun and Cabo San Lucas. Plus, beach destinations like Cancun have tried – and largely succeeded – in recent years to shed the spring break party image and cater to families instead.
The Crown Paradise Club Cancun All Inclusive is offering an April deal in which kids under12 stay and eat free. The room rates during Easter week for a family of four is about $240 per night at the four-star hotel. Every room has a balcony and ocean view. The all-inclusive deal really means all-inclusive – so the price includes meals and drinks, unlimited greens fees, a water park on property, nightly entertainment and activities like tennis and volleyball. There's a kids club and a babies club so parents can get a break. The resort has nine restaurants and free room service.
In Los Cabos, the Riu Santa Fe All Inclusive is priced from $200 per night for a family of four during Easter week. Kids stay and eat for free here, and the price includes 24-hour free food and drinks, several restaurants to pick from, swim-up bars at the pool, a night club for the adults and a kids club.
Skiing Unseasonably warm weather in much of the country means many travelers have packed away their ski gear in favor of resort wear, but that's all the more reason to check out the mountains for spring skiing deals. Not only will travelers find lower prices, but warm weather, plenty of sun, fewer crowds and wide-open trails.
The mountain at Beaver Creek, CO, closes for the ski season on April 15. With that in mind, The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek Mountain will launch a 31 percent-off the best available rate promotion with 31 days left to go in the season (Wednesday March 14; the deal must be booked by Friday, March 16 at 5 p.m.). It's a good choice for families because rooms range in size from studio suites to 3-bedroom condos. It has direct access to Beaver Creek Mountain via the Riverfront Express Gondola, and has a kids club for children ages 5-16.
It's rumored that Breckenridge mountain this week will announce an extension to its season as part of its 50th anniversary celebration. But at least until April 15th, skiing and the Spring Fever festival are going on, with live bands and activities for the kids, including a mascot olympics and an Easter egg hunt on the mountain. Breckenridge has 100 percent of the mountain open for skiing and snowboarding and spring typically brings the most snow and the most blue-sky days. The Village Hotel is offering 40 percent off its normal rates and is family friendly; there's childcare and an indoor/outdoor pool.