Save on Off-Season Travel with these Budget Fall Travel Destinations

This summer found travelers dying to make up for lost vacations due to the pandemic—making for a messy, expensive, and crowded summer travel season.

If you opted out of the pricey rooms and endless waits for a restaurant table, there’s good news: fall travel is not only a less frustrating and crowded time to hit the road but also a great way to feed your wanderlust without overspending.

With a little flexibility and strategy, you can stay on budget, save money and still get the R&R you’ve been craving. Here are some tips to help you plan.

Choose an off-season destination.

Seasonal weather, events, and traditional vacation time can drive traffic to certain regions and create super-pricey high seasons; but for every up, there is a down, meaning you can find cheaper rooms and economical flights when you’re not competing with the masses. Here are a few unexpected fall destinations:

Summer cottage meccas such as Northern Michigan or Cape Cod may boom through the summer months, but slow way, way down as soon as Labor Day is in the books. Pro tip: Locals know that the water is the warmest and beaches the least crowded in the early weeks of September.

Caribbean destinations are bargains in fall when hot summer temps are just starting to cool—just be sure to consider trip insurance, as tropical storms crop up the most this time of year

Fall marks the rainy (and cheaper) season in Mexico, but in popular destinations like Cancun, days are drier and sunnier toward the end of October, with only brief showers.

European destinations like Paris and Prague are no longer crawling with summer tourists (the month of August is the peak of the peak), meaning cheaper flights and rooms, and easier booking for everything from train tickets to restaurant tables.

Be flexible.

If you shop for flights with flexibility in mind, you can save huge chunks of change. For example, searching within a multi-day window for booking dates allows you to avoid pricier business- or weekend-travel times. In the U.S., the cheapest days to fly are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.

Booking a multi-leg or multiple-carrier flight can be cheaper than direct, so be sure to check sites like Orbitz that allow you to piece together the best fares and airlines for your itinerary. Also, consider comparison-shopping nearby or smaller airports for better fares.

If you don’t mind a little uncertainty, last-minute deals on hotels can be found on sites like Hotel Tonight or Priceline, which offer up unbooked rooms for a steal usually for the day of, or less than 7 days out.

Make it a road trip.

Avoid a pricey flight-and-car-rental combo by choosing a driving destination. Sure, gas prices are up, but so are the prices for car rentals: rental prices have surged (up to 95% in some locations) and availability is especially bad in popular vacation spots such as Florida, Arizona, Las Vegas, Hawaii, Alaska, and national parks. Airfare prices are up too: 24% over last year, although still a bit lower than 2019.

Instead, plan a multi-day itinerary to your destination and sightsee along the way. Set a budget; track it with a travel app like Trail Wallet, and stick to it. Bring a cooler, and stock up on drinks, snacks, and roadside stand goodies or sandwiches to save on dining. Stash camping gear in the car and you can camp on the fly, weather and availability permitting. Pro tip: National Forest and Bureau of Land Management campsites are cheap or often free, so a little research there will pay off big.

Travel feeds our soul, and we’ve certainly all earned a little soul-soothing this year, but you don’t have to break the bank to get your vacation needs met. At Aspen Wealth Strategies, we view financial planning as a whole-life strategy. Talk to an adviser about how we can help you keep soul goals and money goals in sync.

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