It's a long way off, but if you've got the vaguest inkling that you want to travel for the holidays, now's the time to start thinking about where to go. Traveling during Thanksgiving and Christmas can be beneficial -- you're leaving the country when most people are going, your destination is typically not as crowded as it would be during peak tourism seasons, and prices remain competitive. We've found deals to Europe, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Southeast Asia, Central America, and even the Holy Land, Israel.
How competitive? Take, for example this trip to Paris for Thanksgiving weekend from Tourcrafters (tel. 800/482-1405; www.tourcrafters.com), priced from $389. The package includes round-trip airfare from New York to Paris, three nights at the Holiday Inn Bibliotheque de France, daily buffet breakfast, hotel service charges and taxes. It is possible to fly out of other cities for additional costs, such as Boston ($35), Chicago ($65), Los Angeles ($202), or Atlanta ($184). The special is valid November 15 until March 15, except during the Christmas-New Year period. You sacrifice location a bit -- you're a metro ride away from Louvre, the Champs-Élysées and the Eiffel Tower -- but the hotel is located in the Bercy neighborhood and close to the new National Library. You must book by June 29 to get this special rate.
Europe ASAP (tel. 415/750-5449; www.europeasap.com) is offering a handful of city break packages, including a Rome Special for six nights that includes round-trip airfare, daily breakfast, hotel taxes and service charges, starting from $749 based on two people traveling together. The price is also valid over Thanksgiving, good though for travel November 1-December 13 and January 8-March 23, 2008. You must book it by June 18.
If you can't make that deadline, Go-Today (tel. 800/227-3235; www.go-today.com) has a competitive Thanksgiving in Rome package priced from $749 for departures November 16-21, but you must book by June 21.The price reflects a six-night stay in a budget hotel in a standard room (you can certainly upgrade for a price) and includes round-trip airfare (with the price calculated on either Dallas or Chicago departures), breakfast daily, airline fuel surcharges, taxes and service charges.
Cheap Caribbean (tel. 800/915-2322; www.cheapcaribbean.com) offers a special at the Presidente Intercontinental Cancun, a AAA four-diamond property with large guest rooms. A seven-night minimum stay is required during the valid travel period -- through December 20 -- but if you book by June 18 it's priced at $719 per person, with the fifth and seventh nights for free, and you also receive a free room upgrade. The package is based on departure from Miami and includes round-trip airfare, airport-hotel transfers, free use of Internet, the company's "free your mind" travel protection program, and kids 12 and under stay and eat free from kids menu when dining with parents. The promotion does not include your meals, beverages, tips, tax or service charges.
Cheap Caribbean has another special for Majestic Colonial Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, an upscale all-inclusive resort with a kid's club. There are two travel periods for this special: Travel November 22-28 starts from $799 per person for five nights. Or travel September 1-December 23 -- that package is available from $749 per person for five nights. Both promotions include a 30 percent golf discount and include round-trip airfare, five nights in a junior suite, all meals and beverages and gratuities, and the company's "free your mind" travel protection. To take advantage of either of these promotions you must book by June 19. Note: If you want to be there on Christmas, that package price starts from $1,399 per person for travel December 23-January 4, 2008.
Gate 1 Travel (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com) has several offers of interest for travel in Thailand and Costa Rica, for example. The company's eight-day Bangkok trip priced from $899, departs November 19 and includes airfare, six nights hotel, breakfast daily. The price reflects departures from Los Angeles and also includes airline fuel surcharges. A 10-day guided trip to Bangkok and Phuket that departs December 23. The itinerary includes eight nights in a first-class hotel -- four apiece in each destination, transfers, sightseeing, and daily breakfast, priced from $2,049.
Or select Thanksgiving in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, priced from $779 for a four-star property, four nights' accommodations, airline fuel surcharges, round-trip airfare at the all-inclusive El Nakuti Resort. There is one departure date -- November 21 -- for this trip.
For trips to the Holy Land during December, Friendly Planet (tel. 800/555-5765; www.friendlyplanet.com) offers Jerusalem Express, an eight-day trip priced from $999 with departures December 9 and December 16. The package includes round-trip flights form New York to Tel Aviv, five nights of accommodations at a superior first class hotel, Israeli buffet breakfast daily and arrival and departure transfers. You can opt to add the Eilat Extension, which gives you two extra nights in this Red Sea resort. The sale price reflects a cash discount and is valid as long as you book July 21, and is a savings of up to $400 per couple.
For a more comprehensive trip, Smartours (tel. 800/337-7773; www.smartours.com) has a sale on a sixteen-day trip to Vietnam and Angkor Wat, with an $800 discount per couple if you reserve by July 27. The sale price starts at $2,299 and includes round-trip airfare from Los Angeles, airline fuel surcharges, 28 meals, intra-Asia flights and ground transportation, sightseeing fees, an English-speaking tour director, and accommodations at deluxe and first-class hotels with private baths. The itinerary includes time in Siem Reap, Saigon, a Mekong Delta excursion, Hanoi, and Seoul. There are departures available throughout the fall, including November 19, December 10 and December 27; prices range from $2,399-$2,599.