Posted: 16 September 2011 at 3:08am
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There's still time to take advantage of
the warm weather! Don't opt for a staycation: Instead, check out these
seven affordable destinations.
By Miriam B. Weiner
Earlier this month, the New York Times announced the coming of a "double
dip recession:" The United States economy seems to be approaching a
financial danger zone for the second time since December 2008. That
means the penny pinching is going to continue well into the foreseeable
future. And when it comes to saving money, many of the sacrifices we
usually make have to do with leisure travel.
But for those of you
watching the summer breeze by without so much as considering a trip, we
have good news for you: Bargains lie in wait for those who look
closely. U.S. News Travel has teamed up with Hotwire.com to show you how
to take advantage of these last weeks of summer. To help get you
started, we've compiled a list of seven destinations that are cheap now.
These vacation spots have shown the most significant drop in airline
and hotel prices since this time last year, according to Hotwire's
Year-Over-Year pricing analysis.
Note: The average prices listed
below and in the accompanying slideshow were calculated by Hotwire based
on its analysis of all hotels and flights available for each
Orlando is known for its budget-friendly
Courtesy of wdwnews.com
Family-friendly Orlando is a regular front-runner on Hotwire's Travel
Value Index (which annually evaluates cities based on their rates,
available "discounts, affordable entertainment and overall appeal").
While pricey Disney World is the main attraction, Orlando does feature a
variety of cheaper -- and even free -- attractions. O-Town's hotel and
airfare rates haven't dropped since this time last year, but the city's
already low prices continually allow thrifty travelers to stretch their
vacation budget. And as the new school year draws nearer, more deals
become available for last-minute getaways.
For more savings…
Purchase combo tickets. If you must visit the theme parks, you can save
several hundred dollars by investing in Flex Tickets that grant you
entry to five or six parks -- including Universal Studios and SeaWorld
-- for a little more than you'd spend on one individual
As the summer dies down, so do the crowds, leaving plenty of hotel deals.
Courtesy of DieselDemon / Flickr
Late summer and early fall is a great time to visit the Windy City:
The summer tourists are trickling out and the notorious Midwestern
winter has yet to hit. According to Hotwire's Year-Over-Year analysis,
Chicago's hotel rates have dropped nine percent since this time last
year. And since Virgin America began air service to the city in May,
airfare is experiencing a drop as well (prices fell eight percent since
last summer). Plus, as the warm-weather convention season comes to a
close, Chicago will boast great deals for leisure travelers.
For more savings… Invest
in a Chicago CityPass or a Go Chicago Card. Both of these programs
provide significant discounts on admission to some of the city's top
things to do, including the Art Institute of Chicago and the Field
Riviera Maya, Mexico
Summer's high temperatures and chance of showers keep Mexico's Caribbean coast relatively tourist-free.
Courtesy of tristanf / Flickr
Eastern Mexico is entering its annual tourism slump; most tourists are
deterred by high temperatures and frequent rainfall. However, travelers
who visit in August and early September can skirt the sprinkles while
nabbing excellent deals to some of the country's most popular
destinations, including Playa del Carmen and Cozumel. According to
Hotwire, hotel prices have dropped eight percent since 2010, with
five-star rooms going for $135 a night, on average. And you can find
flights from the U.S. for as low as $250. And to top it all off, you
won't have to pay a cent to enjoy this region's miles of soft sand and
Caribbean Sea views.
For more savings… Pay
with pesos. Although many restaurants and shops in this region accept
United States dollars, vendors are more willing to negotiate a lower
price with you if you use pesos.
The region boasts miles of scenic hiking trails.
Courtesy of Matt Inden/Weaver Multimedia Group/Colorado Tourism Board
Aspen's reputation as a high-end ski destination means warm-weather
travelers can find great discounts. Hotwire's Year-Over-Year analysis
shows that average hotel rates have dropped 12 percent since last summer
while airfare has experienced a four-percent dip. And the best of the
Rockies -- outdoor activities like hiking and biking -- won't cost you a
penny. For those of you planning a September trip, make sure to pack
your camera: This is when the region's numerous aspen trees don their
golden autumn foliage.
For more savings… Opt
for a seat at the bar rather than a table in the restaurant. Many
restaurants in Aspen offer discounted lunch and dinner menus at the bar.
Sure, the choices may be more limited than in the dining room, but it's
all coming from the same kitchen.
August and September yield slashed rates on some of the city's most desirable hotels.
Courtesy of Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau
Like Orlando, Phoenix is frequently listed on Hotwire's Travel Value
Index due to its consistently low summer and fall rates. Tourists
generally steer clear during these months, frightened away by the Valley
of the Sun's triple-digit temps. But air conditioning is never hard to
find, and September will bring about more temperate weather. While this
year's hotel prices mimic last year's -- averaging $55 a night -- plane
tickets have experienced a six-percent drop over the past 12 months. But
the deals won't last long; Phoenix is quickly approaching its
high-season, preparing to welcome cold-weather escapists.
For more savings…
Fill the tank before you leave town. If you're relying on a car as your
primary means of transportation, you'll find that gas is cheapest in
Phoenix proper than it is in less-central areas like Scottsdale and
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Canadians are taking advantage of their
dollar's newfound strength and spending their vacations abroad, leaving
cities like Victoria with plenty of hotel rooms to fill.
Courtesy of Deddeda Stemler / Tourism Victoria
The increasing strength of the Canadian dollar has prompted our northern
neighbors to travel abroad more often than they did before. This
developing trend has driven hotel prices down in Canadian cities like
Victoria. In fact, Hotwire's Year-Over-Year analysis shows that room
rates in the British Columbia city are down 10 percent since last
summer. But bargains aren't the only reason Victoria makes our list: The
city boasts expansive beaches, massive parks and a lively central
square, all of which are free to explore.
For more savings… Avoid
the currency exchange office. Victoria businesses accept most major
credit and debit cards, meaning that you can avoid the cost of
exchanging money. It's a good idea to have some cash on you, but you can
simply use an ATM to withdraw.
Many of the city's most popular attractions, including Centennial Olympic Park won't cost you a penny to visit.
Courtesy of tableatny / Flickr
The Big Peach is known for having some of the best discounts around. And
although the summer and early fall are prime times for business and
group travel, many hotels still boast remarkably low prices. While there
hasn't been a significant decrease in room rates since last year, a
night in Atlanta costs only $62 on average. Airfare, however, has
dropped a significant seven percent over the past 12 months. Plus, some
of the city's most popular sites -- including the Martin Luther King Jr.
National Historic Site and Piedmont Park -- are completely free to
For more savings… Consider
the Atlanta CityPass. Although it may seem like a lot of money, this
pass allows access to five of the city's pricier things to do, including
the World of Coca Cola and the Georgia Aquarium.
Source : Travel.yahoo.com