Spring break escapes that avoid the college crowds

With yet another round of winter in the East, it can seem awfully tempting to escape somewhere warm.

One look at prices, though, and it's clear you're not the only one with that idea. Demand is up for spring airfares this year, with domestic tickets costing $442, or 15 percent more than last year, according to Travelocity.

(Read more: Warm weather travel spikes as ice, snow return)

Travelers looking to escape the cold and avoid the crowds of families and college students celebrating their spring breaks will need to take evasive maneuvers. Hopper.com suggests avoiding the weeks of March 16, April 6 and April 13. That's when more school breaks are scheduled—and prices are as much as 28 percent higher.

It also pays to be flexible on your destination. While many spring breakers are headed to Mexico and the Bahamas, Fly.com reports that some of the best airfare deals right now are to places that cater less to those crowds (and college budgets), including Turks & Caicos (as cheap as $337 from New York), and Maui ($422 from San Jose). For those who can take an extended break, fares to Milan run as cheap as $619--about $200 less than to other parts of Italy and other Mediterranean destinations.

—By CNBC's Kelli B. Grant. Follow her on Twitter @Kelligrant and on Google.

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