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Top five off-peak destinations for fall 2005

SmarterTravel

Post-Labor Day travel can be some of the most pleasant, and most inexpensive, of the year. Temperatures cool from their summer highs, airfare prices drop, and crowds thin. Whether you want to get away to the beach, a city, the countryside, or somewhere exotic, you can save a bundle. For fall 2005, our picks for the top five off-peak destinations are Belize, Bermuda, India, Ireland, and Montreal.

Belize

A small country in Central America bordered by the Caribbean Sea, Belize boasts the world’s second-largest barrier reef, and attracts scuba divers and snorkeling enthusiasts. Belize also appeals to archaeology lovers, as ancient Mayan ruins are scattered throughout the country.

Fall in Belize brings a number of special events. Independence Day celebrations take place on September 21, with a parade, music, and food. Garifuna Settlement Day is on November 19, commemorating the arrival of the first Garinagus to Belize, complete with local music and traditional food.

Fall is hurricane season for much of the Caribbean and Central America, so prices will drop significantly when compared to winter prices. Even so, be sure to weigh the risks of traveling during hurricane season, and consider purchasing travel insurance to protect your investment. We searched for hotel rates in Belize to see how much you can save by traveling in the off-peak fall season and we found savings of up to $57 per night.

Room type Hotel Fall rate Winter rate
Veranda and/or balcony room Banana Beach Resort, Ambergris Caye $81 (April 16 through December 20) $114 (December 21 through April 16, 2006)
Junior suite, parkside Iguana Reef Inn, Caye Caulker $87 (May 1 through November 14) $114 (November 15 through April 30, 2006)
Room with private bath Maya Mountain Lodge, San Ignacio $49 (May 1 through December 20) $59 (December 21 through April 30, 2006)

Prices were on found the providers’ websites. Rates may be higher for stays over holidays.

To find bundled air-and-hotel vacation packages, try Jet-A-Way Holidays or browse SmarterTravel.com’s vacation section. Central America airfare deals can be found in SmarterTravel.com’s airfare section. For a comprehensive listing of Belize travel tips and hotels, visit the Belize Tourism Board’s website or BelizebyNaturalight.com. Top

Bermuda

Fall is the end of Bermuda’s high season. As temperatures cool down, visitors drop off and prices for accommodations and airfare drop as well. However, the weather is still perfect for relaxing on the beach, riding a moped, and window shopping.

Bermuda has been celebrating its quincentennial throughout 2005 with various events. In October, Bermuda is hosting the 10th anniversary of the Bermuda Music Festival, featuring popular artists such as Al Green, Patti LaBelle, and Joss Stone. The Bermuda Culinary Arts Festival takes place later in October, and features celebrity chefs, organic farm tours, and a champagne brunch. In November, Bermuda hosts the World Rugby Classic.

Mid-fall is the start of Bermuda’s off-peak travel season, and many hotels begin discounting their rates after October 31. By traveling in November, you can take advantage of the still-warm weather, as well as lowered hotel rates. We found savings of up to $125 per night.

Room type Hotel Fall rate Summer rate
Deluxe room Surf Side Beach Club, Warwick $150 (November 1, 2005, through March 31, 2006) $275 (April 1 through October 31)
Double occupancy room Harmony Club, Paget $155 (November 1, 2005, through April 15, 2006) $210 (April 16 through October 31)
Poolside room The Reefs, Southampton $368 (November 1 through 30) $474 (April 14 through October 31)

Prices were on found the providers’ websites.

Check out Bermuda’s tourism website for trip planning ideas. Bermuda airfare deals can be found in our Caribbean air deals section (even though Bermuda is technically not in the Caribbean), and Bermuda vacation specials can be found in our vacation section. Top

India

India is a vast country, and different regions have different travel seasons. Fall is off-peak for Mumbai (formerly Bombay), and while it is the tail end of the rainy season, it may be worth braving the rain to take advantage of lower prices for airfare.

