How much can traveling in low season really save you? Quite a lot actually so you may want to consider being flexible with your travel dates to snag the following bargains over the next month or two.
Obviously by definition, low season may often mean that weather conditions are not exactly ideal, but why let a little cold or wet weather get in the way on a sensational travel experience. There are also a few destinations that are still relatively warm but whose prices cool right down during the northern hemisphere's winter.
While the Caribbean islands are basking in their overly inflated high season prices from December to March, head a bit further north into the Atlantic to visit the island of Bermuda in its traditional low season. Called the "Golf and Spa" season with weather averaging at around 65 degrees, you could hardly call it cold. Yes the ocean is a little frosty for taking a dip, but you'll get to experience the island relatively free of tourist crowds and for a lot less. Bermuda Tourism (tel. 800/506-6215; www.bermudatourism.com) is currently offering a "Compliments of Bermuda" vacation package, saving $300 a couple on each trip at the following participating properties: Ariel Sands, Cambridge Beaches, CoCo Reef Bermuda, Elbow Beach Bermuda, Fairmont Hamilton Princess, Fairmont Southampton, Grotto Bay Beach Resort, Pompano Beach Club and the Surf Side Beach Club.
For example a five-night vacation to Bermuda including round-trip airfare from New York to Hamilton (on Delta and/or US Airways), accommodation at the luxury ocean front four-and-a-half-star Fairmont Southampton Hotel and all taxes and fees is priced from $805 per person for travel during the month of February, 2007. A regular night's accommodation here in peak summer season costs upwards of $419, so five-nights in summer would set you back a minimum of $2,095 plus international airfare, which makes this special winter deal a real bargain. The same package staying at the three-star Surf Side Beach Club is priced from $735 this winter. Summer rates here usually start at $295 a night.
Fiji -- okay so it may not officially be low season -- but the Fijians are feeling pretty low right now after some political upheavals that have taken their toll on the tourism industry. So the Pacific paradise's national carrier Air Pacific (tel. 800/227-4446; www.airpacificusa.com) is extending its $754 Fiji Fun deal. Passengers now have until March 20, 2007 to book/purchase their tickets with travel dates up until June 17, 2007. And in case you really love it there and don't want to come home, your trip can last up to one year from the date of departure. Airport taxes and fees of approximately $236 are additional. There are four weekly overnight non-stop flights from Los Angeles to Nadi, Fiji and the U.S. dollar is still strong against the Fiji dollar with an exchange rate of USD $1 = FJD $1.68.
While it is peak season everywhere else in Florida, there is a glimmer of sunshine without the price tag when it comes to Walt Disney World in Orlando. Act quickly though -- you only have until February 14, 2007 to take advantage of what Disney calls Value Season -- the lowest-priced period for rooms at Disney World due to low visitation when kids are in school. Other value season dates are July 8 to October 3 and November 25-December 19. Check with Mousesavers (www.mousesavers.com) for tips on how to save big on Disney accommodation and packages. You'll also find many of the nearby, non-Disney affiliated hotels and resorts also offering discounts of between 10 and 40% during the off season periods.
Basically anywhere in Europe will be considered low season during the winter and until mid to late March. To be honest though, it's a perfect time to discover Europe's big cities, restaurants and cultural venues to get the real flavor of a location without millions of marauding tourists. Sure it may be a cold, wet or maybe snowy, but if you stick to Mediterranean coastal destinations, you'll enjoy milder climate and some exceptional destinations -- like Italy, Croatia, France, Greece, Spain and Malta.
1800 Fly Europe (tel. 800/359-3876; www.1800flyeurope.com) lets you easily compare the savings between traveling in winter, spring and summer with its pricing for each season for airfares, airfare and car, or airfare and hotel packages. Discounts between low and high seasons can be as much as 60%. The following airfare and three-day car rental prices are a good example:
New York to Amsterdam
- Now-March 31: $397
- April 1-May 25: $527
- May 26-August 31: $927
Boston to Paris
- Now-March 31: $437
- April 1-May 25: $569
- May 26-August 31: $939
Los Angeles to London
- Now-March 31: $457
- April 1-May 25: $629
- May 26-August 31: $947
Chicago to Venice
- Now-March 31: $537
- April 1-May 25: $717
- May 26-August 31: $1,159
Dallas to Madrid
- Now-March 31: $607
- April 1-May 25: $699
- May 26-August 31: $1,059
Greece in particular can be an appealing location during winter with magnificent archaeological sites, museums aplenty, shopping and great food. Islands like Santorini welcome visitors all year round as does Mykonos, Crete, Rhodes, Sifnos, Lesvos, Paros, Naxos and Syros. Athens is also the perfect place to base yourself for day trips to some of the closer islands like Hydra, Spetsis, Poros and Aegina and I hear that the February sales in the capital's boutiques make the trip more than worthwhile. Go-Today (tel. 800/227-3235; www.go-today.com) has a winter "Athens Super Sale" with a four-night trip including round-trip airfare, fuel surcharges, accommodation at the centrally located Hermes Hotel and breakfast daily priced from $629 per person plus taxes when traveling from now until February 28, 2007. The catch is you have to book by January 30, 2007. Add $60 from Los Angeles, $70 from Chicago and $120 from Detroit.
No need to discuss the weather when it comes to Canada in winter, but our neighbor to the north makes a wonderful destination for a romantic getaway, a girl's shopping frenzy or a ski trip. United Airlines (tel. 800/538-2929; www.united.com) is currently offering a Canada airfare sale, even for last minute travel to Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg or Toronto. All travel must be completed by February 28, 2007, a three-day advance purchase is required, and fares are valid for off-peak travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Saturdays with slightly higher fares for other days. Sample one-way fares (round-trip purchase is not required) include:
- Burbank to Calgary $158
- San Francisco to Vancouver $172
- Chicago to Vancouver $208
- Denver to Toronto $219
- Chicago to Winnipeg $219
- Philadelphia to Edmonton $233
Taxes are additional.
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