Spring break on the cheap?
February 6, 2017 12:50 PM   Subscribe

Simple question: my boyfriend and I want to go somewhere scenic and relaxing this spring break (late March), but we're not seasoned travelers and would benefit from some suggestions/wisdom!

We are two late 20-somethings. Most of our vacations have been short jaunts around the US, to urban areas that sound cool (NYC, SF, etc.), but we've had a tough year and would like to go somewhere just to relax. Somewhere warm, maybe with a beach, maybe outside the US, but we're just spitballing right now.

We're not totally broke but would be nice to do it on the cheap so it doesn't add any unnecessary stress to think about the budget. Right now I'm dreaming of basically a nice resort with clear blue water, comfy bed, etc. Margaritas or some such. Good "local" food would be cool. I have no experience with resorts or "all inclusive" vacations, though, and no idea what the caveats of a late March date might be. A bed and breakfast, or just some type of destination with leisure as the main draw would be fine, even if it's not somewhere particularly warm. We've thought about Iceland or Mexico, but it would be our first time in each so the temptation to explore might be too great. Mexico sounds good though if we can design a low-stress plan.

We're currently in the Midwest (Chicago-area) if there's anything we shouldn't miss locally, but local isn't a requirement.
posted by stoneandstar to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Note: was just warned that spring break around a bunch of drunk students is not fun, which I had totally forgotten to consider, so keeping that in mind off the beaten path is welcome.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:00 PM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

This is my standard recommendation for all questions of this type, but I think it might be particularly good in this case: Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Flights to Cancun are cheap, the taxi then ferry to Isla is fast and affordable. And Isla is well insulated from all the terrible things that happen in Cancun around spring break.
posted by 256 at 2:31 PM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

How much time do you have and how much money do you want to spend? (or, alternatively, what's "on the cheap" for you?)
posted by craven_morhead at 2:55 PM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Are you okay with a pool for that clear blue water? Phoenix and Palm Springs are my favorites that time of year. The weather is as close to guaranteed-perfect as you can get, there's a range of prices re: hotels, and while both areas have some stuff to do, they're not *so* exciting that you're going to feel the need to get out and explore. (But again, if you do get bored of the pool, there are nice restaurants, hikes, gardens, zoos, shops, walkable downtowns etc.)

I also loved Puerto Rico. The hassle of getting there might eliminate it from consideration (and I suspect the resort there is $$$$, though we got a very nice airbnb for cheap), but Vieques was ridiculously gorgeous and relaxing.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 3:00 PM on February 6, 2017

I liked Port Aransas, Texas. It absolutely had clear, blue water. I have also been told it tends to be a mad house for whatever the local spring break period is. If you can find out when those two weeks are and avoid them, it might be worth a look.

Local restaurants there tend towards seafood. They seemed to have a mix of upscale places and dives. As far as I could tell, there was a dearth of more middle class fare. However, it had an excellent grocery store open from 6am to midnight. It had a deli with hot foods, and that was where a lot of my hot meals came from.

I was there camping, on a very limited budgeted. There are nice hotels on the beach and so forth. If that is in the budget, you might well see the place differently from me.
posted by Michele in California at 3:36 PM on February 6, 2017

Puerto Rico is great. We rented an apartment in Fajardo one year, and spent a great week in Vieques another year.

Airbnb and groceries are your friend for inexpensive travel.
posted by thenormshow at 5:09 PM on February 6, 2017

Best answer: Puerto Rico! It's great fun and it's crazy to see all the standard American signage on the roads, but in Spanish and surrounded by tropical foliage. (And you can fly to San Juan pretty cheap from ORD, and you don't need a passport!)

There are lots of great all-inclusives in Mexico and Costa Rica in particular. All-inclusive IS a nice way to go, since you don't have to think about anything, but you will have to research to find the non-spring-break-y spots.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:16 PM on February 6, 2017

Seconding Isla Mujeres! I was just there over the holidays and it was amazing and very relaxing. Everyone speaks English, pretty much, and the exchange rate is really good right now.
posted by ananci at 6:41 PM on February 6, 2017

Best answer: We (early 30s couple) just did a cheap style stint on Maui -2wks for 2ppl totalled at about $3k all in flights & everything, but we could have kept that down around 2.5 if we were really strapped. Did it without much of a plan too - found a cheap beater rental car place online, paid extra to bring a bunch of camping gear with us, a good guide book, and just wandered. Typical day was wake up, hit the road, stop to hike to a waterfall, back on the road, stop at a food truck for lunch, spend hours on the beach, get to our campsite and set up, fall asleep under the stars, rinse repeat.

January though. I don't know how hectic it gets at Spring Break. It seemed like most of the tourism chaos was concentrated around the South-Central island strip where all the resorts are. If you wanted to home base it rather than road trip Paia is pretty central and most of the island is within day trip range.
posted by mannequito at 1:26 AM on February 7, 2017

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