Mumbai is home to the glitz and glamour of Bollywood, the Indian film industry. It is also one of India’s major international gateways, so many travelers spend at least a day or two in Mumbai before setting out to explore the rest of the country. No fewer than six low-fare carriers have cropped up in the past few years with flights in and out of Mumbai, including Air-India Express, Air Sahara, Deccan Air, Kingfisher Airlines, Jet Airways, and SpiceJet. Inexpensive flights make travel within the country less time-consuming than the more traditional bus and rail systems, making trips to the Taj Mahal, beaches of Goa, and other attractions much easier.

Fall in Mumbai brings several Hindi festivals and events, including Navaratri (Nine Nights of Dancing) in October and Diwali (Festival of Lights) in November.

Airfare to India tends not to fluctuate much. However, we found savings of as much as $170 by traveling during the fall rather than the winter. And though airfare may seem prohibitively expensive, keep in mind that in-country costs tend to be much lower than in the U.S. We found hostel rates as cheap as $9 per night.

Sample fares are:

Departure city Fall fare Winter fare
Chicago (O’Hare) $1,238 $1,342
Los Angeles $1,217 $1,385
New York (JFK) $1,207 $1,241

Fall fares were researched on Travelocity and are based on departures November 15 through 22, 2005. Winter fares were researched on Travelocity and are based on departures January 2 through 9, 2006.

To further research travel to India, visit the Ministry of Tourism’s website or Incredible India. Check SmarterTravel.com’s international airfare deals section for air deals to Mumbai. Top

Shannon and the west of Ireland

Ireland’s shoulder-season begins in the fall, traditionally in late September and early October. The west of Ireland is particularly affordable in autumn, with plenty of reduced-price airfare sales to Shannon. The airport in Shannon is smaller and less congested than in Dublin, and is the perfect gateway for exploring the west.

Galway, Mayo, and Roscommon counties have relatively favorable weather (hovering in the 50s Fahrenheit) in the fall, perfect for tooling around in a rental car, stopping to take photos, grabbing a pint at small hole-in-the-wall pubs, and resting your head in any number of inns and B&Bs. Throughout the fall, there are many festivals and events in every county, including Galway’s International Oyster Festival and Cooley-Collins Traditional Music Festival.

We compared vacation packages from different providers, and found savings of as much as $340.

Package Provider Fall rate Summer rate
Airfare, four nights’ accommodations, five-day car rental Aer Lingus Vacations $640 (October 1 through 31) $839 (July 1 through August 31)
Airfare, seven-day car rental Go-today.com $529 (September 7 through September 30) $839 (July 3 through August 31)
Airfare, six nights’ accommodations, seven-day car rental Aer Lingus Vacations $775 (October 1 through 31) $954 (July 1 through August 31)

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.

For more ideas on planning a getaway to the west of Ireland, see the region’s official website. Check SmarterTravel.com’s Europe airfare deals section for cheap flights to Dublin and Shannon, or the vacation section for air-and-hotel getaways. Top

Montreal

Montreal, only an hour-and-a-half flight from New York, is a taste of France in Canada, with Old Montreal’s cobblestone streets, sidewalk cafes, and boutiques. This year, the U.S. dollar has fallen against the Canadian dollar, but visiting Canada is still easier on the wallet than visiting Europe. The fall brings cooler weather (but not as frigid as the winter months), and a slew of special events.

September and October host a discount-fashion weekend, the POP Montreal International Music Festival, and a nearly month-long Halloween festival, as well as a variety of other events. Montreal’s Tourism Board is offering a “sweet deals” promotion through October 31, which includes hotel perks, two-for-one admission at museums, and a casino discount booklet.

Flying to Montreal is relatively inexpensive from most major U.S. cities at any time of year. Even so, we found savings of up to $40 in the fall.

Sample fares are:

Departure city Summer fare Fall fare
Boston $307 $279
Miami $389 $348

Summer fares on American are based on departures July 1 through August 30. Fall fares on American are based on departures through December 31.

If you’re looking for airfare deals to Montreal, keep an eye on SmarterTravel.com’s U.S. and Canada airfare deal section, or try the vacation deals section. For more information about travel to Montreal, see its tourism website.
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