Winter getting you down? Maybe it's time to start planning your escape. Make a spring vacation your reward for long months of cold, bleak weather. Between warmer temperatures, blossoming flowers and lower prices there's a lot to love about traveling in this season. Here are our suggestions for five affordable trips you need to take this spring.
Mexico's always a good bet for an affordable vacation. From Playa del Carmen to Puerto Vallarta there are plenty of all-inclusive and boutique hotels to suit the fly and flop traveller. But how about heading inland and doing something different? San Miguel de Allende, with its delightful church and countless galleries, will suit artsy types. An hour away you'll find the kaleidoscopic colors of Guanajuato — seek out the narrow alleyway known as Callejon del Beso which translates as Alley of the Kiss. Train buffs will love riding the Copper Canyon Railroad from Chihuahua to Los Mochis for its beautiful mountain scenery and dramatic canyons. Even wine buffs are catered for — Mexico's top wine-growing region is the Guadalupe Valley in Baja California.
Much of Central America makes sense for an affordable spring vacation, but the tiny nation of El Salvador is often overlooked by travelers fixated on more established destinations such as Guatemala and Costa Rica. Sleepy Suchitoto is a delightful base, with a white cathedral dominating the main square. Nearby you'll find the Ruta de Flores, a scenic drive through coffee country via pretty villages like Apaneca and Ataco. Beach bums will be drawn by the country's surfing culture. The best time to experience the swell is in March and April, when temperatures are high but the waves are starting to build.
Niagara Falls, Canada
Another affordable trip can be had by making the short hop across the border to Niagara Falls. Colorful displays of daffodils and tulips mark the end of the long cold winter rivaled only by the aromatic blooms of the Centennial Lilac Garden. Leave it until late May to early June and you can enjoy the Springlicious Festival, a massive outdoor music festival. Niagara on the Lake comes alive with the beginning of Shaw season. An eclectic mix of comedies and dramas cement its position as a cultural hub at this time of year. Of course, the Falls themselves are the big draw. It costs nothing to take a look from the riverbank, but it's well worth devoting a bit of the budget to a boat trip on the Maid of the Mist or book a ticket for the impressive Journey behind the Falls.
Flights are cheap and plentiful to the Bahamas, but eschew the luxury all-inclusives and your accommodation doesn't have to be much different. The best options for an affordable spring vacation come in the form of apartments in Freeport or Nassau which can work out at a quarter of the price. But the sun's the same and the welcome's as warm. Thanks to the diverse community, the food's varied — make sure you try conch in some form before you head home. At the end of April the attention's rightly focused on Grand Bahama for the kick off concerts of the Junkanoo carnival, which moves to Nassau a week later. And if you're going to splash out on one excursion, make it a trip to Exuma to swim with the pigs at Big Major Cay. They're super cute and always happy to share a snack.
With Trans-Atlantic flights from as little as $400 and basic hotels from under $40 a night, a spring vacation on the cheap is doable in the British capital. London has a wealth of attractions that won't cost you a penny. You can see the Changing of the Guard, browse the antiques of Portobello Market and stroll in London's famous Royal Parks for nothing. Art lovers can see the collections in the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery and Tate Modern for free. If museums are more your thing, the British Museum, Science Museum and Natural History Museum also won't require you to reach for your wallet. Cheap eats are easy to come by too, particularly if you steer clear of tourist hotspots like Leicester Square and head to the likes of Lambeth and Shoreditch instead.