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Top five off-peak destinations for spring 2005

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Balboa Park, San Diego (Photo: Molly Feltner)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on February 10, 2005. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Hawaii, Indonesia, Molly Feltner, San Diego, seasonality, vacation package.

Generally speaking, off-peak travel entails visiting a destination when the weather is less than perfect in exchange for lower travel prices and less crowding. However, we found numerous destinations that have near ideal weather in spring but not the popularity of summertime. So, if you can beat the summer tourists, you may be able to enjoy the perks of off-peak travel without sacrificing decent weather.

Our top five choices for off-peak spring travel are Bali, Barcelona, Hawaii, San Diego, and Buenos Aires.

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Bali

Europeans flock to Indonesia's paradisiacal island of Bali every summer begining in June, but the warm dry weather that draws the crowds precedes them by two months. If an exotic beach vacation sounds good to you, you'll do well to avoid the crowds and high prices in Bali by arriving in April or May when the temperatures are in the 70s and 80s, rain is infrequent, and the prices for travel are low. And, although last December's tsunami hit several southeast Asian beach resorts hard, Bali, situated behind the island of Java, was untouched by the waves' devastating affects.

While you'll miss the crowds of foreigners by coming in the spring, you won't miss out on local Balinese festivals and attractions. Numerous holidays and celebrations take place on the island in spring, including Hari Waisak, which commemorates the life of Buddha. You'll also be able to explore Bali's wild interior and witness local people performing traditional arts and music with little competition from other tourists.

Saving money is a big perk of spring travel too. Hotels reduce rates, airfare prices drop, and vacation packages may be hundreds less. To demonstrate this, we compared vacation packages from three providers for travel in the spring and summer below.

Package Provider Spring rate Summer rate
Seven nights in Bali Go-Today $989 (April 1 to May 31) $1,229 (June 1 to 21)
Five nights in Bali Pacific Delight Tours $1,059 (April 1 to May 31) $1,279 to $1,299 (June 1 to August 15)
Five nights in Bali General Tours $1,299 (January 1 to May 31) $1,599 (June 1 to August 15)

Prices are based on flights from Los Angeles and hotel double occupancy and were on found the providers' websites. Rates vary by departure date and may be higher for stays over holidays.

To find more Bali vacation packages, visit the websites of Go-Today, Pacific Delight Tours, and General Tours. For air deals, check out the sites of airlines that serve Bali from the U.S., including Cathay Pacific and Korean Air. For general information on Bali, go to the Bali Tourism Authority website.Top

Barcelona

If you dare to venture to pricey Europe this year, traveling in the spring will help to avoid summer's outrageous airfares and crowds. And, for good weather and more daylight, head south to a Mediterranean city like Barcelona, which experiences mild temperatures in the 50s to 70s and low humidity from April to June.

During these months, enjoy exploring the city neighborhoods like Barri Gòtic and Gràcia before the weather gets too muggy. Plus, take in uncrowded attractions like the La Sagrada Família cathedral, the Picasso Museum, and the Miró Foundation.

Although hotel rates in the city don't fluctuate much throughout the year because of business travelers and visiting Europeans, travelers from the States will find major savings with spring airfare and vacation packages. Looking at three different air-and-hotel vacations from three different providers, we found that rates for travel in summer were about $300 more per person than in the spring.

Package Provider Spring rate Summer rate
Six nights in Barcelona Go-Today $749 (March 14 to May 29) $1,019 (May 30 to August 25)
Four nights in Barcelona Gate 1 Travel $969 (April 1 to May 26) $1,259 (May 27 to July 4)
10 nights in Barcelona and Northern Spain Go Ahead Vacations $2,299 (April 7 to May 12) $2,589 (May 26 to August 11)

Prices are based on flights from New York and hotel double occupancy and were on found the providers' websites. Rates vary by departure date and may be higher for stays over holidays.

Find low Spain fares by visiting the SmarterTravel.com air section, or the websites of airlines that frequently have sale fares to Barcelona, like Iberia. Look for low-cost packages in the SmarterTravel.com vacation section.Top

Hawaii

While Hawaii never really experiences a low season, winter and summer tend to be more popular times to visit the islands, so the spring (as well as the fall) tends to be a cheaper season to come. And, the weather between April and June is actually better than the winter, with less rainfall and pleasant temperatures ranging from about 68 to 86 degrees.

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