Each year as fall approaches, we remember that it's our favorite time to travel. The season beckons with beautiful weather, fewer crowds, and better prices. So grab your suitcase and put on your traveling shoes: These five destinations offering great deals this fall deliver everything from cozy getaways to adventures of a lifetime.
How did we choose these destinations? By monitoring trends, industry news, and sale patterns to point you in the direction of places that offer the best bargain values for the coming season. Read on for examples of deals currently available for autumn trips. Like all deals, these are sure to expire; however, a little hunting on your part can yield similar results whenever you're ready to book.
St. Lucia is always among the Caribbean's most beautiful islands, and it's usually among its priciest as well. But this fall, we're seeing a nice window of affordability, new low-cost air service, and a whole theme month that includes some solid discounts, even on the island's pricier pursuits.
JetBlue kicks off new service between Boston and St. Lucia on November 1. JetBlue's fares are already among the lowest to the island—good news for travelers and a competitive-fare challenge for the other airlines serving St. Lucia. Hotel deals also abound this fall, with rates starting as low as $78 per night.
November is St. Lucia's annual Health & Wellness Month, which brings discounted rates and value-added packages. For instance, at the Coconut Bay Resort & Spa, the SpaCation package offers a daily spa treatment per person (for two people), all meals, and a premium ocean-view room for $199 per person, per night, discounted from the usual rate of $449 per person, per night.
Fall just might be the best time to embark on a major trip, even if it's a trip to a hemisphere where they call this time of year spring. This coming season, Australia beckons with airfare sales and packages that soften the usually pricy cost of flying there from the U.S. And new air service puts easy access to the country closer to home for more U.S. residents.
On September 29, Qantas kicks off new service between Dallas/Ft. Worth and Sydney. And when you book by October 3, Qantas Vacations offers a 10-day, two-city package that includes round-trip airfare from Los Angeles, stays in both Sydney and Melbourne, and a sightseeing pass; packages start at $1,999 for travel between November 2 and 26.
Air New Zealand has had recent premium-economy sales (now expired, but keep your eyes peeled for similar offers) for November travel as well—and with pod seating, ample legroom, and premium meals, their premium economy looks a lot like business class on other airlines. We saw sale prices starting at around $2,800. That's about double what you might pay for standard economy, but for a flight that long, it may be just the motivator for bucket-list travelers looking for a splurge that's still relatively attainable. (For comparison's sake, a business-class seat on a United flight between Los Angeles and Sydney in November is $10,000.)
Hawaii is a great place to visit year-round, which unfortunately tends to mean prices stay relatively high throughout the year as well. But the aloha stars have aligned this fall to deliver a pleasing number of hotel discounts across the islands. And new air service puts the islands within reach of more sun-starved mainlanders.
On November 20, Hawaiian Airlines will launch daily nonstop service connecting San Francisco and Maui, a move that will add more than 200,000 seats to the route annually and add an element of competition to pricing on the route.
What Hawaii lacks in fall foliage it makes up for in discounts on accommodations and vacation packages. Through December 19, Aston Hotels & Resorts is offering 15 percent off nightly rates, with per-night prices starting at $81 on Kauai, $110 on Oahu, $124 on Maui, and $170 on the Big Island. Traveling families can save more with Aston's Kids Stay, Play, and Eat Free in Hawaii deal. And Pleasant Holidays' Hot Deals include three-night stays on Oahu with round-trip airfare starting at $569 per person.
It may not cost a thing to stand in a forest and marvel at the vivid oranges, reds, and yellows of the leaves as they change, but leaf-peeping getaways tend to be surprisingly expensive. That's why Ohio is a standout this fall. Not only does the Buckeye State offer a user-friendly and comprehensive guide to fall-foliage long weekends (including itineraries with tips on what else to get up to while you're there), but it's generally more affordable than New England leaf-peeping hot spots and there are additional discounts to take advantage of this year.
For fall stays, you can find discounts and deals at Ohio's five state park lodges. For instance, its 10/20/30 Deal offers 10 percent off one night, 20 percent off two nights, and 30 percent off three-night stays. The state tourism board has dozens more discounts and value-added packages around Ohio for visits this fall.
Head to Copenhagen in early fall and you'll enjoy the lingering effects of summer (including more daylight). Prefer something cozier? Wait until late fall and head there when the city hunkers down for winter. Whichever part of autumn you choose, you should be able to find surprisingly affordable airfare this season.
Both Air Berlin and Icelandair, for example, have recently run sales (Air Berlin's just expired, but we predict another similar offer will come along soon) with fares—including taxes, fees, and so on—starting at around $700 from New York. Compared to the advertised low price from cities such as Berlin ($899 on Air Berlin) or Glasgow ($896 from Icelandair) for similar fall dates, the value of Copenhagen shines.
And while Copenhagen is generally regarded as an expensive city, there are plenty of ways to visit on any budget. VisitCopenhagen.com has lists of free and cheap things to do, inexpensive restaurants, and other money-saving tips.
(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock, Twelve Apostles, Australia)
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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title Top Five Bargain Destinations for Fall 2014.