10 Unexpected Spring Break Destinations on the Rise

Panama City, Panama

Hip beach escapes like Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Cancun, Mexico have long been considered the go-to Spring Break destinations for college students ready to let out steam. But a recent survey conducted by Orbitz Insider Index revealed that both the travel demographic and their desires are evolving. The study examined Spring Break trends and destinations that have experienced growth over the past five years based on Orbitz.com hotel bookings.

Despite the mosh-like scenes MTV network displays during Spring Break, 53 percent of today’s travelers are looking for a laid back experience that gives them a chance to relax and unwind. 61 percent of those surveyed said they are traveling with a spouse, family or children—undoubtedly a large part of the reason party destinations aren’t as sought after.

“The need across America to get off the fast track is driving travelers to seek a new Spring Break experience,” Jeanenne Tornatore, senior editor of Orbitz.com, told Travel and Tour World. “While crowd favorites like Cancun and Orlando will keep their status as top spring break destinations, we are seeing people take a more thoughtful approach to their spring break options, expanding their trips to locations like Mesa, Ariz., Houston, Texas and even international destinations like Dublin and Panama City.”

These 10 destinations have seen a minimum of 50 percent increase in hotel bookings between March 1 – April 15 over the last five years, according to Orbitz.com data:

1. Panama City, Panama
2. Riviera Maya, Mexico
3. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
4. Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
5. Dublin, Ireland
6. Paris, France
7. Toronto, Canada
8. Mesa, Arizona
9. Carlsbad, California
10. Houston, Texas

Thirty percent of travelers listed either cheaper airfare or cheaper gas as key influencers of their Spring Break travel plans in 2016. Mexico destinations are a great example of this; short flights and affordable airfare and hotels make both high-energy and relaxing Mexico vacations possible.

A strong U.S. dollar is a major factor in the push toward international travel. Panama City, Paris and Dublin have all seen an influx of travelers in recent years, due to favorable exchange rates across the board.

Classic Hot Spots

Of course, the traditional spring break destinations are still seeing a tourist boom every March and April. This year, Florida accounts for 40 percent of the top Spring Break destinations, with Fort Myers and Tampa joining Orlando and Miami in the top ten rankings. (Orlando is No. 1, and saw a 21 percent increase in hotel bookings year over year.) Cancun, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles round out the top five cities, respectively.

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