Taking a break without breaking the bank

Spring break in the Mercer Island School District officially started four days ago, as soon as students stepped out of their classroom doors, if not a little sooner. Often, the break is a chance for families to get away, but this year traveling is taking a back seat to spring’s other recurring theme: the recession. Despite good deals to be had, families are choosing to put that money toward other expenses, or simply save it — just in case.

Erica Hauck, the owner of Admiral Travel, said her business has seen a decline in requests for spring trips compared to years past, mostly due to the economy.

“I would say for me, in my business, the demand is lower than in previous years,” said Hauck. “A lot of people are asking themselves if they should spend their disposable money in this economy. It’s a wait and see game.”

Usually Hawaii is a hot destination this time of year, according to Hauck, but those requests are down considerably. She estimates that the company has had one-third fewer trip requests this year, compared to other years. Admiral Travel specializes in leisure vacations from arranging European getaways to private tours. Hauck said for those who are traveling, destinations are closer to home, such as the Grand Canyon or Disneyland.

One Island family spending their vacation on the West Coast is the Robertsons. Betsy Robertson said the family will be headed south for a vacation in Arizona to catch some “sun, relaxation and a little exploration” in Phoenix, Sedona and at the Grand Canyon.

“The economy hasn’t really affected the plans, as we made them a while ago, but it’s nice to have not planned a super expensive vacation,” said Robertson.

For others, saving money by staying home is a lucky byproduct. The Suhm family will be staying close to home because Susan Swartz is a tax accountant and spring is her busiest time of the year, explained her husband, Toby Suhm. Even without a family venture, Suhm said his daughters will be staying busy while school is out. Alyssa, a sophomore at Mercer Island High School, will be spending time with her equine riding team and her horse, while Adrienne, a sixth-grader at Islander Middle School, visits her grandmother.

“Spring break will be a chance for me to catch up on projects around the house and get a little bike riding in if the weather cooperates,” said Toby Suhm.

For those staying in the Pacific Northwest, maybe the traditionally gray spring days will take a break along with everyone else.

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