We have officially entered the amazing month of March, which can only mean one thing: it’s Spring Break season!
In this 3-part series, I will focus on the different types of Spring Break trips and destinations anyone can enjoy this time of year. Whether you are a fearless solo traveler, an adventurous explorer or the Spring Break partier – each post will include in depth travel information, amazing deals, packing guides and all the destination inspo in the world.
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PART 1: THE EXPLORER
THIS PART IS PERFECT FOR YOU IF:
› You’re not in college anymore, but that won’t stop you from having a memorable Spring Break.
› You like to travel, but things like work or life have gotten in the way and you’re SO ready for a vacation.
› You are open to traveling to new places in search of exciting experiences.
Spring Break is not just for college students!
Why not take their cue and plan your own adventure? But, you know, the more experienced explorer version rather than drunken pool parties, though those are perfectly fine too if you want!
March, April and early May are known as pre-peak season because they are leading up to the crazy summer season, but not quite there yet. (Peak season is usually from late May until late August.)
This means smaller crowds and cheaper prices on just about everything!
2019 Top Spring Destinations for Explorers
It’s no wonder that a place as beautiful and unique as the Amalfi Coast has been given the honor of being named a UNESCO Heritage Site. With its cliffs and rugged landscape, it is truly one of the most memorable destinations in all of Italy.
In addition to its sheer beauty, it also has the most delicious food (I had the best pasta a la carbonara in my life here) and the friendliest people.
A short train ride from Rome or Naples will have you in Salerno in no time. From there, you can take ferries to any of the other neighboring cities, like Positano and Ravello.
My favorite place to look for the best deals on flight + hotel bundles is, without a doubt, Expedia.
From the US, you will need to fly into Rome or Naples in order to access entry into the Amalfi Coast as there are no direct flights that will get you there.
» Flights from Australia including Hotel offer: book 5 nights get 1 Free
The easiest (and closest) point of entry into the Amalfi Coast is through Salerno. Total trip takes about 3-4 hours from Rome and 1-2 hours from Naples, depending on number of stops.
There are so many options of places to stay in this incredible area of Italy. Some of the best resources include:
» Airbnb: there is no shortage of places and possibilities you can find here. Be sure to filter to your exact requirements, including number of rooms, price, private room versus entire apartment, etc..
* Pro Tip: the more you use booking.com, the more discounts you receive as a “Genius” user.
» TripAdvisor One of my favorite places to look for not only accommodations, but also tips and reviews on every part of my trip. I love visiting this site and getting tons of relevant information based on other traveler’s experiences.
» Salerno in Alto Mare: The best B&B in all of Salerno. If you make your way to the Amalfi Coast, do look into staying at this incredible place where the views are breathtaking, the rooms spotless and the hosts end up becoming your friends!
The half day tour of Positano, Sorrento and Pompeii is hands down the best tour you can take while you’re here. It takes you through Positano, Sorrento and Pompeii with a guide and skip-the-line capabilities for only $90 USD!
Want something more private?
Spain is a truly magical place to visit in the months leading up to summer – this is especially the case with Palma de Mallorca. As you walk the streets of this beautiful island, there is a feeling of electricity in the air, everyone is out and excited for the warmer weather.
Known for its beautiful resorts, beach parties and historical sites, Palma has it all.
There are various ways of getting to this beautiful island. National and international flights will leave you right in the center of Palma de Mallorca. Alternatively, there are ferries that leave from within Spain (Barcelona or Valencia) and take about 7 hours to arrive.
While this travel time may sound crazy, hear me out…if you take an overnight ferry, you arrive in Mallorca by morning, saving travel time that you can now use to explore and enjoy during the day.
Depending on the date of travel and how early you purchase tickets for either of these options, you can definitely find some great prices.
If you wish to take a ferry, there are 2 main companies that provide this service from various ports within Spain:
Deals starting at $23 USD one-way, subject to travel dates and availability. Group offers and open tickets available for purchase. Additional discounts applied for large families, military personnel, residents and children (infants are free).
These ferries are like mini cruise ships, providing onboard entertainment, including children zones, massages, musical theater, pools, etc. Group and resident discounts are available. Rates start at $34 USD one-way.
» From US (east coast), one-way deals start as low as $136 USD to Barcelona in April
» From US (east coast), one-way deals start at $166 USD to Valencia in April
Once in Spain, you need to take a smaller flight that would take you to the very center of Palma.
Note: Valencia airport can be challenging for visitors with walking disabilities as the distances are far between terminals.
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BEST PLACE TO PARTY
While I did mention that this was a guide for explorers rather than the typical spring breakers, you can’t go to Mallorca and not stop by Magaluf!
Known for its gorgeous beaches and amazing party scene, the resort is located in the Calvia district of Mallorca. Some of the best clubs in the world can be found on the Punta Balena strip.
Pro Tip: Take advantage of the 24 hour ticket and use the bus to get around the island after you’ve seen everything you want to see instead of using cabs or other methods of transportation!
