Spring break is almost here, so it's officially time to pack up your swimsuit and beach reads and get some much-needed vitamin D. But don't worry if you haven't made any travel plans yet — here are tips on booking and where to go without breaking the bank.
To get the best deal on flights, you should travel mid-week, according to Hopper, an app that uses data to predict and analyze airfare. Friday is the most popular day to depart, says Hopper, so it's also the most expensive. In fact, it will cost you 20 percent more than flying on a Tuesday, the cheapest day to depart.
When it comes to your return trip, Hopper's Spring Break Cheat Sheet recommends avoiding a Sunday flight — it will cost you 10 percent more than returning on a Friday. Also try avoiding peak spring break travel time. Hopper pegs the most expensive times to travel from a U.S. airport this spring between April 2 and April 15, when flights can have a 25 percent premium.
Where to go
Beyond booking, where you go can also make a difference for your budget. Here some popular but affordable destinations offering deals this spring break season. Keep in mind that flight deals are often fleeting and airfare fluctuates frequently.
Key West, Florida
This sunny location was named the Top Domestic Deal Destination for Under $500 in a report from travel search engine Kayak. Domestically, Key West is seeing the biggest drop in airfare when compared to last year, Kayak says, with prices down 13 percent and a median airfare of $421.
While a search for hotel prices in Key West for the beginning of April yield pretty hefty rates — from over roughly $250 a night to over $410 a night — Airbnb offers some pretty affordable and unique accommodation options. For example, this Key West boat rental sleeps three and starts at $165 a night.
Las Vegas ranked fifth on Kayak's list for Top Domestic Deal Destinations Under $500, with airfare down 12 percent this year at a median price of $238.
Airlines often offer flash sales for tickets to this hot spot too. Airfare Watchdog recently highlighted a number of deep deals for flights to Sin City, including $66 round-trip flights on Alaska Airlines from Los Angeles, $94 round-trip flights from Washington, D.C. on United and flights slightly over $100 from Chicago on Spirit. The deeply discounted flights are currently available for select dates ranging from late March to late May.
While you're there, be sure to get the most for your money. The Platinum Hotel and Spa ranked sixth in the Top 25 Value for Money Hotels in the U.S. for 2018 in TripAdvisor Traveler's Choice awards. As of Friday, rates at the beginning of April are going for a little less than $150 a night, and the hotel offers amenities like indoor and outdoor pools, walk-out balconies, a spa and a salon.
Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Before the summer crowds flock to the most magical place on earth, use spring break as an excuse to squeeze in a trip.
Disney World is currently offering up to 20 percent off rooms at select Disney Resort hotels. The deal is valid for stays most nights from April 15 through June 10, when you book through April 7. The offer is valid for Disney Resort hotels like Disney Deluxe Villas and Disney Deluxe Resorts.
However, be prepared for at least a few long lines. Kayak's study found that Orlando is the most-searched destination for spring break travel this year, edging out Las Vegas (which ranked second), Los Angles (ranked third) and Miami (ranked fourth).
Caribbean islands dominated Kayak's ranking of the Top International Deal Destinations for Under $500 for spring break this year. Trinidad and Tobago topped the list, with flight prices down 20 percent and a median airfare of $430, followed by Turks and Caicos, which currently boasts a 14 percent decrease in airfare from last year and a median airfare of $420. Saint Thomas, part of the United States Virgin Islands, rounded out Kayak's top three, with a median airfare of $461, down 14 percent from last year.
Southwest Vacations, which offers leisure vacation packages for Southwest airlines, is currently offering deals (some with savings of over $200) for resorts on Caribbean islands like Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Aruba for departure dates beginning in mid-March.
Note: Last year, Hurricane Irma and Maria devastated many Caribbean islands and recovery is still in progress. This resource from the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association lists the latest updates, so be sure to check it out before you go. You can also explore voluntarism opportunities and help communities in need re-build.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico snagged the number one spot on U.S. News & World Report's ranking for the Best Cheap Spring Break Destinations. The report states that people can often find round trip flights for $350 or less on many airlines.
Cabo San Lucas ranked second on U.S. News & World Report's list. Meanwhile, Monterrey, Mexico ranked fifth on Kayak's ranking of spring break locations in the category for Top International Deal Destinations Under $500, with median airfare of $322, down 12 percent from last year.
If you're feeling adventurous and down to do something a little different, consider Japan. March through May is one of the best times of year to go, Travel and Leisure reports.
Kayak found the Top Trending International Spring Break Destination this year with the biggest increase in searches for spring break travel is Nagoya, Japan (with a spike in searches of 144 percent). It's one of the locations travelers can see the country's iconic cherry blossoms, with peak viewing forecasted to be between March 29 and April 6.
The city has also cracked the list's top 10 in the category for the Top International Deal Destinations, boasting a major dip in airfare price when compared to last year. Kayak found that prices to Nagoya are down 16 percent, with a median airfare of $697. While you're there, you can also visit tourist hot spots like the Yamazaki River, Nagoya Castle and the Yamazaki Mazak Museum of Art.
Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook!