The Fareologists at Live Search Farecast issued the 2009 Spring Break Forecast, which uncovers a much-needed break in airfare and hotel rates. Fares for spring break travel -- Feb. 28 through April 5 -- are down more than 15 percent from 2008, reaching roughly the same price points as spring break travel in 2007. Live Search Farecast, which is known for telling travelers when to buy based on airfare predictions, is currently recommending "Buy Now" 29 percent more often than at this time last year for spring break flight searches. Similarly, premium hotel rates in U.S. spring break destinations have decreased 15 percent since last year. Savvy travelers can maximize their budgets and save more than 20 percent on the total trip cost by choosing the right travel dates, destinations and hotels.

"With all the turbulence in the financial markets, travel suppliers need to woo back customers, and they're doing it with lower airfare and lower hotel room rates," said Joel Grus, Fareologist from Live Search Farecast. "This spring will be the least expensive we've seen in years, and even those on a tight budget can save about $200 per ticket this year."

Nationally, the average airfare for the most popular spring break itinerary -- Saturday departure, Sunday return -- is $308, down $60 from last year. Grus offers the following tips for spring break travelers looking to save even more:

-- Travel Tuesday through Tuesday. As airfare prices vary according to the day of the week, travelers who are flexible with day of departure and return will be rewarded with big savings. This year, for travelers who do not need to be back at work or school, a seven-night Tuesday to Tuesday or Wednesday to Wednesday trip saves on average 22 percent, or about $66, over what they would pay if they traveled on a weekend.

-- Families save more by avoiding college breaks. In addition, families and those who remain flexible and travel during the first two weeks of March or the first week of April could save as much as $30 to $80 per ticket by avoiding the popular college spring breaks, which fall the weeks of March 8 through 22. Choosing instead to fly during the off-peak weeks could save more than $200 on airfare for a family of four.

-- Location, location, location. Destination also plays a role in airfare pricing. For the budget-conscious traveler, spring break airfare to hot spots in Mexico such as Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas will on average cost $425 per ticket. Spring breakers should consider traveling to less expensive destinations such as San Juan, Puerto Rico, or Cancun, Mexico, where fares are 18 percent lower than last year and can be had at about $300 per ticket. Better yet, flying domestically to Las Vegas, or to Florida destinations such as Fort Lauderdale, Miami or Orlando, will cost on average $250 per ticket.

"In 2008, spring break travelers didn't have many options for lowering their airfare, but this time around, the landscape is much different and in favor of the traveler," Grus said. "Traveling to West Palm Beach on a Tuesday during the first week of March is a great combination for yielding big savings."

Hotels Prices Align With Cheap Airfare

The Fareologists also dug into hotel data and uncovered that, like airlines, hotel suppliers have responded to weakened demand by lowering prices. On average, premium hotel rates in popular U.S. spring break destinations are down 15 percent since 2008, with the average hotel rate at $202 per night. Hotels in most leisure destinations offer a break in rates, and, as with airfare, travelers can gain even larger savings by choosing the right destination.

"Premium hotels in key vacation spots like Florida, Hawaii and Mexico have great rates that keep overall trip cost under what it was last year," Grus said. "One itinerary, for example, is a seven-day trip for two to Hawaii in March for spring break. Airfare has decreased $41 since last year and hotels are down $130, making the total trip cost $171 cheaper than last year."

Other destinations offering tremendous hotel deals include Miami, where hotel rates are down 29 percent at $228 per night on average, and San Juan, Puerto Rico, where hotel rates are down 23 percent at $224 per night on average.

Related Link: Live Search Farecast