» 5.5 hour private tour of the caves and pearl factory
» A classical concert performed on one of the largest underground lakes in the world
» Slow cruise through a beautifully lit underground lake
» Hotel pickup services available
Few places in the world can make you feel the way you do when standing in the center of Grand-Place, also known as Grote Markt, the city’s main square. With its larger-than-life medieval buildings covered in gold which seem to shimmer in the sunlight, there is no shortage of things to marvel at in this beautiful city.
Known for its chocolate, beer and waffles, the capital city of Belgium is a popular place to visit to learn about the country’s history while enjoying food and fun. Home to the Atomium, Mannekin Pis and the birthplace of the world’s most famous cartoons (there is an entire comic strip in the center of the city), Brussels offers beauty, history and some of the most interesting stories of any European city.
One of the best things about the city is that there are tons of fantastic day trips you can make that only require a simple train ride and are still within the country!
Brussels has 2 main airports that service premium and budget airlines. However, due to its location, you can easily decide to fly into neighboring cities outside of Belgium and take a train into one of its many stations.
There are 3 major train lines that service the entire city and neighboring regions.
PRO TRAVELER TIP: The most important thing to remember is that Brussels is a bilingual city and most places have Dutch AND French names. Be sure to know both names to avoid confusion when booking tickets or looking at train schedules.
» Brussels Nord – also known as Gare du Nord or Noordstation
Popular train station with many stops, but not the main station. This station doesn’t have any connections to other stations or parts of the city, but does offer tram service (Lines 3 + 4) which take you to the center of the city.
» Brussels Centrale – also known as Gare Centrale or Brussel Centraal
The city’s main station and the center of all intercity activity in Brussels. You will most likely arrive at this station if you are coming from other cities within Belgium.
» Brussels Midi – also known as Gare du Midi or Zuidstation
While it is not the most popular, it is the busiest train station of the 3. Services offered at this station include intercity trains, metro, trams as well as international high speed trains: Eurostar and Thalys. The station also features cafes and a food court! You will depart from this station if traveling to other countries outside of Belgium or if traveling through on itineraries such as Germany to the Netherlands.
While the country does not have a single transit pass, it shares a regional pass that covers the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Although it is shared amongst 3 countries, this pass is technically classed as a “one-country pass”.
Prices start at $172 USD and go up depending on number of days, age and whether you want first or second class seats.
If you are traveling before May 15, there is a current promotion that offers a first class pass for second class prices.
There are so many things to see and do in Brussels, ranging from tasting their delicacies to learning all about their rich history! Here are some top tours in the city:
DAY TRIPS FROM BRUSSELS
Brussels is the hub for various neighboring cities both within and on the outskirts of the country.
» Ghent and Bruges Day Trip From Brussels This tour is perfect for people with limited time. A knowledgeable guide takes you through both cities and shows you the most popular and memorable places. Tour includes round trip transportation from Brussels.
» Luxembourg Day Trip from Brussels: Two Countries in One Day – Amazing tour that takes about 9-10 hours and shows you the sights of Luxembourg.
» Amsterdam Day Trip from Brussels – one of my favorite tours! Transportation time is very short and the views are incredible the whole way there.
» Antwerp Half Day Trip from Brussels – The small city of Antwerp is the perfect getaway when visiting Belgium with tons of sites to see!
There is nothing quite like Paris in the spring. The air is still crisp, but during peak times of the day, the temperature does get pretty warm. The best part about a getaway in the early months of the year is that you get the chance to see the city unbothered by crowds of people as high season has not yet hit.
There is no end to the amount of things you can see while visiting this beautiful city. The best part about it all is that you can stay for a few days or weeks and still have things you didn’t get a chance to check out!
Being one of the most popular cities in the world has its advantages. There are tons of transportation methods in and around Paris, the difference in language is not a barrier as many people, if not everyone, speaks English and are willing to help you if they see you are struggling and there is always something new and interesting happening on any given day around the city.
Please note that there are various airports in and around the Paris area, which means you will need to plan for travel time to and from.
» Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) – the most popular airport in Paris. If you are flying internationally, you will most likely land/leave from here. Cheapest method of transportation to the center of Paris: RER Regional Train – takes about 50 minutes total.
» Paris-Beauvais Airport (BVA) – if you are flying within Europe or on a budget airline, chances are you will need to go to this airport. The good news is that transportation is simple. There is a shuttle located across the street from the airport that takes you directly into the center of Paris for only $18 USD. The total trip time is about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
When visiting Paris, don’t be afraid of using their train system. The city has made it super easy for visitors to get around and explore. If you are going to be taking the metro, be sure to look into the options for ticket bundles.
» Paris Visite Pass – allows you to explore the city with unlimited train travel. Prices start at €6.60/$8 USD and depend on number of days, number of zones and age.
» Ticket Carnet – A booklet of 10 tickets that you can buy together for €14.90/$17 USD instead of getting single tickets at €1.90/$2.16 USD each.
» Paris Passlib’ – An incredible pass that includes unlimited transportation all over Paris, museum access (including popular museums like the Louvre), a boat cruise on the Seine, Open Bus tour for 1 day and the option to purchase reduced admission priority access ticket to the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower. Prices start at €26/$30 USD and are dependant upon number of days and age.
