9 Spring Breaks, From Budget to Beyond

We gave a few travel agents an assignment: come up with three weeklong vacations for a family of four. The result is nine trips, from thrifty Florida to in-your-dreams French Alps.

Comments: 152

  1. You folks must live in a different world. $4 grand for the Dismal Kingdom? Come on.

  2. I went to a Disney park once about 50 years ago. I can't imagine ever going again to ANY such theme park, Disney or other. My boyfriend at the time wanted to see it; all I wanted was to leave.
    Needless to say I soon sent him packing.

  3. You’re right, JW. Once was enough. Never again.

  4. $90k for the 1st high end week-long vaction? Wow, at my salary, I never considered working three years just to pay for a week's vacation, but apparently someone has. When you are a member of the 1%, does all rational cost just fly out the window?

  5. Seriously? Your "budget" week of travel is $4500?! What is this, the Billionaire Times? Next time, please get real.

  6. $5,000 is a budget trip??

  7. try the catskill mountains
    belleayre mountain , woodstock , hunter !
    vacation family of four $1000 - $1500
    hiking , some sking , adventure , sports , tons to do
    low carbon footprint !

  8. Does anyone actually pay these prices? I can get you to Europe for a week in a 3 star hotel for less money. How absurd. Will the NY Times ever write travel articles for real people?

  9. You can get a much better deal in Vancouver than the Fairmont Hotel. Try the Manor Guest House, for example, in the downtown area, where you can get a big room that sleeps 4 with private bath for $135CDN per night that includes parking, wi-fi, local and long distance calls, and all the other stuff the hotels know how to charge for.

  10. Is this story about vacations for Mitt Romney and his ilk?

  11. How about letting us know how to do these destinations on the cheap? Say for one person who only wants a clean room with a bed?

  12. Read about frugal trade.

  13. This article must be directed at the 1%. Were trying to stay alive and have food and shelter.

  14. you got that right Rich

  15. Whatever happened to the good 'ole Road Trip? No TSA lines, stop when and where you want, eat road food, talk to local people, explore some spot on the map just because it's interesting....endless possibilities, much easier on the family budget.

  16. Great idea if you can afford the gas

  17. Trina

    You can buy an awful lot of gas for $4000. In our Prius you can get from Denver to Chicago for $120 max. In our truck you can do it for $360.

  18. I must be cheap as heck. Im going to Portugal for a week for less than 2k including airfare and a $50-75 buck a day food budget (breakfast is included at most hotels).

    4k for Disney sounds ridiculous.

  19. Are you booked on a tour? I am trying to put together a trip to Portugal as well.

  20. Remember the tube of toothpaste! Squeezed up.
    Find happiness in affordable entertainment & happiness.

  21. Welcome to NYC's version of "budget" and moderate cost trips. And then they complain about why their taxes are so high. Why? Because that's where the money is.

  22. I can't possibly envision myself on any of those trips. Most are to places that I simply do not want to visit, even if they were free.
    If you want to go to the islands in the Caribbean, go further south where it just might be warm. If you want coastal California, just head west from where you are. I recommend the smaller towns. The weather can be almost anything, except snow and ice, but it could feel almost as cold. For either trip forget the big name hotels and book a week at a small B & B or a room with kitchen facilities somewhere. Shop the local markets for food to fix, occasionally have a meal out, and just "chill out".
    If Europe is your goal, head to Italy and Sicily. It won't be cheap. But a B&B combined with trips on the local public transit or walking are far more interesting and will show you much more about the culture than any number of theme parks.
    Ride the rails to your selected destination. If nothing else, this will demonstrate why we need to invest in US infrastructure. Service on the trains is generally excellent, beyond rough rails and delays, but the staff are very good.

  23. To me, a budget vacation means booking a hotel through an online discounter like Priceline or Hotwire. Orlando, for example, has a ton of unsold hotel rooms. For this year, I booked a 3 1/2 star resort for $50/night on Hotwire which cut the total bill quite a bit.

    The room also has a kitchen, so you can cut way down on the amount of money you spend eating out. Our total vacation package to Disney this year (although, as a Florida resident, we get breaks on the Disney ticket) is less than $700 for about a week.

  24. Great price, if you can stomach Disney.

  25. Clearly, this writer has a different idea of "budget" than I do.

  26. #2: That would be Victoria on Vancouver Island. Victoria Island is in the high Arctic. DO check geography before writing, please....

  27. Victoria is not in the "arctic" - high or low - never heard those terms.
    The arctic would be northern, not southern, Alaska or northern Yukon.
    Victoria is on the coast, gets rain, rarely light snow and is beautiful.

  28. $4500 is not budget, ESPECIALLY when the price does NOT include airfare which could easily total that for 4 people now with this week's fare increases (the price on AA went up $70 a ticket for my parents travel from LGA to DFW). Nuts.

  29. Just came back from a week on the FL gulf near Tampa. Watched for bargain airfares from the midwest ($250 round trip on SW). Stayed with a friend, cooked there. Groceries, a few lovely meals out, a massage, walks on the beach. My share, including flight and airport parking: $500. It can be done on the cheap without feeling the least bit pinched.

