Summer is quickly drifting away. The cues are all there: The Olympics are over, the NFL preseason is in full swing, back-to-school sales are in every shop window -- and deals are starting to pop up in popular summer travel destinations.
The same places that cost a (tanned) arm and a leg in the middle of summer get much cheaper once the calendar turns to mid-August. This is also the time when airfares start to drop as airlines launch fall sales. The savings often stick around through September, so there’s still time to create a memorable (end of) summer vacation. Whether it’s a last-minute Labor Day getaway or a final summer hurrah, the Deal Experts at Travelzoo have uncovered seven sweet spots that offer up exceptional savings.
The land of Mickey Mouse and Harry Potter and Shamu never really has an “off” season, but hotel rates are often around their lowest points of the year at the end of the summer. The reason? With schools back in session or about to start soon, very few families are taking the kids to the Magic Kingdom in August or September. The result? Shorter lines at popular attractions and savings of as much as 70% on Orlando hotels and entertainment.
Got beach? If summer tanning didn’t pan out, there’s still time. Resorts across the Caribbean and Mexico’s East Coast are offering savings of 50% or more this time of year, as “hurricane season” keeps travelers away. Armed with travel insurance, however, sun-seekers can score a great last-minute deal for all-inclusive resorts and luxury getaways. We’ve seen great fares to Puerto Rico and vacation deals to popular spots such as the Bahamas, Dominican Republic and the Cayman Islands. Not a gambler? The islands of Aruba, Bonnaire and Curacao are outside the hurricane belt.
Every year in mid-August, the $1000+ roundtrip fares to Europe give way to prices that are hundreds of dollars cheaper. Popular destinations such as Ireland, Paris and Barcelona are significantly cheaper to get to, and, thanks to the Euro struggles, a bit cheaper to stay in as well. We’ve even seen aggressive post-Olympics deals in London, after reports that the 2012 Games didn’t deliver a big tourism boost. We’re also seeing great deals on Mediterranean cruises, which give travelers the chance to wake up in a new port every day.
Aloha! Much like Orlando, there’s not an “off” season on the islands, but as summer tourism fades, late summer and fall are when we see the best deals on Hawaiian vacations. Resorts from Maui to Kauai are offering savings of 40% -- leaving plenty of money for a frozen drink on the beach. Savings Tip: Looking ahead, if you want to spend a holiday in Hawaii -- Labor Day and Thanksgiving don’t generally command a premium, but hotel rates double the week after Christmas.
In a few short months, South Florida will again be one of the more expensive vacation destinations in the U.S. So take advantage of late-summer and early-fall deals that offer savings of as much as 50% from South Beach to Palm Beach. Savings Tip: Look for airfare into all three South Florida airports -- West Palm Beach (PBI), Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and Miami (MIA) -- a short drive could save you a big pile of cash. And, if you have your heart set on staying at a South Beach hotel, get the best deals by staying midweek.
The Rockies & Southwest
Postcard-perfect views, luxury resorts, top-rated golf courses and spas … the Western U.S. has a lot to offer, and for savvy travelers, now’s the time to go. You’ll find Arizona resorts looking to lure back visitors after a hot summer and Colorado resorts attempting to fill room nights before ski season starts. In a few months, prices will double or triple at these resorts.
Many times, deals can be found by going against the flow. Most Americans have already enjoyed their summer week of sand and sun, so popular beach towns such as Myrtle Beach, S.C., see prices start to dip in late August. In addition to these lower rates, you can often find deals at restaurants, spas and activities, as these businesses try to finish off the season with a flourish.