“This is our life now,” my husband said, referring to the way we planned our travel around our children's school closure days. “We vacation with the rest of the country: Spring Break, Summer, and maybe President's Day.” And that's what drives the prices up and makes popular destinations crowded.
But his resignation to price surges and crowds is not entirely necessary. After struggling to find decent prices on lodging for Spring Break last year, my family had a realization.
A few years ago, we gamed the system by taking advantage of our school district's unusual observance of Malcolm X Day. We turned the mid-May 3-day weekend into a 5-day weekend and went to Mexico. It was glorious.
No one was on Spring Break; it wasn't Memorial Day weekend. It was Malcolm X weekend, and it was all ours.
Since then, I have looked ahead on our school calendar to determine which non-holidays would be opportunities for us to travel.
This year, our district returned to school later than what seemed like 90% of the country. The final days of our summer meant most other California families were firmly planted back in their school routines. We used the opportunity to take our big summer road trip that week, and the hotel rates we quoted were excellent. It wasn't exactly summer and it wasn't yet Labor Day Weekend.
Heather told me that she checked the rates for the LEGOLAND Hotel and they varied wildly based on demand. Families who stay on an unpopular day may pay $200 less per night.
Your school probably has a Google Calendar that you can add to your own calendar or smart phone. ActivityHero.com has combined the calendars for 18 districts in Alameda county and 15 in Contra Costa County.
Use the little + Google Calendar button to add one of the calendars to your own view.
I see that Berkeley Unified School District has minimum days all week from November 2-5, with no school on Friday the 6th. That looks like a good week to consider a short trip for Berkeleyans.
Oakland public schoolers, you're off January 29, but no one else is. I bet you'll get to Tahoe in no time.