  30. Not everyone has a friend on the beach, and many, inclusing me, wouldn't find that to be a vacation. It' s a visit.

  31. Your friend may have been pinched with you there for a whole week.

  32. Boring + expensive!!
    How about a culture trip with a teen $800RT to Spain, speed train to Andalusia, B&B for about $50-60 (yes, you can get a room for 2 for 30 Euros) a night in Granada + Sevilla to visit the Alhambra + great Moorish + Spanish architecture. Eat tapas for lunch snack or enjoy a salad on a park bench, dinner for about $15pp plus drinks. Add a sidetrip to Cadiz for a dip in the ocean. Take train or bus. If you have an extra day you can take a boat to Algiers. For 4 that is about $200 a day plus transportation. At 8 nights that should be 2500-3000 max + airfare.

    Of course 1 week to Europe + Jet lag may not be the greatest. Go off the beaten path in Mexico, Costa Rica etc + stay in the same price range.

  33. Great thing about Banff is that there are privately owned bed and breakfastses all over the town. At peak season in the summer we stayed for around $100 a night for 2 people. It's a nice cheaper alternative to staying at a fancy hotel, and with everything there is to do outdoors in Banff, you shouldn't need to spend much time in the hotel room.

  34. I agree with dixiebelle. I have been to several of these places, (Orlando, Vancouver and Whistler, and spent far less than even the budget trips. It would be nice to see trips which people from the real world can afford.

  35. A budget trip that (without airfare!) is about 10% of the US median family income?

    I can hear families across the country either sighing because they can't afford that or laughing because it's not only an absurd figure but the suggestions are also so unimaginative. There is a whole world outside of theme parks and cruise ships and it's much more fun and educational.

    Researching a trip is a great project for families and a valuable learning experience for kids. Set a budget number then talk about what each family member wants from the vacation. Do you want to lay around on a beach and read? Visit museums? Ride roller coasters? Research locations, discuss what activities and attractions meet your needs, then see how those fit your budget. Adjust as needed. Let everyone pick one must-do and make a plan with contingencies for rainy days or other weather emergencies. The planning and anticipation coupled with realistic expectations is the basis for a great and memorable vacation experience.

  36. sighing and laughing

  37. NYT at its worst, clearly writing for the 1-3% in this country.
    Can you give this assignment to the Frugal Traveler? Or the writer from Motherlode?
    I don't want to stay in a spare bedroom of someone's apartment with my kids so tell the Frugal fellow to skip AirB&B and look into some of the options mentioned in other comments here.
    Absurd these budget amounts do not include air fare, makes the numbers useless, pretend - airfare for a family of 4 to somewhere simple like Florida from the East Coast at a busy vacation time of year and you add at least $2000, tix @$500 a piece. We have never flown anywhere as a family since the kids aged over 2 and required their own tickets.
    Disappointing piece.

  38. AirBnB is not just spare bedrooms--many rentals are entire flats or houses and you have perfect privacy and the conveniences of having a kitchen and even a washer/dryer (less to pack!), for instance. I've rented flats to myself in both Europe and the US for periods of a week or more and have had excellent experiences. Nothing more fun than being able to prowl a local farmers market and cook up a great meal in "your" kitchen.

  39. In what world is $4000+ a budget vaction for a week...oh, and that doesn't include air fare. I can do much better without a travel agent. Our family of 4 did a glorious week in Morocco last year for $2000. Totally ridiculous examples in this article.

  40. "Budget" for over 4 grand for just a week, not including airfare? What elitist blinders do you have on? If you can't organize a great trip for under 4 thousand dollars, you simply should exclude the word "budget" altogether from your article. I can think of a dozen places where you could have a great getaway for half that price or less and still have an amazing time. Travel in beautiful Guatemala, rent an apartment in Budapest (check out airbnb!), spend time in any of the beautiful state or national parks in this country...wow, you missed the boat on this one.

  41. When did a budget vacation become defined by spending at least $500 per day? The trips had no connection to life in the real world. The headline writer should get good marks for hooking me into reading this article as the writer lost me on the first "Budget" trip!!!

  42. Seriously, $4K for a week's winter vacation. This article is embarrassing. For the 1% or those that can afford multi-million dollar Manhattan apartments also described endlessly in this newspaper perhaps these prices are conceivable. For the rest of us, get real. We live in the NY metro area and a one day trip to the Metropolitan Museum (as members, so no $25 admissions) and parking (discounted for members--$31 for 4 hours) and a skimpy lunch for 2 at $28 ($2.75 each for 2 coffees) was the extent of my spring break budget for myself and my teen son.

    I agree with the road trip suggestion--go see the grandparents--at least you have some flexibility if a blizzard descends and you won't be sleeping in airports, not to mention missing all those carefully planned connections. Or spend a couple of nights at hotel/motel with a water park if you can afford it. Most metropolitan areas have wonderful cultural institutions with special activities for youngsters at this time. How many families have time to explore museums and musical events when schedules are packed with team games, errands (and does anyone clean house anymore?) Drive to a state park and take a day hike with picnic.

    Please NY Times, consider those of us who continue to subscribe to the newspaper we love but are feeling marginalized. No wonder subscriptions to the print editions have dried up.

  43. Completely agree with your last paragraph - and it is not just the travel section, the NYT is also quite out of touch with the 99% regarding their reporting in real estate, fashion, home & garden. Very disappointed.

