Planning a cruise is difficult enough on its own, but factoring kids and summer break into the equation makes it much more restrictive. If you’re planning to travel in the US, your timing will dictate cost, availability and your overall experience.
Whether you’re cruising from Florida, Texas, California, New York or somewhere else, it can be wise to time your trip to avoid the summer break.
During summer, flights, hotels and, of course, cruises, all get more expensive as tourists flood in and contribute to the United States’ massive $1.1 trillion tourism figure.
In this guide, I’ll show you how to work out how long summer break is, when does summer break start and end, and what dates to avoid to miss it.
- When is summer break?
- How long is summer break?
- How many weeks is summer break?
- How Snow Days Affect School Years
- Summer Breaks By State
- How US Summer Break Compares to Other Countries
- The Bottom Line
When is Summer Break?
Summer break in the United States begins in late May or early June and lasts until late August or September. The exact dates vary depending on the region.
That’s a bit vague, but with so many states, there isn’t a clean, linear answer. June and July tend to be the safe months when students know they won’t have school. The first half of August is almost always free from school days as well.
Across the northeastern part of the US, most students go back to school just after Labor Day weekend. Labor Day is always the first Monday of September. If Labor Day falls on September 1st, Labor Day weekend takes place during the last weekend of August.
Some states begin their summer break in May, which results in the next school year beginning mid-August.
California starts school in mid-August, Florida starts school mid to late August, and the northeast (NY, Boston) begins around September 1st.
It fluctuates, especially with disruptions that altered some school start and end dates in 2020-2021. It’s always best to check dates on local government websites or local news sites in the area you plan on visiting prior to booking anything.
The National Center for Education Statistics has an online tool to help you find local websites for information.
How Long is Summer Break?
An average summer break across the United States lasts about 8 to 9 weeks. In most states and districts, June and July equal time off for students. Some districts give as many as 12 weeks of summer vacation.
So how many days of summer vacation are there? Well, that varies depending on snow days, natural disasters that cause a loss of attendance days, and the specific region of the US. It’s around 70 days in most areas.
The start date for summer break can change. There aren’t solid information resources for local snow days. Some school websites or public pages don’t update their information regularly.
Your best bet is to search local weather station articles in the area you plan on visiting to find updates. School districts usually hand out school year extension notices directly to parents.
There’s a broad 12-week range for US summer vacation dates because certain destinations, such as Florida, structure their summer break differently.
How Many Weeks is Summer Break?
In the United States, summer break lasts between 8 to 12 weeks, depending on the region. Summer vacation begins at different times in the United States. Different regions have fewer weeks of summer break than others, which affects summer vacation start dates.
Florida students have a longer summer vacation than California students due to start times and break durations throughout the year.
Most summer vacation periods in the US have 10-11 weeks, which gives plenty of time to organise trips. Some states in the US have different start times for vacation, so if you’re planning a trip from the UK before the big tourist season begins, you’ll want to plan accordingly to avoid the rush.
How Snow Days Affect School Years
If a school district grants up to three snow days, the school year end date remains the same. The fourth snow day and every subsequent snow day are taken out of summer break. Their school year extends, so summer starts later.
Some government sites may not update frequently enough to mirror current information. Be sure to check local news history for snow days before planning a trip to the northeastern or upper midwestern parts of the US.
Most states affected by snow days are Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Wyoming, New York, Michigan, Colorado, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont.
Summer Breaks By State
How Long is Summer Break in Florida?
Florida students get roughly 12 weeks off of school. Vacation begins towards the end of May, and the following school year begins at the end of August. Start and end dates can fluctuate by 1-2 weeks, though it still usually means a full 12 weeks off.
Pandemic-era end dates were around May 21st to May 27th, though previous years were closer towards the first 2 weeks of May. Be sure to check local government websites (and sort by county) to be safe before you start packing.
If you live in the UK and are planning a cruise from Florida, a great time to go could be the last week in August. In this week, UK schools will still be off, but local kids in Florida will be back at school. So you can enjoy cheaper prices and fewer crowds at places like Disney World.
That said, summer in Florida can be very hot and humid, so if this isn’t for you, you may wish to wait until half-term.
How Long is Summer Break in California?
California summer vacation begins at the end of May and ends towards the middle of August. Starting dates fluctuate, so summer break may begin in the first week of June and shorten vacation to 8-9 weeks from the typical 9-10 weeks.
Break times can differ by 1-2 weeks depending on whether you’re staying in northern California or southern California. In summer, wildfires can offset school days and change the average school year end date.
How Long is Summer Break in New York?
New York’s summer break begins at the end of June and ends during the second week of September. Depending on snow days and which school district you’re in, children get 8-10 weeks of summer break in total.
New York is known to have pretty dense heatwaves and may cancel school for days at a time. Northeastern school systems are notorious for forcing attendance in fairly extreme weather, making it really important to check for heatwave/snow day extensions to summer breaks.
You can use the NCES database to search for NY school districts and sites for more information. Local weather and news channels will likely provide better resources.
How US Summer Break Compares to Other Countries
Summer Break in Canada
Canadian summer breaks last two months. Students get all of July and August for vacation. Depending on winter weather and possible snow days, the dates and length of summer break can vary.
Canadian schools usually have two weeks off for Christmas break, and short breaks throughout the year. Canada has a similar vacation/break schedule to the United States, and nearly requires the same number of days in the school year.
[Source: Canada Mag].
Summer Break in the UK
The summer holidays in the UK last for 6 weeks, stretching from late July to early September. The start date changes slightly each year, though the first term of the following year nearly always begins in the first week of September.
Christmas break lasts for two weeks and corresponds with US Christmas break dates to plan vacation days without missing school.
Summer Break in Australia
In Australia, summer break lasts for roughly 6-7 weeks from mid-December to late January. Students have two weeks of vacation in between each of their four school terms and attend more school days than US children.
If you’re planning a trip to Australia, the region matters. South Australia has different school term holidays than Victoria or Queensland, for example. Summer break is normally the same across the country.
Which Country Has the Longest Summer Break?
Italy gives its students the longest summer break with 13 weeks of vacation, followed by Portugal and Greece with 12 weeks.
While Italy has an excellent education rate, its place in the worldwide education rating system suggests that longer vacations are indicative of learning loss. Most countries with longer summer breaks rank lower than countries with breaks around six weeks or shorter.
[Sources: The Sun]
Which Country Has the Shortest Summer Break?
South Korea has four weeks of summer vacation. South Korean schools prevent learning loss with a reduced vacation period, helping them rank as the 3rd smartest country for math and science. Their strict summer vacation is effective for maintaining high exam scores. However, it is linked to high stress in students.
The goal behind a short summer is to help students retain what they learned for longer. Exam scores cause stress, leading many to believe that those four weeks off aren’t enough time to combat it.
The Bottom Line
Vacation prices tend to be more expensive during the summer months in the United States. For better prices on cruises, hotels and activities, it can be worth planning your trip to the United States to coincide with term time in the state that you’re visiting.
Certain attractions like Disney World and LEGOLAND are cheaper during January and February but tend to jack their prices up sometime around May in anticipation of summer.
You don’t normally need to calculate exactly how many days in summer break there are that year – while it can vary, cruise lines aren’t checking snow days themselves to plan for higher prices.
If budget isn’t a concern and it’s more attractive to travel during summer break, expect to encounter busier crowds as well as higher prices.
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