Seven Shoulder-Season Destinations That Won’t Break the Bank
Higher airfares, new fees, pain at the pump – who can afford to travel anymore? You, actually. Sometimes it’s less about where you go than when you go, and autumn is a prime time to get away for a lot less than what you’d pay during the peak summer months. Hotels are looking to fill rooms in the slow months between now and Thanksgiving, so take advantage of the lull and book yourself on a weekend (or longer) getaway to one of these fabulous fall destinations that won’t break the bank.
Beaver Creek, CO
The Rocky Mountains really peak – in both tourists and price – come the first snowfall, so come early and enjoy all the autumn activities for outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking, horseback riding, fishing and golf will keep you busy during the day, and top-notch restaurants and luxurious hotels will keep you rejuvenated and ready for the next day’s adventures. Sample savings: the Beaver Creek Lodge, an all-suite boutique property situated in the heart of the town has rates from $169 per night this fall, compared with over $400 per night in the winter months.
Bonus: Use promo code COSUMMER75 before September 19 and get $75 off your four-night vacation.
Many people mistake Bermuda as part of the Caribbean, but it’s actually an island in the Atlantic Ocean with a similar latitude to South Carolina. So unlike the Caribbean, Bermuda’s tourist season and warm weather doesn’t last quite as long, which driving up prices for months when it’s in its prime. Fall is a great time to visit with the summer crowds gone and the still-warm temperatures that make lounging on the pink-sand beaches possible. 9 Beaches Resort has cabanas on stilts overlooking the water that in fall go for about $100 less per night than in the summer months.
If the mere thought of a trip to Europe makes you feel poor, you’re not alone. Enter Croatia – well-known to jet-setting, cost-conscious Europeans but not yet on the Euro. September brings fewer crowds, spectacular weather and shoulder-season prices; if you can wait till October when it starts to turn a bit chillier you’ll save even more. The stunning city of Dubrovnik – a UNESCO World Heritage city – is itself a destination, but also serves as a great jumping off point to some of the nearby islands. A word of warning: the further in to the off-season you get, the more sporadic the ferry schedule.
The best cruise deals are found by people who live in or within driving distance of a port city – eliminating the need for pricey airfare. Cruises are also an excellent way to control costs and stay in a budget, as they include your accommodations, meals, transportation between ports and nightly entertainment. Case in point: Norwegian Cruise Line offers a three-night Bahamas cruise from $189 per person this fall – that’s about $63 per night. Just be sure you’re aware of any fuel surcharges and that you don’t overindulge on the pricey poolside cocktails.
Bonus: Royal Caribbean offers $50 – $150 in onboard credits on certain sailings.
Daufuskie Island, GA
This barrier island in South Carolina is just a quick ferry ride from nearby Hilton Head or Savannah, but seems a long way from the bustle of both. It often feels like a private island, with nearly-deserted white-sand beaches, dolphin pods frolicking offshore and plentiful tee times at the island’s two championship golf courses. There are no cars allowed, so sightseeing is done by bicycle, golf cart or your own two feet. The Daufuskie Island Resort and Breathe Spa is the only hotel, and rates at this four-star property are often under $200 per night in the autumn months and even lower for stays mid-week.
Las Vegas, NV
Face it – you could lose a fortune in Sin City, but a little savvy trip planning will help you keep your shirt. Las Vegas is so popular that’s there’s no off season and barely a shoulder season, but the thinnest crowds in autumn are found immediately before and following Thanksgiving when there are fewer conventions in town. If you can arrange your visit to the Strip for midweek, that will save you big bucks on both airfare and lodging. There are over 150,000 hotel rooms in Las Vegas – plenty of competition for your business – so take advantage of every freebie, whether it’s gambling credits, dining vouchers or even free room nights to bring down the cost of your vacation.
Bonus: Several Las Vegas hotels are offering free night promotions – extra money for the slots.
If you’re looking for pampering, look no further than Scottsdale, where high-end resorts and luxury spas are what the crowds flock here for in the winter months. You can save a bundle by getting here early, as the still-hot temperatures keep prices down and the tourists away. The trick here is to balance the heat and the pricing, because as it gets cooler the room rates go up accordingly. But with plentiful air conditioning and stunning pools, cooling off won’t be your biggest problem – deciding which spa treatment to have next will.
My name: Genevieve Shaw Brown. I also answer to Genny and Gen.
How I earn my keep: I work at Travelocity.
Greatest travel lesson learned: I travel for my job, but I've learned work is work, vacation is vacation, and it's best not to try and do both on one trip.
Fondest travel memory: There are so many... but a recent experience was being totally jet-lagged and waking up pre-dawn in Koh Samui, Thailand, and watching the sun rise with my husband on the beach. We talked about what all our friends and family were doing at that very same moment as the sun set back home in New York.
First thing I do in a new place: Peruse the local restaurants and map out my dining strategy for the duration of my trip. Dining strategy = eating at as many restaurants as humanly possible.
First thing I do when I get home: Put a push pin on the destination I just returned from on the map of the world that hangs on the wall above my couch.
Travel ambition: To cover that map completely in push pins.
My most beloved place in the whole world: Cockle Cove Beach in Chatham, Massachusetts.