Experts share tips for saving on last-minute spring break trips

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Last-minute spring break deals

Airlines gear up for record spring break travel rush 02:28

As the countdown to spring break ticks closer, airlines are bracing for an unprecedented surge in travelers, with an estimated 167 million passengers expected to fly during March and April, marking a 6% increase from last year. But finding a deal may require some flexibility, experts say.

Among the millions looking to escape the daily grind is the Ayala family, who have chosen to spend their spring break soaking in the excitement of spring training in Arizona. 

"It's our spring break, and they gotta see some players, get some signatures," said Angela Ayala.

Airports are bracing for the influx, with the TSA reporting a 6% increase in checkpoint activity over last year's already record pace. United Airlines, is expecting its busiest spring break ever and is planning for a 10% increase in passengers over 2023.

For the Lancaster family of Houston, this season marks their first international spring break. They chose Cancun as the destination.

"This is our first time traveling international on spring break with our daughter … so we're in for a treat," said Samantha Lancaster.

Finding a good deal, however, requires flexibility with travel dates and destinations, advises Lindsay Schwimer, a consumer travel expert with Hopper. Warm weather spots like Orlando, Las Vegas and Miami top the domestic charts, while Cancun, London and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic lead internationally. Even so, bargains are still within reach, including notable deals from New York to Cancun for $250 round trip, Chicago to Dublin for under $500 and Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for about $140.

"If you're eyeing Miami, maybe skip some of the more crowded beach destinations, consider a Fort Myers, a Tampa, a Fort Lauderdale, that's gonna help you save a little bit more and you'll avoid the crowds," said Schwimer.

Emily Kaufman, also known as The Travel Mom, said flexibility in travel plans is key when it comes to savings. 

"You've gotta be flexible. You may be taking a road trip. You may be taking a cruise. It depends where the deals are," said Kaufman.

She noted that "cruises are a terrific value because the closer we get to the departure time, the less the price becomes."

She also advises travelers to explore discounts available through memberships such as the AARP, AAA and teacher's unions, or deals associated with being in the military or geared toward first responders. 

"All of them get travel perks and benefits you might not realize you have," said Kaufman.

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Kris Van Cleave


Kris Van Cleave is CBS News' senior transportation and national correspondent based in Phoenix.