There are really so many to pick from, but these are some of the most popular tours offered in the beautiful City of Lights:
NEW YORK CITY
A post about the top places for explorers to visit in the spring wouldn’t be complete without mentioning New York City!
The City That Never Sleeps is also the city that has tons of things for visitors to do year-round, but especially in the months of March-May.
Due to the low number of tourists, there are lots of opportunities to get discounted and even free activities added to your itinerary. Who doesn’t love that?
Similar to Paris, one of the biggest perks of being a popular city is the number of airport and transportation options available in and around the city.
Please note that there are several airport options around the area – some not so close to the city – so you will need to add transit time for each.
» JFK International Airport (JFK) – No matter what time of day or day of the week, there always, always seems to be traffic getting to or from this airport. Please make sure to leave AMPLE time if you are going through JFK.
Cabs are available and by law must offer a set fare from the airport, which will usually be about $60 USD. Sometimes, this rate can turn out to be better than Uber (or any similar service), so just make sure you check various options first.
The cheapest route will undoubtedly be traveling by train. You can board the Airtrain in the airport and travel to either the Howard Beach Station, where you can catch the A Train, or Sutphin Boulevard Station, where you can catch the E, J or Z Train. The Airtrain costs $5 USD and the subway is $3 USD, making your total trip $8 USD and putting you pretty much anywhere you want within Manhattan.
» Laguardia Airport (LGA) – This airport is smaller than JFK, but is popular because it will usually offer lower rates on flights in and out of NYC. There are no flat rates here, but a cab will cost you about $40-$50 USD (after tolls and tip).
Traveling via public transportation will be the cheapest at only $3 USD total, but is only a good option if you don’t mind walking up and down stairs, have light luggage and lots of time as your trip can be upwards of 2 hours.
» Newark International Airport (EWR) – Even though this airport is technically in a different state, it’s actually the easiest one to fly in and out of NYC from plus you will often find great deals.
To travel via public transportation take the AirTrain to the NJ Transit terminal. The cost is $5.50 USD and is included in the fare to NYC. From here, take the train to Penn Station (Pro Tip: Make sure it is NEW YORK Penn Station and not Newark!) which will take about 20 minutes. This will leave you in midtown Manhattan where you have access to anything in the city and direct access to various subway lines as well as the PATH.
BEST FREE THINGS TO DO IN NYC IN THE SPRING
My absolute favorite thing about New York City in the springtime is the number of cool things you can do without spending a ton of money.
» Visit Central Park – by far the best time of year to stroll through this immense park. Bring a blanket and a good book or some food for an afternoon picnic or simply your best walking shoes for hours of exploration. One of the highlights: Central Park Boat Ride.
» Check out the Macy’s Flower Show – one week a year, the superstore covers its windows with incredible flower designs in their windows and throughout their store. It’s magnificent to see in person.
» Walk the High Line – what was once an old train track is now one of the city’s most beautiful walking paths. Going from downtown Meatpacking District to Midtown, you can take a walk at your pace and see the city through a different light. Food trucks and vendors are available all along the way and as it gets warmer out, other activities, such a telescope night, are offered.
» Ride the Staten Island Ferry – it’s FREE! Also, you get some pretty incredible views of Lady Liberty which may allow you to cross off your NYC bucket list without having to spend a dime! Bonus: trips start early (8am) and end late (11pm).
» See Times Square – even though as a native I try and avoid this place at all costs, anyone visiting NYC absolutely should see it during their trip. My advice? Head over as late or as early as possible – like literally 4am – to have the place to yourself while still being able to witness the spectacular lights and buildings that make it one of the most famous sites in the world.
» Take Part in the Biggest Pillow Fight in the World – every year, the city puts on their ridiculously fun pillow fight at Washington Square Park. If you’re in New York during April (the 4th to be exact), take part in something cool. I bet you won’t have a more interesting story than this!
One of the amazing things about this city is that there is something for absolutely every taste. Whether you want to see the main sites or go off the beaten path – New York City delivers.
» One World Observatory with Skip the Line Pass
» Small Group Early Access Tour of Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
» Full Day Guided Small Group Tour
» Small Group Tour of Catacombs by Candlelight
Student & Youth Travel Perks
This section falls under “Things I Wish I Would Have Known in my 20s” mainly because I spent so much money traveling not realizing there are tons of perks for people under 30 that exist all over the world!
While not everyone reading this falls under that age group, some of you still do, so I am giving you all the information I failed to receive in my 20s!
STA or START THE ADVENTURE
STA is not exclusively just a youth travel company, but also caters to students and has so many deals and promotions available.
An awesome travel company that offers deals and tours exclusively to anyone ages 18-35. The company excels at finding the coolest accommodations, providing local experiences and giving everyone on their tour a chance to become lifelong friends through the incredible memories made on trips.
No matter where you decide to go this Spring Break season, there are certain essentials you should ALWAYS pack with you.
Be on the lookout for Part 2 of the series next Friday:
SPRING BREAK 2019 DESTINATION GUIDE FOR PARTY LOVERS