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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Falling Temperatures Means Falling Prices 8.24.11

It seems like only yesterday we were talking about summer (finally) arriving. Now the kids are going back to school and we’re headed towards fall. Time goes by so fast when you get older. It’s not always fun to think about, but, as you know, I like to put a positive spin on everything, so to lift your spirits we’re going talk about all the money you can save by booking your travel for fall and winter now (or in the near future). Now that summer is coming to an end, prices on airfare and accommodations are becoming more reasonable and they are adding extra incentives for people to book their trips now, because tourism takes a sharp dip in the months following summer break.

This gives you a huge range of places you could visit now, but I’m going to start you off with my top picks for fall and tell you where I would go if I were you. Since there are fewer people traveling this time of year, your trip will not be full of crowded destinations packed with tourists and waits in the longest lines ever. The reason I travel in fall is the same reason I go to the movies Saturday morning instead of on a Friday night: It’s cheaper and I get my own personal space. Shops and attractions may have shorter hours, but without the throngs of people, it’s a lot easier to see and do everything you want in that time and instead of being cranky from heat and irritated by all the people pushing you everywhere you go, you can be calm, take time to enjoy what you’re doing and also have more time to relax when you’re done.

You think that the 10-6 opening hours of many things is a hindrance, but really it’s a blessing. If you’re forced to quit sightseeing and go eat dinner and then go back to chill in your lodging, you’ll notice that you get more sleep, feel more energetic and aren’t as crabby (if you’re that kind of traveler). The downtime can really be useful, even if you just curl up and read a book for an hour. I find that after a full day out I just want a little quiet and if that means that my husband and I don’t talk to each other and do our own thing for a little bit each evening, we are cool with that. We love to travel, but we also like to have our own “me” time. Often, we’ve come back to the hotel and we’ll each be on the Internet or our handheld games. We recharge and then make a game plan for later that evening or the next day. If our itinerary gave us more time than needed and we saw extra stuff during the day, we think of how we can fill that space or if we even want to.
Look at all these people!
Okay, so let’s get to destinations and why fall is a traveler’s dream:

Europe is a favorite of many. If I could afford to go there every year, I probably would. Unfortunately, we’re on a budget and we can’t always plan a trip to Spain, Portugal, Scotland or Malta (though they are all on the list). I will assume this is the case with most of my readers. Europe is a crazy money pit in the summer. I would love to go during that time, but I also want to be able to DO stuff when I get there. It’s this that makes me wonder why anyone would pay $800-1000 for a round-trip plane ticket when they could wait a few months and pay between $400 and $600. You’ve already saved $800 on a trip for two! Okay, so maybe that’s the only time they can travel, but for those of us who can go other times of the year, planning strategically is the answer to saving money. I’ve also seen hotel rates drop 25-50% after summer as well. On top of that, you can get free breakfast, airport transfers, activities, spa credits, upgrades and more if you play your cards right. Many accommodations start throwing any incentive they can to get more business and fill up their rooms. That’s okay. You take them and save more on your trip. Breakfast itself can save you $25+ per day for two travelers.

 Look at the size of this "room". It has a kitchen, room for 10 people and included all our meals.

South America kinda gets a bad rap sometimes. Instead of people thinking that it’s a great travel destination, a lot of people think it’s just full of drug smugglers, murderers and college backpackers. It’s not true and many places in South America are totally beautiful. The other upsides? People are very friendly, there are endless things to see and do and SA countries are super affordable. Even though you still have to pay for airfare, which might run upwards of $500 per traveler, there are luxury hotels at these places that you can stay at for a fraction of the price of similar hotels at home. You can really plan to spend $50-60 per night for a 3- or 4-star hotel in a lot of locations. Many include free WiFi, breakfast and other extras. Plan to stay at a resort? You may only have to shell out $80 per night! You can barely stay at a Best Western for that price. One good piece of advice is to stay at locally owned lodgings. They are more authentic and don’t cater specifically to Americans (and other travelers) who are afraid to try to something new. This usually means they are less expensive, too. Most offer all the same amenities and then some.

The Caribbean wants you to visit! Okay, so I know that Hurricane Irene just swept through Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, but this is one of those things that you may have to take a chance on. Being a September traveler, we always run the risk of getting stuck in a hurricane or monsoon rains. Fortunately, travel is an adventure and we take or chances. We have yet to encounter anything untoward weather-wise. If you’re afraid to travel at that time, wait until November when hurricane season is over. Prices will still be low (if you book early) and the beaches will be far less packed. Actually, the last time we went at that time, there was hardly anyone on the beach. What’s nice is that it’s still shorts and flip-flop weather, so you can plan to get in a little sun time. Make sure to remember your bathing suit and sunscreen!

Go cruising in the fall and winter and get free upgrades, onboard credits and deep discounts. Again, see the same warning about weather if you plan to do a Caribbean or Mexico cruise, but if not, you’ll find that prices can be half that during this time as they were in high-season. Again, now that cruise enthusiasm has dropped dramatically from summer, you are bound to see crazy enticing offers that are not only cheap, but also include a multitude of extras. Want something like a cabin upgrade? Ask for it! The worst thing they can say is no, but when they are trying so hard to get cabins filled, it’s more than likely they will give it to you. From free spa treatments to land excursions, nothing is really off limits at this point.

So, there you have it. My top 4 fall travel recommendations. Have you gone somewhere fantastic and frugal during the fall season that you want to tell us about? We’d love to hear it! Want more tips and ideas? Join me on Facebook or Twitter for great budget tips and current travel deals. 


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