Along with sweaters and pumpkin-spice lattes, fall brings travel deals
galore. In select regions, a short-lived harmony of
still-somewhat-summery weather and slashed shoulder-season prices
creates the perfect conditions for the frugal traveler. This year, Smarter Travel
identified five especially fabulous destinations where off-season
pricing is ripe for the pickin'.
of the most cost-prohibitive parts of a Caribbean vacation is often the
flight, but, generally, the
more flights available to an island, the
more competitive the fares to get there. Barbados' extensive service via
most major U.S. carriers—including JetBlue, American, Delta, and US
Airways—makes it a budget-friendly pick for beach-seeking travelers,
especially during fall.
When peak-season fares for travel in January were tested, the lowest
available fare came to $500 round-trip. Fares for about $100 less were
readily available for late October and early November departures. Add to that the many seasonal price drops and deals that spring forth
in Barbados come fall and you have even more reasons to visit. The
Barbados Tourism Authority is offering a wide-ranging "free spending money" deal
for those who visit the island before December 21: Receive up to $200
per person when you book with participating hotels, car-rental
providers, and attractions. On top of that, lower seasonal prices
provide even more savings: For example, at this participating Cassia Heights Island Villa, nightly rates are $150 cheaper in fall compared to winter.
favorite summer-vacation spot for the first family, this cosmopolitan
resort island in the Atlantic peaks in July and August. Needless to say,
when flashing motorcades and crowds of Manhattanites and Bostonians
invade the beachy fishing community, prices for rentals and hotel
accommodations become quite prohibitive. But in September and October,
when the weather is a bit brisk but still perfect for sipping a martini
on an oceanfront patio, those of us who don't use "summer" as a verb can
find some super-cheap travel deals. Compare fall rates to summer rates at countless local hotels to see
what we mean. Lower fall seasonal prices are on offer at nearly every
Vineyard property, it seems: Third nights are free at Winnetu Oceanside Resort; starting nightly rates at Hob Knob drop from $425 in summer to $250 in fall; and second nights are half off at Ashley Inn in September.
Even flights can be quite affordable during this time of year. We
spotted round-trip airfare from New York to Martha's Vineyard starting
at $151, whereas August airfare came in at around $367 round-trip.
hard to overstate the price difference between high- and low-season
flights to Europe. For
example, we found flights to Berlin from New York
in October for less than $700 round-trip on Air Berlin—a much more
palatable price than the well-over-$1,000 fares we saw this summer. But
airfare certainly isn't the only aspect of Europe travel that becomes
less expensive as temperatures drop. Many river-cruise companies, which
offer a budget-friendly way for Americans to avoid unfavorable exchange
rates year-round, roll out steeply discounted fares in autumn.
Check out the reduced fares and two-for-one airfare discounts on week-long Rhine cruises
this fall. Rates for a veranda cabin on a Rhine getaway with Viking
River Cruises are slashed from $7,599 to $3,856 per person in October.
Nearly everything, from meals to excursions to onboard activities, is
included in the price.
Chicago's full fall calendar pairs well with the seasonal price drops it experiences this time of year. Chicago Gourmet—a
huge food and wine event in Millennium Park—takes place at the end of
September. Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks seasons kick off. And, at the
end of fall, the popular Magnificent Mile Lights Festival heralds the start of the holiday season. Fortunately, deals aren't hard to find: Hotels all over the city are
offering special fall rates and packages, plus seasonal price drops. At
the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, take advantage of a third-night-free offer, or receive a $50 hotel credit for every day you stay at the Waldorf Astoria
is one of the best off-peak destinations for fall because, despite what
the abundance of travel
deals might lead you to believe, the weather is
pretty amazing. A top pick for autumn travel is laid-back, lush Kauai,
which sees fewer visitors than some of the more popular Hawaiian
In lieu of hundreds of high-rise hotels, Kauai offers plenty of
charming guest cottages and cute B&Bs. The period from the end of
summer to just before the holidays is an excellent time to find deals
and lower seasonal rates for Kauai's quirky rentals and hideaways. There are plenty with lower nightly rates for the fall season, including this adorable private cottage
listed on Airbnb, at which rates drop to as low as $65 per night in
September (compared to $95 per night in winter and spring), and this fabulous rental,
at which rates dip to $175 in fall (from $215 in summer). Additionally,
the Hawaii Tourism Authority website features an extensive list of seasonal accommodation specials for fall stays on the island, including room discounts, free nights, and price breaks on tours and activities.