  44. Keep pushing the cruises: you will like it on a floating septic tank for a week, with 5000 other people. Staistically, you will actually have running water and lights, and will not get food poisoning, and the ship will continue to have motive power when needed.

  45. A budget trip at $4,000 is a joke. Yeah, right. Give us something real people can afford, please.

  46. and didn’t even include all the extras - and there were many extras! Sheesh!

  47. Four GRAND is a "budget vacation?"

    *faints*

  48. Read carefully, silly. That four grand is without airfare And worse, at the theme parks, no food! Quote: ...beware: meals are not included in the overall price, so consider cooking in your room every other night to cut back costs.UnQuote

  49. I think I will stick with Seth Kugel's recommendations.

  50. Your travel columns are consistently aimed at the high end of your readers. Try to be a little more realistic for the majority of your readers who earn respectable but not outlandish incomes. Why bother to even mention Mr.Fishers million dollar week except in some fantasy article! I heartily agree one can book themselves a fine holiday using online agents and doing a bit of research. If you havent got the time to do the research fine, use a travel agent but dont fall for these absurb so called budget rates.

  51. What about a family trip to a third world country and volunteering to help people in need as the ultimate reality adventure? just a thought....

  52. That is your idea of a break? Most kids and adults would disagree...

  53. Are you serious? $90,000- 1 million for a vacation? How about some realistic ideas maybe from $500-$10000?

  54. When I read these, I realize that people who read the NY Times truly live in a different world. For my family, the budget trip would be the high end trip! Our Spring Break ideas were originally either driving to St. Louis or the Caves in Kentucky and staying at a Comfort Inn with a pool! We settled on a one night trip to a water park in Indianapolis. :)

  55. Aside from the comments on budget, your suggestion to use a travel agent, while admirable in supporting their trade, is unfounded for all but the most expensive or exotic vacations. If you need a travel agent to book a Disney vacation, you have to be just plain lazy. I recently planned what you would term a mid-priced trip, and consulted a travel agent, figuring that the extras and packages would be worth the premium I expected to pay. But, with a little bit of homework, I found I could easily save 10% over the travel agent's price. They have to work harder to get my business.

  56. I've said it before and I'll say it now: the New York Times has "Wall Street Journal Envy".

  57. VERY Lonely Planet - We have had a LOT more Fun for a LOT less Money. We have traveled to Mexico and Thailand and seen stunning Beaches and Flower Jungle-Covered Temples. We booked cheap Flights long in Advance - Stayed in Cheap but nice enough Hotels and ate like Locals instead of like Tourists. We spent our MONEY on local sights and activities and did NOT have to take out a 2nd Mortgage on the House.

  58. Why don't these travel agents recommend condominiums - same or lesser prices than hotels in Hawaii, Florida, and British Columbia and definitely more room - probably two bedrooms and two baths with living room and kitchen. VRBO is also an affordable option not mentioned.

  59. "mmm, i'll have what she's having." this article is not for real, right?

  60. $4000...budget right. That's about 2 months rent in Manhattan. This is totally off base.

  61. I agree with the consternation expressed by many of the readers of this article, $4500 is not a budget vacation in the real world. I don't know what kind of research was done for this article, but it didn't include an investigation of the average American household income.

  62. As a student in France, I remember spending, in 2000 or 2001, under $1000 for a week-long ski trip to the French alps, in Tignes (the station is at 1800m altitude, with a gigantic ski area that gives you enough to do for a week):
    * ski lift tickets week-long pass: about $150
    * ski rental for a week: about $150
    * studio room in the resort hotel, shared by 4 people: about $300 per person (max)
    * high-speed train to get there from Paris: about $200 or $300 (max)
    * raclette cheese for the fondue: $20

    Americans have a strange notion of vacations: they take only 1 or 2 weeks per year (if any) and involve extreme spending binges.

  63. Like its real estate section, the NY Times needs to seriously scale back its definition of "budget". When the "budget" vacation is 15% of the average family's yearly income, something is seriously wrong. Its time to stop catering to the 1%.

  64. There is no real estate in New York for people who aren't loaded. If the Times tried to cover reasonable NYC real estate, they'd have to nix the whole section.

  65. I appreciate these recommendations, but I think they are a bit unrealistic. I, too, would like to do a spring break trip for a reasonable price, but do the authors really expect the average traveler to be satisfied with a mass resort hotel like the Royal Canadian Lodge? And Coyotes Southwestern Grill? I might as well go to a Bobby Flay restaurant if I want to rub shoulders at closely packed tables. Where are the ecotourist, boutique resorts with modernist design? $4,500 for a week is just not going to get it done for those who want to travel with a minimum of comfort and style.

  66. Thanks for your budget travel suggestions. It really is an insult to be satisfied by a mass resort hotel. Are you sure you aren't really named Thurston Howell III? Or maybe it's Romney. For peasants like my family, a Comfort Inn is a perfectly doable respite from our tents. That's actual budget travel.

  67. It's interesting to me that the budget trip is around $4,000 for one week, when my wife and I are going to explore the entire Western US over 6 weeks for $2,000-$3,000. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned road trips combined with camping? Those were my favorite trips as a child!

