Whether you’re enjoying the college life or you’re married with kids, spring break is likely something you look forward to all year long. A whole week off, no homework to deal with, and a sunny beach? Yes, please! But unless you’re crashing with friends or sleeping in a tent, the expenses can get out of control – especially if you’re flying. So, how can a wannabe traveler on a budget make that warm weather trip happen?

Deals! Since spring break is prime time for both college students and families to travel, hotels and airlines often offer some pretty sweet sales. You just have to know where to find them!  Here are our best tips for finding savings on spring break travel, so you can worry more about which swimsuit to pack and less about finding a place to sleep:

When to fly

It used to be that if you booked at least a year in advance, hotels and airlines would reward you with special pricing. No more! Bargain travel sites like Kayak and Expedia have flipped the whole industry on its head.

Science

According to the popular travel app Hopper, you should fly mid-week to get the best deals. Tuesday is the cheapest day to depart and Friday the most expensive (in fact, leaving on a Friday will cost you almost 20% more). When it comes to flying home, they say avoid traveling on Sunday and shoot for Friday instead.

Hopper also recommends avoiding peak spring break dates if you can, as prices are often inflated during that time – but if you have to work around a school schedule, you may not be able to do much to avoid it.

Book a last-minute package

Want to save big bucks on your vacation? Booking at the last minute often offers substantial savings, but it’s risky. Wait too long, and you may not be able to find any availability. If you’d like to give it a try, many of the popular travel sites offer amazing 11th-hour specials. Travelzoo, for example, has an entire section dedicated exclusively to last-minute deals – and many of them include flights and hotel.

Don’t want to take the risk? Two to five months out is generally considered the best time to book flights, while you should wait until 30 days prior to secure your hotel.

Check going rates

Already booked your hotel? That doesn’t mean you can’t still get a great deal! If you have a refundable reservation, keep checking prices: you can rebook at a lower rate right up until the day of your check-in.

For example, if you book a room at $150 a night, but you later notice that the price has dropped to $99 a night, you can rebook. Some hotels will just refund you the difference, while some will make you cancel the reservation and rebook – either way, it’s worth it!Another tip? Check out Groupon’s “top secret” hotel deals. You can reserve a room on the site for rock-bottom prices, with just one small catch: You don’t know what hotel you’ll be staying in until after you’ve booked. If you’re not picky about where you stay, a surprise hotel might be a fun adventure!

Keep your spending in check

Of course, hotel and flight deals aren’t the only way to save on vacation: think about what you can do once you arrive, as well. Some of our favorite tips include:

  • Set a budget for souvenirs and stick to it. We know those kitschy little shops can be tempting, but trust us – you don’t need that $30 t-shirt.
  • Get a hotel room with a fridge and microwave. Vacation meals can be crazy expensive, so why not save your money for something a little more fun? Cooking just one meal a day in your room can make a significant difference.
  • Find a hotel that offers complimentary breakfast and snacks. What’s better than saving money on one meal? Saving money on two! Imagine all the cash you’d save if you could eat free breakfast at the hotel and then make your own lunch in the room!

Bottom line?

You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to have a great spring break. With a little time and effort, and a lot of research, you can book the vacation you want for less.