After a few months of optimism and growth, the US dollar has stalled along with the economy. Once again it takes over $1.22 to buy one Euro. Pent-up demand is driving an increase in travel, however, as more people take to the skies and fill up hotels, especially business travelers.
Airlines are reporting fewer empty seats and hotel chains are reporting fewer empty beds. While this is great news for a struggling industry, it is not such great news for leisure travelers used to finding great deals everywhere. Tim Leffel, author of The World’s Cheapest Destinations, offers the following tips on where to find the real travel deals this fall. Head to Latin America Grab a Spanish phrase book and fly south this autumn.
Most Latin American economies are tied closely to the dollar, so exchange rates are not an issue. Any country in the continental Americas is cheaper than the US, so it’s hard to go wrong in terms of price. Flexible travelers can find great airfare deals to Mexico, Central America, and as far south as Argentina. Dozens of destinations are on sale weekly for $250 to $600 round trip. Check sites such as SmarterLiving.com and TravelZoo.com for the latest deals, or go to SkyAuction.com to bid on packages.
Caribbean Deals For reasons that have nothing to do with quality, the best island bargains in the Caribbean this fall are the Dominican Republic and Margarita Island. Troubles in Haiti have pulled down neighboring Dominican Republic’s currency, so the US dollar is worth twice what it was two years ago. Flight or package deals are available from most US cities and tourists who venture away from the resorts will find their travel dollar going a long way. Margarita Island features all the Caribbean beach staples: palm trees, great seafood, and 320 days a year of sunshine, but at prices that have gone from low to lower. Since the island is part of Venezuela,
Many tourists have been scared off by political troubles in Caracas. Margarita Island has about as much to do with Caracas as Aruba does, however. Unlike its Caribbean neighbors, this island offers 50-cent beers in the bars, fresh fish meals for under $5, and bottles of rum for less than two bucks. All-inclusive resorts in the area are commonly less than $150 per night for a couple until Christmas week and small children usually stay for free. Canada Before the Cold The value of the US dollar has dropped a bit in Canada over the past two years, but the country is still the best first-world deal for Americans or Europeans.
Even in the big cities, prices are noticeably lower than the US average. Many travelers consider fall to be the best time to visit Canada. The air is crisp but not yet freezing and the summer vacation crowds have thinned out. Ski buffs can get an early start in the Canadian Rockies, usually at prices well below those of US resorts. The Other USA The increasing spread of discount airline routes has opened up more of the US to bargain fares. As a result, travelers should also open their horizons to cities they may not have considered before.
Unusually low fares are popping up for markets typically off the travel magazine radar. These days it is common to find fares under $200 to places such as Kansas City, Colorado Springs, Burlington, or Green Bay. Beyond cheaper airfares, tourists in these smaller markets can avoid big city prices as well. See what the specials are from your local airport and go with the flow.