  68. We are going to Hawaii in March; Hawaiian Airlines direct flight from JFK under $600/person. We are staying on the North Shore Oahu in a house for under $150/night and a beachfront hotel Maui, mountain view, for under $125. Renting a car, doing Molikini and Haleakala, Io Valley, and on Oahu, hitting all our favorite spots like Akasaka Sushi in Ala Moana, Bali Le, Champa Thai in Aiea, and of course, Hanauma Bay.

    You can do Hawaii on the cheap and have a GREAT time, trust me!

  69. wow, so wonderful to read that the travel agencies engaged to create these package vacations are just as unimaginative and pretentious as the clients they cater to! The plus side is that the truly inspirational destinations will be void of such crass and vapid visitors...

  70. 5000$ notaifare included is now a budget trip for spring brek?? I guess felt off the middle class without noticing ...

  71. Just came back from a spring break trip to FL (3 of us). $600 airfare, $900 for hotels (quality mid-range), $150 for car rental, $200 for gas (we drove quite a bit), $300 for admissions and $500 for some splurges. There are probably a few other small costs to add, but it all comes in at less than $3000 for 8 days, including airfare. And I know that we could have reduced it even further. Plus adding another child would have brought it to only slightly more than $3000.

  72. Your travel writers must make gobs of money if $4,500. is budget and $9,000 is moderate, for a spring break??? I want to be on your budget, Ms. Conlin. I can't even afford that for a summer vacation, andaccording to Mr. Obama, I am almost rich.

  73. I was shocked to see that the two most luxurious vacations my family has taken in the last ten years--a trip to Hawaii and a Disney cruise including 2 days in Orlando and 4 days in the Bahamas-- each of which cost close to $5,000 for three people INCLUDING airfare from Maine, were considered "budget" vacations by your writer. And there I was still feeling guilty about having spent that much. Get real.

  74. If you leave plane fare out of it, you can rent a great house or apartment almost anywhere via VRBO for 1500 per week (including Paris), saving on food therefore as well. Recently returned from 2 weeks in San Miguel de Allende where it was cheaper to fly than it is to Detroit, lived in a gorgeous house with staff, for under your $4500 'budget' deal.

    Few mentioned a different problem with the article: it really depends on how old your kids are. When mine were 8, 6, and 4 the options were much different than they were 16, 14, 12. Really little kids at DisneyWorld is BAD idea, given the lines and expense sicne they quickly get as tired of it as their parents do.

  75. To the editors and writers of the NYT: Please head the advise of your readers and put out a more realistic feature story on vacations. Your so called budget vacation at $4,000 is simply a slap in the face to 99-percent of your readers who can't even save half that amount in a year.

  76. This is a ridiculous article. My family of 5 saved for years for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation like the ones described here. This is a budget Spring Break vacation? Whose, the Romney family's?

  77. This is disgusting! How about teaching your children something other than about the frivolities that money can buy.

  78. This article really is embarrassing. People who can afford $4000 - $1mm for a one week vacation for four are assuredly not getting travel tips from the NYT (sorry gang).

    Many commenters have pointed to reality so I will simply agree that there are scads of much better - and way more affordable - options which the 99% can and do readily access. And that's doubly true when assembled ala carte by the customer themselves. You nod to travel agents and their supposed access to discounts and special knowledge is also embarrassingly out of date.

  79. Yes, maybe $500 to $1,500? You know, one or two weeks take home pay for us working stiffs.

  80. Perhaps this article was useful or helpful to someone. But I only got as far as the $4,500 for a week, not including airfare (or green fees.) Nice try. But anyone spending their own money, not the newspaper's, can do better.

  81. Just click your heels together and say "There is no place like home." Be grateful that you have a job and vacation pay.

  82. It's easy to plan a fabulous family vacation with unlimited funds, a lot more difficult to stick to a budget. Favorite spring break trip I planned this year? A family of 6 with kids ages 11 - 18, 11 days in Ireland in 4 and 5 star Manor/Castle hotels in 3 rooms in Galway, Dingle Peninsula, Kerry and Dublin with breakfast, an automatic van, Ring of Kerry tour and airport transfers for $6,000 land only, well under the "moderate" budget for a family of 4!

  83. Are you kidding?

  84. Can you say, "Go camping,"???!!!

  85. Great article! We would have also loved to see a Culture Vulture mention for the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas in Nassau. It is a superior art collection under the direction of VOLTA Art Fair's Amanda Coulson, set in an impeccably restored 1700s mansion. For the budget minded this is unbelievable value at only $5 admission.

  86. This article is insulting. $4000 is a Budget vacation?

  87. Okay, now that dream trip ideas for the 1% is out of the way, how about suggesting some real trips for the 99%?

  88. You are kidding, aren't you?

  89. To think that spending up to $4,500, NOT counting airfare, is a "budget" vacation is outlandish!

    After all the suffering our country has been through since the financial calamity in 2008, and millions of middle-class people (many well-educated) still unemployed, or underemployed; with costs rising all around us, the elimination and reduction of middle-class pensions, loss of decent-paying union jobs, the pay cuts endured by those still employed who fear for their job security, the sparse job opportunities for new graduates, and the dim prospects for our country's financial futire, to think the NYT considers $4,500, NOT counting airfare, a "budget" vacation is just ridiculous.

