Published February 2020
Contrary to popular belief, spring break isn’t only for college students and families with children on holiday from school. According to a recent study, one in four adults are traveling for spring break this year. That means people from all walks of life are jumping at the opportunity to escape dreary weather in favor of sunshine and relaxation.
Right about now, millions of Americans are starting to plan their spring break, which most commonly takes place from March to mid-April. That’s why we decided to learn more about what spring breakers are looking for in a vacation, so we could share the best, most informed recommendations on how to make it unforgettable.
First, we wanted to get a better sense of what travelers care about most these days, and how they want to spend their spring break.
We teamed up with Allison+Partners in February 2020 to survey 1,351 Americans over the age of 18. Fielding was conducted on the Qualtrics Insight Platform and the panel was sourced from Lucid. Respondents were given the opportunity to select multiple answers to each question. And, here’s what we learned.
Ninety-three percent of folks we surveyed said eco-friendly travel is the way to go. Given the broader cultural focus on over-tourism and human impact on the environment, we’re not surprised. But what are they doing to take action, you ask? Here are the top three ways travelers are living their truth.
Eighty-five percent of our respondents want to retreat to a small, charming town over spring break. Another socially conscious move to combat over-tourism? We think so. But, we also know people innately crave the untapped and never-before-seen. These are the aspects of their vacation they’re most looking forward to.
Most travelers think a vacation without a dog is no vacation at all (and we agree). Here’s to never leaving Fido behind.
With the average full-time worker in the U.S. earning about $936 per week according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it appears people are budgeting a few weeks of pay for their spring vacation. But, they’re not going too crazy.
Forty-seven percent of spring break travelers are planning on choosing cost-effective transportation, and 42% are going to save by selecting affordable lodging. Pro tip: you can save on accommodations by booking a vacation rental for your group and splitting the cost instead of reserving separate (and spendy!) hotel rooms.
We were shocked (and pleased) to see this. It certainly seems that more and more travelers are discovering the importance of disconnecting, and they’re making a conscious effort to put their phones down.
Unsurprisingly, hard-working Americans can’t wait to unwind for a week or two. And thanks to our findings in #5, we know they’re setting aside laptops and minimizing screen time to focus on what matters most: spending time with loved ones.
We asked what types of activities spring breakers plan on doing that they wouldn't normally do at home—and we were amused by the results.
And, a couple more things we’d be remiss not to tell you:
We wanted to help spring breakers decide where to go, whether they’re traveling solo or with family and friends. We identified the seven most popular vacation rental destinations by combing through a comprehensive set of Vacasa and partner data, looking at combined occupancy in the U.S. markets where we operate during the month of March through mid-April spanning 2018, 2019, and what we have on the books so far for 2020.
But, as we heard from our survey respondents, some prefer the road less traveled. That’s why our travel experts also hand-selected smaller towns and cities near our popular spring getaways, with a similar look and feel. These hidden gems allow travelers to escape flocks of tourists, endless lines, and crowded restaurants. Plus, they can even score some deals.
Featured Vacasa home: Iconic Views
Nicknamed Magic City, Miami has grown to become the cultural center of Florida. Miami’s skyline, ranked the third most impressive in the U.S., starkly contrasts with its beautiful beaches. Rumor has it, most of the bars never close, so you can dance the night away.
Featured Vacasa home: LaRaya Retreat
Anna Maria is four hours from Miami and it definitely has less nightlife, but the quaint town is bursting with old Florida charm. It has 8,500 residents, tons of locally owned shops, miles of white sandy (and dog-friendly!) beaches, and some of the kindest people you’ll meet.
Featured Vacasa home: That 70s House
Known by many as a desert oasis, Sedona is surrounded by red rock formations and steep canyon cliffs. The center of town has vibrant art galleries, upscale spas, and stylish boutiques for luxury travelers who want to unplug and unwind.
Featured Vacasa home: Lynx Cabin
If you’re craving a less touristy hideaway, try Flagstaff. More of a college town than a popular vacation destination, the high desert charmer is affordable, hip, and lively. You can shop your heart out, explore the many dog-friendly hiking trails, and end the night at one of Flagstaff’s best-loved bars.
Featured Vacasa home: Turtle Cove
Plenty of people are escaping the cold during spring break, so it’s no wonder another city in the Sunshine State ranked among our top five most popular destinations. Family-friendly Jacksonville Beach sits along the Atlantic coastline, with quick access to the sea and tons of oceanfront resorts to choose from.
Featured Vacasa home: Sandy Sunrise
Amelia Island might be known by some Florida residents, but to the rest of the U.S., it’s a true hidden gem. With uncrowded beaches and legendary seafood, Amelia Island is perfect for low-key travelers who love to indulge. It’s even home to the state’s oldest bar, the Palace Saloon, which opened its doors in 1903.
Featured Vacasa home: Island Colony 4218
Famed for its stunning beaches, volcanic Diamond Head crater, and many hotels, Honolulu is the most active cosmopolitan city among the Hawaiian islands. You can hit up high-end shopping malls, then stretch out on a beach towel with a Mai Tai in hand.
Featured Vacasa home: Hale Kailea
Travelers who cringe at the thought of crowds will love Oahu’s neighbor, Kauai—an island celebrated for its wild beauty. Hanalei has a crescent moon-shaped beach and a stunning pier where you can watch the waves crash against the shoreline. But, keep in mind it gets more rain than Honolulu, even when it’s warm outside.
Featured Vacasa home: St. Claude Avenue
People flock to the Big Easy for Mardi Gras during the month of February, but it’s a coveted destination year-round. Not only can you tour swamps and hold gators, you can also take a haunted tour through St. Louis Cemetery and enjoy quality French dining.
Featured Vacasa home: Alpine Retreat
If you’re not feeling like braving the crowds in NOLA, but you still want a slice of European heaven without leaving the country, consider Helen in Northeast Georgia. It’s full of history dating back to the 1800s and old Bavarian buildings. Helen is considered more affordable than New Orleans, too, so you can count on staying within your budget.
Featured Vacasa home: Nido en la Ventana
A desert city with diverse cultural influences, Tucson is for travelers who love adobe architecture and unbeatable sunsets. Get a full view of Tucson from Tumamoc Hill, and take time to explore the wonders of Saguaro National Park.
Featured Vacasa home: Vistoso Village Place
Just six miles from the heart of Tucson, Oro Valley is one of the region’s best-kept secrets. The charming town has more than 50 miles of hiking trails nestled against the Santa Catalina Mountains. Once you get tired of strolling in the sun, take the short drive to Tucson to cool down with a tall drink.
Featured Vacasa home: Balboa Beauty
Southern California is an easy choice for spring break, but more people are deciding against ever-popular L.A. in favor of the O.C. Lined with oceanfront manors and rows of yachts, Newport Beach is the picture of California luxury.
Featured Vacasa home: San Clemente - North Beach D
Known as the “Spanish Village by the Sea,” San Clemente is one of the region’s most charming, yet often overlooked, coastal towns. Soak up the sunshine from the San Clemente Pier, stroll along the beach, or try your hand at surfing.
Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.