Falling leaves mean falling prices, which makes autumn an ideal time to travel. Say goodbye to sweltering heat and maddening crowds and say hello to cooling temperatures and pleasant holidays. Traveling in the fall can be very rewarding with the right planning. Following a few, simple fall travel tips will allow you to experience a pleasant vacation at bargain prices.
The period between summer and winter is a great time to travel because kids are back in school and most Americans have already used up their vacation days visiting tropical destinations during the summertime. More than just facing smaller crowds, you’ll also be able to take advantage of some steep discounts by traveling in the autumn if you choose the right destination. Here are a few fall travel tips to help you save money in the off-season:
1. Go on a cruise
During the summer, repositioning cruise ships offer reduced rates and lengthier itineraries. A repositioning cruise ship is exactly what it sounds like, a ship that relocates at certain times of the year. One of those times is during the fall. Ships from Canada or New England head to the Caribbean, for instance, and sell tickets at discounted prices so these voyages can be made with passengers rather than empty vessels. If you’ve got the vacation time, you can visit long stretches of the Atlantic or Caribbean in one trip. As a bonus, you’ll have a more relaxing time at sea compared to traditional cruises because chances are high that you won’t hit a different port each day.
The big downside to repositioning cruises, of course, is that you begin in one city and end up in another. You’ve got to book a one-way flight back to your port of call or open jaw tickets. If you’ve got miles saved up from your rewards credit card, getting a cheap or free flight shouldn’t be a big problem. If you’re a frequent cruise ship traveler, you might even have a cruise ship credit line co-branded credit card. These types of credit cards are not recommended for general travelers because they typically don’t offer miles or points like travel rewards credit cards do. Cruise co-branded credit cards can only be redeemed for credits on your cruise purchases, which means there’s not much flexibility. With a travel rewards credit card, though, it might be time to use the miles you’ve accumulated to enjoy a long, cool break along the ocean.
If you’re looking to take a repositioning cruise, start your search at cold weather destinations like Alaska or Boston. These cruise ships will have to reposition themselves for warmer weather destinations like Mexico or the Caribbean. Also, make sure to check out your credit card’s portal to see what types of deals of offers are available there.
2. Travel to your favorite European city
Europe’s big capitals — London, Paris, Rome — are much more affordable in the fall than the summer. It’s no surprise that these European capitals, among the world’s most popular tourist destinations, jack up prices when business is high in the summertime. As fall approaches, though, rates will drop to lure tourists like yourself. Sure, you’ll have to throw on a cardigan or light jacket to deal with the cooler temperatures, but that’s a small price to pay for cheaper hotel rates and fewer tourists. Generally, travel to Europe from October to April will mean cheaper airfare and hotel rooms in addition to less time spent in lines to see famous attractions.
Flying to Europe from the U.S. might still be expensive in the fall, but there will be deals that you can snag to make your flight cheaper. Be sure to set up airfare alerts and keep a close eye on flight prices. In addition to airfare deals, if you’re jumping around from city to city during your European odyssey, flying within Europe will be cheaper too. You can always save on paying for your airfare by redeeming points for miles or using miles you’ve accumulated on your travel rewards credit card. You don’t want these rewards to go to waste. Even if you can’t pay for your flight with points or miles, oftentimes travel rewards credit cards have sign-up bonuses. If you pay, say, $1,000 for a flight you might earn enough points or miles to redeem the next time you travel, saving you money in the future. Just be sure to pay off the amount you charged before you end up paying interest.
3. Book a Caribbean adventure
If you’ve always wanted to travel to the Caribbean, but never had the money for it, now is your chance. With autumn upon us, expect many Caribbean islands to offer attractive deals. Fall is in between the traditional vacation time for families and winter, which is when people want to get away from the cold, so it’s the perfect time to hit one of the Caribbean islands.
Some islands offer deals on lodging, restaurants, and attractions. You can get discounts on hotels or resorts, free upgrades or even free nights. The Miami Herald has a good rundown of some of the deals you could take advantage of this fall. The catch: early fall is hurricane season. But don’t let that dissuade you because chances are your vacation will end up going smoothly. You could get hit by a hurricane in Louisiana or Florida just as much as you would in the Caribbean.
That said, trip insurance is particularly pertinent if you’re going to jet off on an island adventure in the Caribbean this fall. Booking your trip with your credit card might come in handy at this time because your plastic might provide you with travel insurance. Some credit cards offer emergency services or travel accident coverage. Some credit cards cover lost or stolen baggage. You can even get trip delay reimbursement with certain credit cards. As always, don’t just assume your card provides you with travel insurance. You will want to read your terms of agreement carefully and talk to a representative from the issuer directly if you have any questions.
4. Take a road trip around New England
New England comes alive in the autumn when leaves on the oak, elm, and maple trees change color. For a relaxing road trip, consider driving through any of the New England states and enjoy the yellow, red, and orange foliage.
To save money on a road trip like this, you’ll want to carefully plan where to go. Fall foliage doesn’t peak at the same time in every state or region. Once you’ve chosen a destination, start planning your trip and looking for discounts. Remember, you don’t always have to stay in big cities, particularly on a trip like this. Spending time in a quaint town might be more relaxing and cheaper than staying in a big city. Look for bed and breakfast inns instead of hotels. You might even consider booking a fall foliage vacation package, which might offer deals on lodging, car rental, and meals.
If you’re planning a road trip, be sure to look into the benefits that come with booking a trip on a credit card. Many credit cards might have car rental insurance if you rent a car with your plastic instead of buying a vendor’s plan. Knowing that, you can avoid having to pay for car insurance and use that money elsewhere on your trip.
With these fall travel tips, hopefully you’ll be able to enjoy a cool, crisp autumn without hurting your bank account.