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Best Fall Travel Deals
If you weren't able to sneak in a summer getaway this year, that doesn't mean it's too late to score an amazing vacation. With the warm weather lingering in much of the South, travelers still have plenty of time to escape to the beach. On the flip side, those more interested in apple picking and fall foliage have no shortage of incredible destinations for celebrating autumn.
The best part is that unlike the summer months, fall travel is easy on the wallet. "One thing I love about fall is that nearly everywhere in the world is a discount for travelers — from Europe to the Caribbean to favorite destinations in the USA," says travel expert Kendra Thornton.
A little digging reveals that Thornton is definitely onto something. According to a recent report in The Huffington Post, travelers can expect to shell out more cash when traveling during the bustling summer months. Most airlines, for example, raise ticket prices to the tune of 2 to 3 percent. Hotel and car rental fares are also known to peak in the summertime.
Looking to get away this fall? Enjoy even more savings with these seasonal travel tips.
The Best Fall Destinations
"One of my top picks for a fall getaway would be a visit to the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee for the beautiful fall foliage," says Thornton. According to Budget Travel, fall is an ideal time to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park at deeply discounted rates. (Think under $100 per night.) Plus, the cooler temperatures make outdoor fun like hiking and fishing all the more inviting.
If it's fun in the sun you're after, the Sunshine State is hard to beat. "Enjoy the less-crowded, yet still-warm, season in Kissimmee in Central Florida, where you have access to incredible attractions like hot air balloons and airboat rides; plus the popular theme parks nearby," says Thornton.
In general, summer is up there as one of the worst times to make a trip to Disney World. Disney travel experts advise bypassing both the heat and extreme crowds by visiting the parks anytime between mid-November and mid-December, with Thanksgiving week being the only exception. If you're planning a trip for next fall, the entire month of September is aces. Sure, it's still pretty hot, but the thin crowds and cheaper hotels make it worth it.
Theme parks aside, the autumn months also represent a great time to book a cruise. According to a recent ABC report, you can swing four-night cruises from Miami to the Bahamas for as little as $199 per person. And USA Today says that September is also one of the most budget-friendly times to take Alaskan and Caribbean cruises.
The Smart Way to Book Airfare
Airline tickets often make up a huge chunk of your travel budget. But according to Thornton, it doesn't have to.
"Tuesday is historically the least expensive day to book a flight, and Wednesday is the cheapest day of the week to fly," she says. Give the tactic a whirl, and you'll see she's right. Right now, a one-way flight from New York City to Los Angeles on a Friday night in mid-November is going for $244 on Jet Blue. The same flight on the Wednesday before is just $159.
"Secondly, always check alternate airports within a 90-mile radius, where fares may be lower," Thornton adds. Remember that $244 flight mentioned above. It'll only run you $159 if you fly into Long Beach instead of LAX.
"Lastly, if you’re booking flights online for a family or small group, only 'shop' prices for two people at a time so you don’t miss out on lower rates," says Thornton.
If international travel is your thing, some in-the-know Slickdealers recently shared a killer deal from Delta Airlines —just $670 for a roundtrip ticket to Tokyo. As Slickdealer stockspeed3 points out, that's a flight that costs upwards of $1300 normally. If you're looking to see the world this fall, setting a Deal Alert for flights will keep you up to date on more great deals like this one.
Cashing out airline miles earned with a rewards card is another way to significantly save on airfare. This is actually a pretty simple hack if you know how to leverage your credit card usage to really maximize your points.
How to Save on Lodging
When it comes to traveling, the hotel game has changed a lot over the last decade. According to a 2014 report in Inc., Airbnb had 10 million active users last year, boasting more than 800,000 listings across the globe. Not only are Airbnb rentals usually cheaper than traditional hotels, they also provide an at-home, local feel. But that certainly doesn't mean that hotels are dead.
"When it comes to booking traditional hotels, many travelers believe online travel sites like Priceline automatically have the lowest price, and this most definitely isn’t always the case," says Thornton. "In fact, you likely won’t see huge price differentials across the various hotel sales channels. Instead, people should be booking through the channel that will give them the most value for their money."
She adds that travel agents are making a comeback as more and more travelers turn to savvy agents who have preferred relationships with desirable hotels. "[Travel agents] can score them valuable savings, like free breakfast daily or a room upgrade," Thornton says.
Regardless of where you stay, fall is a great time to snag deals on lodging. A quick glance at our Travel Deals forum shows all-inclusive resorts in Santo Domingo currently offering 30-percent discounts. Disney-area vacation rentals are also marked down by more than half off. Combining these savings with discounted airfare can save serious dollars on your next autumn getaway.
Image courtesy of ThinkStock/Peshkova
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