It’s Not Too Late: Travel Planning for March Break

A CAA Travel Consultant gives advice for booking a last-minute family trip

A sunny resort pool in a warm-weather destination

Booking a last-minute March break trip can be expensive, given the high demand and limited space. But if you adjust your expectations, it’s still doable. “[You’ll] have to be more flexible the closer to the departure day that you book,” says Jackie Baldwin, a Travel Consultant with CAA South Central Ontario. “Which are you likely to budge on: budget, the quality of the hotel or the day of the week?”

Here are Baldwin’s tips for planning a great getaway, if you haven’t already.

Know Before You Go

Are there activities offered that interest your whole family? Has a resort changed ownership over the past year? Before you book, do your homework on a destination.

“There are certain properties that cater to families,” says Baldwin. “Many suppliers will have a separate section in their brochures listing the best properties for families. So it isn’t necessarily one destination [that’s family friendly] so much as certain hotel chains within each destination.”

Pick a Destination with Abundant Flights

If your budget is tight, compare the flight frequency to different destinations. According to Baldwin, this could save you money. “It will give you the best selection on price and more [seat] availability,” she says. For instance, there may only be a handful of flights per week to Costa Rica, whereas Cancun may offer 10 per day at varying prices.

Book Weekday Flights

For a last-minute March break jaunt, you may encounter limited options and inflated prices for weekend flights. “Availability for Saturday and Sunday departures goes very quickly,” says Baldwin.

“And those generally do not go on sale.” If you have flexibility in your schedule, your best bet is to pick a departure on a weekday. “Certainly a Friday afternoon departure would be less expensive than one on Saturday or Sunday,” says Baldwin. “If you can do Friday or Monday, it could help with the overall pricing.”

Consider Cruising

Are plane tickets beyond your budget? Baldwin says a lot of families are choosing to take a cruise because of the cost of flying. “A family of four could get a [cruise] cabin cheaper than it would cost to fly,” she says. Many Ontario-based travellers can drive to Florida cruise ports within 24 hours, and families with older children can even take turns driving. If you depart on Friday afternoon, you can arrive on Saturday night—just in time to board the Sunday cruise ship.

Go Local

If budget or timing is restricted, think about planning a March break trip within Ontario. “There are great ski resorts within an hour’s drive,” says Baldwin. “Or go to Bristol Mountain just outside of Buffalo or down to the Finger Lakes.” Other fun options could include a getaway to a Northern Ontario resort with fun winter activities, a trip to Niagara Falls or a city break in Toronto. It may be a short trip, but it can be just as sweet as flying south.

Before hitting “buy,” Baldwin suggests talking to a CAA Travel Consultant to help assess whether a specific resort or destination meets your wish list. “People can search online and find information, but that's probably 70 per cent of the whole story,” she says. “The other 30 per cent comes from experience. We have a network of knowledgeable [agents] to draw on.”

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