    My own family is solidly upper-middle class, lives within our means, and is cost-conscious and thrifty with all our spending decisions. Spending approximately $7,000 or more (after factoring in airfare) for a family of four for a "Spring Break" vacation is just off-the-charts bizarre, especially considering the college costs we must save for, for our two children.

    Assuming a family could afford this, what is left over for the vacation that most Americans think is THE main vacation of the year----Summer vacation?

  90. I look to the travel section for good ideas. But these trips are silly and way too expensive. Surely the NYTimes can do better.

  91. "The "budget" vacation is "four days at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, three days at Universal Studio and one day at SeaWorld"? NOT including airfare or meals? The article states the kiddies can go to a game room or a playground? Wow. Whoo wants to pay for that? I would much rather have my children on an isolated beach where they can build a sand catle, see a seagull or roseate spoonbill, where they can collect shells and watch a sunset in peace and tranquillity. We have become a country where we think a vacation must include such artificial places as Disney World, which is nothing more than an overly commercialized money vacuum. Who wants to see someone in a Mickey Mouse costume when we can see all the wonderful things that nature offers to us free?

  92. Memo to New York Times:

    Please Wake Up!

    This is 2013.

    This is not the country we all grew up in anymore.

    Things have changed for the worse, and it looks like things won't get better anytime soon.

    Tens of millions of people are suffering financially in this country. Every single day is a struggle to make ends meet for at least 95% of our population.

    Yes, even upper-middle class people are hurting!

    Of course, we have the corrupt banksters, oligarchs, and corporations----and the shameless politicians who do their bidding----to blame for the financial meltdown which caused this condition; but adding insult to their injury by your callous article is the height of insensitivity.

    Thanks for making over 95% of your readers feel marginalized by your preposterous claim that spending over $7,000 (including airfare) is merely a "budget" vacation.

    Haven't you been reading Paul Krugman the last several years?

  93. When did spring break become anything but a respite for tired college students? Reminds me of an effort a few years ago to establish the Fourth of July as a gift giving holiday. Nice to see that OCD is doing so well.

  94. There are plenty of travel blog writers and other experienced travelers who go all over the world, and have all kinds of wonderful vacations for far less than what is recommended under "budget" here. Our family of three has traveled to the Caribbean and Europe, stayed at a range of accommodations from two-star to four-star, and, including airfare, spent far less than $4,500 for the whole trip. I also agree with the Idaho resident about good old fashioned road and camping trips. We do this, too. The idea is to have a sense of adventure without breaking the bank no matter where you go. You don't need travel agents or itineraries for that. I blog about travel at katrinawoznicki.com and cheapoair.com.

  95. Each of thes trips, including the supposedly "budget" ones, are illustrations of the uselessnessof travel agents. Unimaginative, overpriced, and tiresomely mainstream. Disney parks? I need a professional to suggest this hidden destination? Please.

  96. You can put together your own vacation for less. For example, instead of booking some of these hotels use the "hotel search engine" at BestTravelCoupon.com to search 100s of sites for you. You will find better rates this way.

    The hotel (Royal Park Suites) the article suggests for Orlando? You can save 30-50% off those rates by using this search engine. Here is an example of the Orlando page: http://search.besttravelcoupon.com/City/Orlando.htm

    Use this to search for hotel deals in Orlando. One click. It posts the best sites for hotel deals at your destination.

    Victor

  97. Not one of these trips is budget. Try state parks in Kentucky and Tennessee. They have great facilities and are reasonably priced. Also, try Atlantic City. Hotels have great facilities and good prices for midd=week.

  98. Better, yet, how about the library.

  99. This article is embarrassing to read! The $1 million for a week reminds me of Marie Antoinette "Let them eat cake" --It's so out of touch with regular peoples' lives!

  100. I stopped reading when I saw that the budget vacation is priced at $4500.

  101. Me too! I was confused thinking "maybe they meant BIG budget trip"...yikes!

  102. . . . and if the travel agents in this article thought this would be good publicity for them, I think they'll be disappointed.

  103. This is embarrassing! Get real! This is for Spring Break! Is the NY Times paying its writers so highly that they think that this description of a family school Spring Vacation interval can be paid for at this level?

  104. The writer must aspire to write for some other fancier travel mag... and the agent charged with coming up with an innovative bargain vacation gets a D for lack of creativity, especially for the expensive theme park Orlando trip. A trio to Banff does sound better, but does not belong in the bargain bin when airfare for 4 is added.

    It is a sign of the huge disconnect that there is an assumption that a middle income family can blow that much on a "break."

  105. Spring break week with two grandchildren here in Minnesota. A day at the Mall of America with all day passes to the Nickelodeon Universe rides plus Lego Land, next day a trip to the Minnesota Zoo, next day a trip to the Science Museum of Minnesota, next day a trip to the Children's Theater to see a play and lastly a day spent at home playing board games and cards with us plus sledding on the hill in the back yard. Total cost: about $500. Fun for all and doesn't break the bank.

  106. I've taken my family of four on spring break trips over the years to Mexico, Las Vegas, New York, and am sure I didn't spend much over $3000. And that includes airfare. It does take more research and shopping around for cheaper airfare and lodgings, and it is probably why we haven't been to Disney World. What I consider budget trips are ones where we have to drive and are more local, like to indoor waterparks or larger cities, as long as the hotel had a pool, my kids were happy. Our budget trips also do not take up a whole week but usually three to five days, but it least it got us out of town and we are able to see some sites and museums and such. Our "budget" trips are more like $1000 to less that $1500.

