The Deal Detective is SmarterTravel's resident bargain hunter, Kate Hamman. She's always on the lookout for new travel deals and invites you, dear reader, to submit your own questions.
With its brisk weather that requires a cozy sweater; its kaleidoscope of rusty browns, deep oranges, and vibrant yellows that send the landscape into a flurry of color; and its smell of apples, cinnamon, and pumpkins, fall is a wonderful time. But it doesn't end there, especially when it comes to traveling. Most people are familiar with or have heard of traveling in the shoulder season, and it just so happens that fall fits this category for destinations across the world.
What exactly does this mean? It means that there are fewer tourists alongside you—schools are back in session—the weather is cooler, and prices are typically lower. Or, in other words, it's an ideal time to take that trip you've been dreaming about. And to help get you started, I've dusted off my magnifying glass and uncovered the very best deals for the season. In no particular order, I give you the top 10 deals for fall.
If you want to experience all the glory of what fall has to offer, hop aboard Norwegian Cruise Line's 10-day Canada and New England cruise. The trip starts at $499 per person (without taxes and fees) for an inside cabin in October, and travels round-trip from New York City with stops in Boston; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Quebec City, Quebec; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; and Sydney, Nova Scotia.
Perhaps you're in the mood for a bit of romance mixed with culture this autumn. If so, Europe ASAP's Vienna Winter City Special is right up your alley. Don't let the name fool you; the travel dates are good from October 26 through December 10, as well as from January through March. Six-night packages start at $699 per person (without taxes and fees)—or a little more than $115 per night—and include round-trip airfare from New York City (other departure cities are available for a higher price), six nights' accommodations, and daily continental breakfast.
Virgin Vacations London at Its Best packages are a great reason to cross the Pond. The six-night deal starts at $599 per person (without taxes and fees)—or a little less than $100 per night—for travel in November (other travel dates are available for a higher price), and includes round-trip airfare, accommodations, daily continental breakfast, hotel taxes and service fees, and fuel surcharges. You must book by October 14.
If you'd rather go a bit further south, but still want to travel internationally, go-today.com's Florence Escape may be just what you're looking for. The package starts at $649 for travel this fall, and includes round-trip airfare from New York City (other departure cities are available for a higher price), four nights' accommodations, daily continental breakfast, hotel taxes and service charges, and fuel surcharges. The deal expires October 30.
Not ready to say good bye to summer just yet? Funjet is making it a breeze to soak up the last of the sunny weather by offering three-night all-inclusive vacations to Mexico, Hawaii, the Caribbean, and Las Vegas. Packages start at $345 per person (without taxes and fees) for trips to Cancun in October, and include accommodations and round-trip airfare from Chicago. Prices vary by destination, departure city, travel dates, and availability. Travel is valid through December 15.
Pleasant Holidays is making a tropical getaway oh-so-affordable this season with its Hawaii Fall Sale. Deals start at $465 per person (without taxes and fees), and come with three nights' accommodations and round-trip airfare from San Francisco (departures are available from Los Angeles at a higher price). Travel is valid through December 7 (except for Maui, which is valid November 9 through December 7), with available flights to Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island.
CheapCaribbean.com also invites you to save and stay warm this season with its Dominican Republic package. The deal starts at $499 per person (without taxes and fees), and comes with five nights' accommodations at the all-inclusive Lifestyle Tropical Beach Resort and Spa, round-trip airfare, Trip Mate weather insurance, and $100 coupon if it rains during your stay. Travel is valid through the end of November, and you must book by October 7.
However, if you're feeling a bit goofier and want to spend time with like-minded characters—say, Mickey, Minnie, and of course Goofy himself—then Southwest Vacations has got a deal for you. Now through December 15, you can save $400 on a trip to Disneyland by booking a four-night vacation package, which includes round-trip airfare, a four-day Disneyland Resort Park Hopper pass, and four-nights' stay at a Disneyland Resort hotel. A five-day advanced purchase is required, and you must travel by December 20.
If you're planning a tropical escape for the beginning of November, you can save up to 45 percent off packages to the Caribbean with Expedia. Deals start at $368 per person (without taxes and fees) to destinations such as Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Croix, Aruba, Bermuda, and St. Lucia, and include round-trip airfare and three nights' accommodations. Prices vary by departure city, destination, availability, and travel dates.
If you already have your flight booked, but are still in need of a place to stay, Hotels.com is making it easy to save up to 50 percent off hotel rooms through October 19 in destinations such as Boston, New York City, Mazatlan, Montreal, and many more locales. Book by October 12. Also, if you're thinking of staying a bit longer, you can save up to 50 percent on condos through November 2 in places like Orlando, Aspen, Kauai, Myrtle Beach, and others. Book by October 26.
That's the best of the best, at least for now. However, just like the changing of the leaves, new deals are turning up every day, so keep an eye out for a price that will make this fall as magical as possible. If you've already found a deal that you think I've missed or have comments about traveling in the fall, please submit your thoughts below.
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All prices, dates, and booking details listed here were valid at the time of publication. Some information may have changed since that time.