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Want to Travel for Less? Go Now

SmarterTravel

Tuckered out from tense holiday dinners and long road trips with screaming infants, sullen teenagers, or incontinent family pets? You should take a vacation!

Lucky for you, experts say that January is one of the best months for budget-hunters to travel.

According to data from TripAdvisor (our parent site), travelers save about 25 percent off normal rates if they travel during the weeks following Christmas and New Years, right until about mid-January. An article on USA Today about this low-priced phenomenon noted that, “The average cost of a seven-night winter trip to New York City is $3,271, but if you visit between January 17 and 24, it’ll cost you an average of $1,955. It’s a similar story in Key West, where you’ll save about 14 percent if you travel between January 10 and 17.”

Hello, we’ll take 14 percent off Key West.

Flights are also inexpensive during this off-peak period—in fact, January is often considered the cheapest month to fly.

Why So Cheap?

The simple answer is that demand is relatively low but airline and hotel supplies remain the same as they do during peak times. To put butts in seats and entice travelers, airline prices fall. Around this time of year, expect to see fairly low fares through Valentine’s Day. You may also see great sales on flights or last-minute air-inclusive vacation packages with unusually low rates.

Some quick research found Caribbean flights from Boston, New York, and Chicago from the $280 mark. Same thing for cross-country fares: New York to LAX routes go for about $300 and up right now, and I even found surprisingly cheap flights to Hawaii from $600 (peak-season prices often top $1000 and then some!).

The same goes for hotels: Hoteliers have to fill rooms, but both holiday and business travel is low this time of year. The easiest way to get guests inside is by cutting prices and offering perks like comped breakfasts, free nights, or spa-and-dining credit. A quick spin around the Internet turned up great deals at hotels in major hubs like New York, Chicago, Orlando, Denver, and Seattle. I also found great discounts of 15 to 30 percent off hotels in St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, and other close-to-the-U.S. island destinations.

Where to Go

If you’ve got the vacation days to spare, January is a great time to go almost anywhere. But if you really want to maximize your savings, look for off-peak destinations.

Think cold: Most northeastern U.S. and Canadian destinations, aside from the ski resorts, see a little bit of downtime during this post-holiday season. Check cities like New York, Boston, and Montreal for great deals. 

Bermuda is another good option: The weather is pleasantly temperate, perfect for golf and long, luxurious days at the spa. Hotel rates on Bermuda are deeply slashed at this time of year and you may get good deals on spa treatments or tee times.

And now is the time to visit the Caribbean, before throngs of visitors wash ashore the warm, sunny islands in February. Expect to find free nights or discounts on rack rates on many Caribbean islands, even the luxury-focused redoubts like Anguilla and St. Lucia. Just book quickly—once Valentine’s Day hits, romantically minded sun seekers (and spring breakers) will hit the sands and prices will skyrocket.

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