  107. I was talking with my old friend Thurston Howell yesterday and He and Mrs. Howell are going on a 3 hour boat trip on Monday. He told me the captain is a very experienced and he has a wonderful first mate.

  108. It's hard for me to imagine that the average family of four could afford even the least expensive trip described here.

    Camping in a lovely southern state park or driving to Washington DC or Colonial Williamsburg and touring the sights seem more likely as budget alternatives.

  109. Even when my kids were young a week in Orlando doing nothing but amusement parks would have been awful--and not just for the adults. Long lines, bad food, chain motels and all at a cost that would have easily bought a spring week in a European city including airfare. When my kids were young we would take day trips to Disneyland from their grandmother's house and they always ended badly. It was a ripoff of the first order. Why glorify it?

    Here's an actual bargain spring break time vacation we took with our twenty something daughter and three dogs a few years ago. Pack up a tent for our daughter and our pickup camper for ourselves. Drive south to Taos, Santa Fe, Chaco Canyon, Canyon De Chelly, Canyonlands, and Moab camping all but one night. Eat occasional meals out including the best Navajo Tacos this side of Tuba City. Hike every day. Splurge on Navajo weavings and jewelry at Canyon De Chelly and Hubbell Trading Post. See the most spectacular spring flowers we have ever seen at Arches National Park. Swim at the Glenwood Springs Hot Springs on the way home. Spend no more than $1000 on the trip itself (truck is a gas hog) and feel very comfortable spending the money we did on the Navajo art. My daughter has long forgotten the overpriced stuffed animals we bought at Disneyland years ago; she still wears the bracelet she bought on her first trip to the Hubbell Trading Post when she was eleven.

  110. An additional thought: using the Times criteria of not counting travel to the destination or food, we actually "spent" around $300. Of course that's ridiculous just as is calling something a budget and not including expenses to get to the destination.

  111. You have got to be kidding me. How about some budget vacations for the 47%?

  112. Glad I'm not the only one to find the advice here to be ridiculous. Stories like this is why the NYT is the last place I turn to for travel advice.

    Last year, we spent 10 days in Madrid, with side trips by rail, great small hotels, good meals for under $5000, including airfare from Atlanta. The previous year, Istanbul for 10 days with a sensational boutique hotel, side trips, and great food.

    We use sites like Venere and Trip Advisor, among others. Get a grip, Times Travel.

  113. Take your spring break and your children to some place where there is no room service, no concierge, cold water shower is the norm - hot water a la carte, and maybe a place where children just like them do not and may not ever have access to a digital game. Teach them what a real life is like so that they know they are rich if they get three meals a day and a warm place to sleep at night. Costs lots less than Disneyworld, too.

  114. These prices are obscene. $90,000 for a week in London!

  115. Is it possible that this article is actually tongue-in-cheek satire about the travel section's penchant for conspicuous consumerism? Because if it isn't, then I think the only possible conclusion is that the Times does not think middle income folks read the paper. The poor, I guess, are beneath consideration.

  116. Boring boring utterly BORING. From the inane (Orlando theme park) to the sad (the London trip for those-who-wish-they-were-someone-else), not one of these trips were appealing regardless of price tag. No thanks, I've had far more fun with my own trips--far more adventurous and exciting: think experiences like beachcombing the Thames and finding Roman-era artifacts, canoeing the Okeefenokee swamps, and camping with an Aborigine family in the Northern Territories.

  117. I'm a little surprised no one has mentioned the possibility of home exchange to support an affordable week-long vacation. We have done home exchanges with several families coming to our beach community in Costa Rica. People from NYC, DC and Santa Fe, NM have traded us time in their homes for spring break time in ours. At other times of year we have enjoyed extended stays in Ireland, Spain (both the Mediterranean Coast and the Canary Islands), the Colorado Rockies and Manhattan with no out-of-pocket cost for housing through home exchanges. In mid-March we depart for one month in Cape Town, South Africa basing our stay at a beach apartment traded for our Costa Rica home. We were thrilled to have received an email from Travelocity that RT flights JFK to Cape Town were available for $1,014, far less than we'd feared we might have to pay. So we have a full month in South Africa with airfare totaling $2,028, no cost for housing, the ability to prepare our own morning coffee and meals and, this case, the use of a car at no cost but the actual operating expenses. THIS is a budget vacation to a distant and exotic place.

    There are many home exchange networks operating out there and many of our friends, like us, have enjoyed fabulous affordable vacations in places like Stockholm, Paris, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro through home exchanges. You pay an annual fee to be a "member" of the program but save that if you use but two nights during the course of the year.

  118. You have got to be kidding me. Give me that $3500 and I'll come up with something way cooler for that family to do and pocket $1500 for myself. Please!

  119. Who are these people? These totally unimaginative people who probably live in Manhattan and have a skewed idea of how many people live. Montreal, Quebec City, Eastern Europe, Utah, Northern California There are very few people in America who would consider spend 5K for a really stupid vacation like those suggested .

