Spring Break is approaching and if you haven’t booked your trip, you should be shopping for fares now. We have been looking at prices and have found that a shorter trip can lead to big savings.
This year most Dallas area schools have Spring Break from Saturday, March 9, through Sunday, March 17. When we looked at fares, we found that week long vacations departing Friday, Saturday or Sunday were the most expensive, but if you can take a trip that is four or five days long, you can save money. As long as you avoid leaving during the weekend and returning on Sunday, March 17, the fares should be much lower.
For many trips, if you leave on a Saturday or Sunday, the fare will be higher even if you only stay four nights, but it will not be as high as fares for weekend departures and weekend returns. You will more than likely pay a premium to fly on the weekend, even if it is just on the outbound or return portion of your trip.
We looked at seven-night vacations from Dallas to Fort Lauderdale and found that roundtrip fares started at $344 departing on Saturday, March 9, and $324 departing on Sunday, March 10. The fare dropped to $282 roundtrip for a four-night vacation departing Monday, March 11.
Another tip for finding lower fares is to look at alternate airports. If you are heading to Miami, you might not think about checking fares at nearby Fort Lauderdale, but there is a big difference in fares. If you look at fares to Miami for the exact same travel period listed above, seven-night roundtrip from Dallas started at $500 departing on Saturday, March 9, and $384 departing on Sunday, March 10. Fares departing Sunday and returning Friday were as low as $268 roundtrip, so it was not always more expensive.
If you want to fly to Orlando check flights to Tampa, which is only a one hour drive from the airport to Downtown Disney. The airfare to Tampa is usually cheaper than flights to Orlando because Orlando is a popular destination for Spring Break, and other times of year. We found roundtrip fares from Dallas to Tampa in the $342-$344 range when flying Saturday to Saturday or Sunday to Sunday.
Fares were $294 roundtrip leaving on the Tuesday March 12 and returning on Saturday, March 16. Flights from Dallas to Orlando were $660 roundtrip for travel Saturday to Saturday, $385 roundtrip for travel Sunday to Sunday and $465 roundtrip for travel Tuesday to Saturday.
Cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco can be good options for Spring Break because of airline competition. We found roundtrip fares to Los Angeles as low as $278 for four- or five-night stays and up to $340 for seven-night stays with weekend flights. Roundtrip fares from Dallas to San Francisco started at $308 for four-night stays and up to $350 for seven-night weekend to weekend flights.
Honolulu is one of the most outrageous fares we found for a nonstop flight. For travel departing Dallas on March 9 and returning on March 16, the roundtrip fare was $2,128 nonstop, but one-stop was $965. Monday to Monday roundtrip fares were much lower at $605 for nonstop flights and $615 for one-stops.
You do want to look at your flights carefully on long-haul flights to destinations like Hawaii or the Caribbean because we found that some of these one-stop fares required an overnight stop at the connecting city. If you are leaving at 5 p.m. and you arrive at 10:55 a.m., your flight probably has an overnight somewhere.
The flight between Dallas and Honolulu is a little over eight hours nonstop, but if you get on a flight with an overnight stop, your flight could take over 20 hours, so look at those flight times closely, especially the late evening departures. Some flights departing out of Hawaii depart late at night and have a normal connection time in the morning in LA or San Francisco, but in most other cases, you want to check carefully to make sure you won’t be sleeping at your connecting airport.
The cheapest nonstop fare we found from Dallas to Cancun for travel Saturday to Saturday, March 9-16, or Sunday to Sunday, March 10-17, was $680 roundtrip, but travel for four nights departing on a Saturday and returning midweek was as low as $538 roundtrip. The cheapest nonstop from Dallas to San Juan, Puerto Rico was $835 roundtrip for a seven night stay departing on Saturday, but it drops by $200 if you only stay for or five nights. If you travel March 11-15 it drops to $565 roundtrip and that’s a nonstop flight.
If you want to go to Europe, departure on Friday, March 8, or Saturday, March 9, is much higher than departure on other days, plus there is a weekend surcharge. We found that flights for travel Saturday to Saturday were the worst, followed by Friday to Friday, Sunday to Sunday was a little better, but Monday to Monday was much better. Dallas to Madrid was $1,078 roundtrip for seven nights for departure Friday or Saturday, but if you departed on Monday, March 11, the fare dropped to $838 roundtrip.
Dallas to Barcelona was almost $1,100 roundtrip for seven nights for departure Friday or Saturday, but it was $805 roundtrip for departure on Monday. Dallas to Paris was $1,252 for travel March 9-16, versus as low as $965 roundtrip for Monday departure and return. Dallas to Dublin was $1,100 roundtrip for travel Saturday to Saturday, but $899 roundtrip for Monday to Monday travel. I
stanbul was $1,089 roundtrip Saturday to Saturday but it was $829 roundtrip for travel Monday to Monday. Flights from Dallas to Rome were most expensive for travel Saturday to Saturday, March 9-16, at $1,379 roundtrip, but the Monday to Monday, March 11-18, was $1,000 roundtrip. Waiting to travel on Monday can save a family of four over $1,500.
Traveling for seven nights during Spring Break is adding up to expensive airfares, no matter what your destination. If you want to reduce your airfare, staying four or five nights is much cheaper in most cases. Being flexible about your travel dates and comparing fares with nearby airports are good strategies for travel not only during Spring Break, but also during other busy travel periods. Taking a few extra minutes to compare these things can add up to a whole lot of savings.
These strategies are not written in stone, so if you want to travel on the weekend, you may luck out and find decent fares, so be sure to look at your preferred dates. If they are too high, use these tips to help bring your airfare down. The fares listed above were valid at press time, but are subject to change.
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