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Group-Friendly Spring Break Ideas

You don’t have to be a student to go on spring break.

The tradition of taking a week off to travel in March or April may have started in the academic world, but it is by no means restricted to high school and college students. Spring is one of the best times of year to travel, and destinations around the world offer appealing experiences for spring breakers of all ages and interests.

We think that spring break is a great idea for groups. Establishing a tradition of an exciting trip to an exotic destination each spring is a good way to build loyalty and affinity among your travelers. And since a chill often lingers in the air during early spring days, a trip to a warmer climate during that time of year will be a welcome escape for anyone looking to shake off the winter blues.

There are plenty of enjoyable spring break destinations around the world, each with its own characteristics that will appeal to certain types of travelers. To help inspire your trips for this year and next, we’ve chosen our favorite youth-and-student, family, baby boomer and traditional group spring-break destinations.

Try a group spring break to one of these places, and you’ll find your travelers eager to go along.


Costa Rica

Youth and Student Groups

With their young minds largely unburdened and open to the wonder of travel, youth and students are ripe for international experiences, and spring break makes a perfect time to take them on their first trips abroad. For these early forays into the great world beyond our borders, we can think of no better destination than Costa Rica.

Student spring-break trips are often restricted by both time and budget, and traveling to this region of the world helps groups make the most of both. Because it is close to the United States, travelers can often reach the Costa Rican capital of San Jose in as little as a half-day of air travel. Because the buying power of the dollar is so strong throughout Central America, youth and student groups can have great experiences at a lower cost than they might encounter in the Caribbean.

While there are many worthy destinations in the region, Costa Rica has a number of special characteristics that make it especially attractive for youth and student groups. The country enjoys a healthy political and economic stability relative to its neighboring nations, making it exceedingly safe for young travelers, and the tourism infrastructure is very well developed. Though Spanish is the official language, English is widely spoken by locals, especially tourism and hospitality workers.

Sandwiched between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, Costa Rica has a number of famous beaches, in addition to volcanoes and rain forests that offer some of the best eco-tours in the world. Young travelers, who are often game to try heart-pounding activities, will find a higher concentration of adventure opportunities in this small, easily navigable country than anywhere else on the continent.

Groups traveling in Costa Rica should be sure to take tours in one of several rain-forest areas that have been outfitted for visitors. Guests can walk on wooden bridges through the treetops, take aerial tram rides through the canopies and venture down some of the world’s longest and fastest zip lines through the wild.


Western Caribbean Cruise

Family Groups

The cruise industry became the darling of tourism in the late 20th century and has continued to grow in popularity throughout the 2000s. Much of that popularity has to do with the strength of its product in the Western Caribbean.

Cruising offers value, convenience and entertainment options unmatched by land tours, and these very factors make a cruise the ideal spring break experience for a multigenerational family group. Cruise ships offer a range of accommodations, from modest and affordable to lavish and expensive, all on one vessel. This allows families of different ages and means to go on the same trip yet choose the individual cabin level that is most appropriate for their tastes and budget.

The convenience of cruising allows family members to focus on spending time together and worry less about travel logistics. Because there are no hotels to change, parents and grandparents don’t have to worry about packing and unpacking children’s luggage. And group dining offered aboard the ships affords plenty of opportunities for enjoying family meals, usually at no additional charge.

Major cruise lines offer a wealth of shore excursions and onboard entertainment during their trips, which is perfectly suited for the diverse tastes and activity levels represented in multigenerational groups. The adventure-inclined can choose high-adrenaline excursions while other family members opt for more leisurely outings, with the whole family group reuniting back onboard the ship to recount the day’s activities. And many ships include special areas that appeal to specific age groups, including children’s play areas, teen zones, nightclubs for young adults and more traditional lounge-style evening entertainment.

Most Western Caribbean cruises originate from ports in Florida or on the Gulf Coast, and then proceed to ports of call in Jamaica, Mexico and several smaller islands. Many travelers take excursions to Dunn’s River Falls, dubbed the “Niagara of Jamaica,” when cruises stop in Ocho Rios. The Mexican ports, such as Cozumel and Costa Maya, offer the opportunity to explore well-preserved Mayan ruins or to snorkel with sea turtles.


The Bahamas

Baby Boomer Groups

Often finished raising their families but still working full-time, many baby boomers enjoy traveling in groups with friends and find their vacations restricted more by time than by money. For boomer groups wanting to have a great trip quickly during March and April, we suggest a spring break trip to the islands of the Bahamas.

Reaching the Bahamas is quick and convenient, as Nassau is only 184 miles from Miami. Direct flights from Miami and many other U.S. hubs mean that groups can leave home in the morning and often be immersed in the warmth of their vacation destination by lunchtime.

Travelers to the Bahamas consistently enjoy some of the best beaches in the Caribbean in a well-developed country that offers more security and high-end amenities than some other Caribbean destinations. The 30 inhabited islands are home to numerous upscale resorts, including the famous Atlantis. Later this spring, the much-heralded Baha Mar resort complex will open on the Bahamian Riviera. Built at a cost of $3.5 billion, the resort will sport an extensive list of amenities and 2,900 hotel rooms in several different accommodation categories.

If your travelers grow bored of beach lounging, you can arrange for several extraordinary wildlife encounters in the Bahamas. Visitors can swim with trained dolphins in Freeport on Grand Bahama Island or take a dip with adorable aquatic pigs at Exuma Cays.

Groups shouldn’t leave the Bahamas without experiencing some of the local culture. The Educulture Junkanoo Museum in Nassau gives visitors an inside look at the lively costumes and music of the Junkanoo carnival tradition. And the national tourist office can help arrange people-to-people experiences for groups to enjoy a meal and conversations with locals throughout the country.


The Mediterranean

Traditional Groups

Traditional group travelers — retirees with plenty of free time and money to spend on great trips — have the most freedom and flexibility when it comes to spring travel. That’s why we suggest they take advantage of their situations and explore the dream destinations of the Mediterranean.

Spring is an ideal time to explore the highlights of the Mediterranean for a number of reasons. Many of the countries in the region enjoy mild, warm weather in March and April but heat up substantially after that. And groups that visit during the spring shoulder season can enjoy significant cost savings while avoiding the crush of other visitors that summer brings to the most popular tourist sites.

Reaching this area of the world is no small feat — it requires trans-Atlantic flights that can add more than $1,000 in expense to a trip, as well as at least a day of travel time — and more if you account for recovering from jet lag. These factors make the Mediterranean a difficult destination for some other demographics. But traditional tour groups that make the trip will be rewarded with once-in-a-lifetime experiences in some of the most legendary destinations on earth.

There are 21 countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, giving visitors to the region a wonderfully diverse menu of experiences. Greece and Italy attract travelers who want to see the wonders of the classical world, as well as those who want to try the legendary food and wine produced in the area. Cruises around both countries highlight stunning islands and coastal scenery.

Groups with religious interest will find a wealth of significant sites throughout Israel, Egypt, Palestine, Cyprus and Turkey, as well as nearby Jordan. While it’s possible to spend a week or more in any one of these destinations, many tour operators package Holy Land trips that include the biblical sites and other highlights of multiple countries in a single itinerary.

More adventurous groups or those that have already visited other Mediterranean countries can find exotic culture in places such as Malta, Morocco, Monaco and Montenegro.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.