  120. Don't parents want privacy anymore? It appears that most of these trips up to the "moderate" level involve one room with 2 double or 2 queen beds. Maybe downscale to a lesser hotel but get 2 rooms, one for the kids and one for the parents?

    Aside from the issue of privacy for parents (and kids -- who wants to sleep in the same room with their parents?), there is also the issue of courtesy to one's neighboring guests. Anyone who's ever been stuck next to or below a room filled with 4 or 5 noisy people knows what I mean.

    Just as airlines are apparently now considering "kid" or "family" sections, maybe hotels need to consider special floors or wings for families crammed into one room.

  121. Believe me if the kids are in the next room and the door is closed, they will make a heck of a lot more noise than if they are in the same room with their parents. And guess what, at the prices that are charged at these places, normal Americans can't afford two rooms.

  122. This is not my definition of "budget." The only travel writer for the Times who speaks to anyone other than a rarefied elite is the Frugal Traveler. If the Times really wants to justify itself to a broad readership in order to stay afloat, it might want to consider what our lives are really like and what our budgets can truly accommodate. A budget trip involves motels, camping, hostels, maybe a modest B&B, home stays, special hotel deals, at most a vacation rental cottage a good two miles from the closest beach. We're spending as much as the so-called "budget" trip on a trip this summer; for my family, which is currently enjoying a modest moment of prosperity and financial stability, $4,000 will be a big unprecedented splurge.

  123. I just returned from a week in Orlando at the Quality Suites Royale Parc Suites. It would have been perfectly acceptable but for the nasty food poisoning from a late-night burger with lettuce. I would assume that the lettuce wasn't adequately washed or the preparer not using gloves - you get the idea.

    Clean rooms, close to all the parks - but stay away, your intestines will thank you.

  124. Year after year we had budget spring breaks. Great ones.
    Here are my suggestions, all cheap.
    -visit family you don't see often
    -do a history vacation, hint NYT, the east coast is full of history from Willamsburg to Philadelphia to Boston. When they were young, my kids loved this.
    -go somewhere you don't need several thousand dollars worth of airfare.
    - oh, my favorite, Visit NY City. You'd be surprised how many of us readers don't actually live there. Nice place to visit, can't afford to stay.

    Now, once you do all that, maybe once in a blue moon you can splurge and go someplace really cool. But gee, none of your choices fell into that category either. How about something truly interesting or unique instead of the usual back page of the travel section. We can all just get online if that's all we're interested in. I expect more from the Times.

  125. Appalling!!! As if the "budget" spring break trips were not expensive enough (not including airfare and meals is ridiculous!), but to even mention the break-the-bank trip reeks of Marie Antoinette.

    Most folks that I know (upper middle class), consider driving to FL and renting a condo going all out - and that's with many meals cooked at the condo. Who can possible afford more than that!

    Your travel editors need a reality check...

  126. Over $4000 for a 'budget' trip without airfare??? Seriously? That's a luxury trip for me, and yes, it's 10% of the median American income.

    Um, who is your audience?

    And what's more---the agency comes up with... Disney? Like, you couldn't have thought of this yourself? And furthermore, for the vast majority of American families, Disney is a very expensive, luxury trip you scrimp and save for for years.

    Some ideas for the truly budget conscious:

    This summer, our family will be taking a camping trip to a National Park. THis is a wonderful family trip we always love! If you live in a temperate climate, or don't mind chilly, a National Park or a State Park can be wonderful for Spring Break.

    Or drive to a city you haven't explored. I live close to Philly, and it is a wonderful, under-explored city that can be very reasonably budgeted. This can be said of many dozens of cities across America. Exploring a city can be fabulous for the whole family and doesn't have to be expensive if you choose a non-expensive city. Many cities have fabulous zoos, children's museums, theatres, and great restaurants.

    Or rent a cottage on the ocean or a lake, if you like nature and exclusion. Prices are often very reasonable off season at many places.

    I'm sure there are many other choices others can chime in.

  127. Yikes. Spending north of $4500 and ending up at some budget hotel--in Orlando?

    Time for a new travel agent.

  128. Never heard of anyone spending $70,000 for a one week trip to the Alpes (unless you're royalty), and I am from France! You can surely have an authentic time in the Alpes for probably less than 10% of this amount--helicopters, skiing, wine, and all.

    Moreover, this is a very indecent time to mention such "budget" trips the same day that billions have been cut from discretionary spending, a good chunk of which will no longer fund US's fine national parks--places where families of all economic classes can enjoy a real budget vacation!

  129. How about taking a vacation from being a jerk and using the $1 million to pay for 200 people to have a $5,000 trip vacation? (oh, no, that wouldn't work because then we'd have no incentives to work hard)

  130. I'd think twice before booking a trip with Susan Tanzman of Martin's Travel...her lack of geographic knowledge is disturbing, especially since that agency is on the West Coast (re: "City and Country in British Columbia")...she suggests a seaplane flight to "the island of Victoria." There's no such island--the city of Victoria is located on Vancouver Island. Also, Whistler is not a great destination for Mexican food.

  131. I hate to be accused of piling on, but the spring break in San Diego isn't even accurate. For starters, we have four giant pandas at the San Diego Zoo - not one.

    Seriously, I'm a travel writer and I live in San Diego. Feel free to ask for my help the next time you want to cover my hometown.

  132. Anybody who pays over $4000 + airfare for a budget trip within the continental U.S is simply getting ripped off. A few summers ago I spent maybe half that backpacking around Europe for 6 weeks. It's really not that hard, just takes the slightest willingness to have an adventure.

  133. Please do not support any 'dolphinarium' or theme park that uses dolphins and or whales for entertainment. most of these creatures were stolen from family pods while the remaining members were slaughtered. For more information please see Sea Shepherd COve Guardian site become educated about this barbaric industry. https://www.facebook.com/SeaShepherdCoveGuardiansOfficialPage?fref=ts

  134. They are quite tasty though.

  135. Under $4000 for the week of March 23-30 not including airfare? I just checked Expedia: You can do way better than that!

  136. The In-Your-Dreams Caribbean trip sounds great. I'd really like to do it, but unfortunately I can only spare $1.05 million on spring break this year. I guess I'll have to make do with a yacht that only has a staff of 25.

  137. Maybe the Times can do an article on really innovated and affordable vacations that their readers have taken. Just reading the comments gave me more ideas than this article.

  138. What about donating the money to the millions of your fellow citizens -- many children -- who go without adequate food/shelter/care and enjoying the week at home reading, biking, going to the library, cooking, spending time together?

  139. They cannot be serious.

  140. I just have to give my two cents. As a single person, I vacation alone. My choice. I went to Paris in March and with air fare and a stay at a small mom and pop hotel, I spent less than $1500 and that was for a week. Food was reasonable and I purchased a "museum pass".

    The hotel was highly rated on TripAdvisor. The food and sights were fantastic. This was the first week of March, and nothing was crowded. I did my best to not look like an "ugly American".

    I stayed at The Hotel Monet Carlo. http://www.hotelmontecarlo.fr/

    If I wanted to visit an amusement park, I live one hour away from Cedar Point.

  141. $1.06 million for a "spring break" in the Caribbean? This article was inadvertently transferred from The Onion, right? Or maybe this is part of an extremely subtle campaign to convince Times readers that the marginal income tax rate is way too low. Congratulations, very clever and effective!

  142. What is with the times? We live just north of Malibu and think that your ideas are a bit off. We will pack the kids and travel up coast to visit several missions. Santa Ynez, maybe San Luis Obispo, stop and check out a winery or two, let the kids roam on the beach at Avila Beach and then head home. Total cost around 600.00
    Bucks . Most of the time I cook our meals
    The Chief from Cali

  143. i am trying to figure out what you spent all that money on in san diego. Did you take the chargers football team out to dinner?

    "budget" to the nytimes is a year salary for a rich person in most countries, and more than I would spend on any trip.

    My family and I consider anything over 1000 dollars to be pushing it, and I'm gainfully employed.

    You people are out of touch

  144. Orlando. YUCK!

  145. Give me a break. Seriously. (Key West is out this year...replaced by a six pack and a sun lamp).

  146. We booked Mexico for a week. Less tha 4000 for air, hotel, food and entertainment at an all inclusive..... And this was a splurge-not a budget. This article states 4000 as budget, excluding food and air!!!! What are they paying for then?

  147. That is going to be one long seaplane trip trying to find the island of Victoria.

  148. If this "vacation" article is serious, it is one of the most unhelpful that I have ever read in the NYT. The budget trips were not budget and the rest reserved for a miniscule part of your readership. You should apologize to your readers and promise to redo with reasonable spring break vacations.

  149. As someone who has lived in Hawaii, I can tell you that you can have a quality vacation in the islands for A LOT less than the $8,875 quoted in this article. Coach airfare will cost you between $700 - 1000 round trip, and possibly less if you buy at the right time. Inter-island air will cost you another $120 - 300. Avoid the posh resorts and the expensive hotel restaurants, get out and find some local places and some cheaper cabin rentals. I've stayed in great places on Kauai for less than $120 a night. The article recommends a helicopter tour. That's not worth the expense in my opinion. Seeing the sights is a lot cheaper, a lot quieter and just as beautiful from the ground. Getting out in the water on a boat tour or sunset cruise probably is worth it, however. The big hotels will take as much money from you as they can get, but you can see Hawaii for a lot less money if you time it right, look for bargains and visit local restaurants rather than tourist traps.

  150. I'm sorry, these budget vacations are ridiculous. And I'm not one to go camping or take ultra-budget vacations. I've done much better for less.

    Orlando- SO much more to do than theme parks. I keep dragging my kids there and we haven't spent one day at Disney, much less wasted an entire week. True- when we go, we go to Busch Gardens or SeaWorld for one day, but only because I'm in the military and it's FREE (Big thanks to Anheuser-Busch). My trips there are usually $1000 for 4 tickets from MSP-MCO. 3.5 star hotel near the airport- about $40-$50/night. Rental car $25-$30/day. Take a day trip to Tampa/Bradenton/Sarasota. Go fishing off the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier- looking at about $25/person, tops. Go to Siesta Key or (even better) Anna Maria Island- free. Skip the theme park, but hit CityWalk (free) at Universal Studios. Gatorland, $22. Go to a waterpark, $20.

    Obviously a travel agent isn't going to recommend sites like Priceline or Hotwire, but that's where you can get rock-bottom prices on flights and hotels. They can save you hundreds.