Best deals of the (winter) travel ‘down season’

Winter tends to be shoulder season for a lot of places, which is when a destination isn’t at its most popular but you can get a much better deal especially after the holidays than you’d be able to get in the summer. Additionally, the off-season means cheaper deals on flights and more hotel availability. Hotels are a little more willing to budge on price and offer you a deal you might not be able to get otherwise.The trick to planning a winter trip on a budget is to watch for flight deals by using apps like Hopper or Skyscanner. If you’re looking to take a budget trip usually your biggest expenditure is going to be a flight so if you can save there you’re going to save everywhere!

Some destinations to keep in mind:

Ashville, NC

With budget airlines expanding to the city, Asheville saw a 40 percent drop in airfares according to CheapOair. Enjoy the Blue Ridge Mountains for great value into the early winter months of 2019. Walk around the Art Deco downtown area, take a rooftop bar tour with amazing views, drink up at some of the city’s 33 breweries in the South Slop District, or even take a winter hike (here are five to choose from.)

The Bahamas

It’s low season right now for the Bahamas, which makes it a perfect time to go and get some sun.You won’t have to pay as much as you would during peak season, so if you’re looking for a deal, it’s still warm, the ocean is perfectly turquoise and you can enjoy the white sand beaches. From the east coast, flights start at $250 round-trip, and hotels and all-inclusive resorts could be as little as $100-$200 per night. All-inclusive resorts also offer food, drinks and activities, making it a perfect option for budget-savvy travelers.

Taos, New Mexico

For skiers and winter enthusiasts, Taos is a little bit under the radar and it’s not quite as popular as Aspen or Vail. It’s a lot more affordable if you’re looking for a ski vacation and there are also day spas and art museums and all kinds of cultural activities. From the east or west coasts, flights are around $225 round-trip, and while hotels and condos are a little pricier at the ski resorts, there are plenty of options to find a rate that will fit in your budget.

Austria

With roundtrip flights from Boston, Chicago, and Baltimore to Vienna at near-historic lows—like $500 low, as found on Airfarewatchdog—this popular skiing country in Europe makes for a great affordable winter vacation this year. Hit the slopes in the Austrian Alps with tour operator Contiki on the Austria Ski package, a weeklong ski trip starting at $685 (including accommodations, day trips, and most meals). Based in Hopfgarten, it’s the perfect base to explore the SkiWelt, Austria’s interconnected ski slope network. The country embraces cold weather with famous Christmas Markets, ice skating rinks, roasted chestnut and potato wedge stalls, mulled wine, and the best opera season.

Warsaw, Poland

According to CheapOair, Poland and its capital Warsaw are cheapest to travel to in the winter, with early 2019 prices about $580 roundtrip. Whether you’re looking to celebrate the holidays in Europe or experience a world-class European city on the cheap, Warsaw should be on the top of your list. Classic wintertime activities include ice skating in Old Town Square, strolling through the outdoor illumination exhibit, visiting The Royal Garden of Light, and soaking in the outdoor heated pools at Wodny Park.

Nevada

According to KAYAK and CheapAir.com, Las Vegas is one of the cheapest places to fly this winter, with a median airfare of about $200 roundtrip; or head to Reno-Tahoe for about $300 roundtrip from most major U.S. cities. Nevada is an affordable winter vacation spot that sees mild weather and offers a variety of activities, from casino-going to outdoor activities like hiking and skiing. Peppermill Resort offers prices as low as $80 per night in the winter, and has geothermally heated outdoor pools that are open year-round. The Peppermill and other resorts in the area also offer ski packages to North Lake Tahoe’s world-class ski mountains like Mt. Rose and Diamond Peak, including accommodations, shuttle service, ski rentals, and lift tickets all for prices about $280.

TRAVEL TRENDS FOR 2019

CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO VIDEO

The rise of the ‘mini trip

Maybe it’s because people are working more hours but it seems travelers are reporting that they plan to take more weekend trips in 2019! Thanks to improvements in flight routes and flight tracking apps – ‘micro trips’ will become increasingly more popular and varied. Go-to tracking apps like Hopper have made it easy for people to book hotels or flights based on notifications and predictions on when and how prices will rise and fall and when the best time to book is. Tools like this are also a great way to explore different destinations and see when and where price wise the best place to go for you is!

The Caribbean and FL Keys continue to bounce back in a big way

Many of the Caribbean islands and the keys hit by Hurricane Irma and Maria are well on way on their way to recovery by now. There are also more flights to these destinations than ever before (from smaller cities like Boston and Denver.) They Keys are a particularly good bet for accessible paradise with something for everyone; take Key West’s Havana Cabana Resort – rich in charm and character where guest can relax and unwind with a midday mojito by the pool, conquer an array of watersports or just explore the colorful, buzzing town on a bicycle or vintage Vespa.

Conscious travel

2019 Should likely see a rise in people’s desire to learn something new while on vacation. Destinations like on the west coast like the City of Los Angeles should be a popular choice offering that California ‘all round vibe’ that includes a variety of experiences for a conscious traveler to experience from sustainable, farm-to-table cuisine to scenic hiking and surfing. Meditation gardens like Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens provide incredible spiritual retreat, while Bikes and Hikes L.A. offers hikes throughout the day until sunset, to discover some of the City’s most picturesque views. And between Santa Monica, Redondo and Manhattan Beach, travelers will find an array of surf camps to choose from!

Customization and Personalization

Especially technology that can help you keep track of & benefit from airline loyalty programs and offer solid travel hacks from a well travelled community, are on the rise. Apps like App in the Air is personal flying assistant that not only does that but also keeps you up-to-date with your flight: real time status, provides airport tips and in-airport navigation maps, flight profile with all your flights logged. The app works offline (gate changes and flight status updates are delivered via SMS which requires no data roaming).

The rise in the ‘vacation home’

According to a recent survey by Wyndham Destinations, more than half of millennials surveyed said have vacationed in a timeshare and a whopping three quarter said they actually liked it. Nearly half of Americans in general travel as a family and tend to like comfort when they travel like spacious accommodations, consistent service and brand names — all things that timeshares offer. In fact, the number one thing (34%) consumers say make their vacation less enjoyable is a lack of amenities like laundry, a fitness room or pool.  Homes away from home seem to be the future…

2019 Travel Trends

  • The rise of the ‘mini trip

It could be the combination of longer daily working hours or the increased accessibility to travel but it seems travelers are reporting that they plan to take more weekend trips in 2019. Thanks to improvements in flight routes, transport, cheap flights, on-demand car rentals and accommodation, micro trips will become increasingly more popular and varied.

  • The Caribbean continues to bounce back in a big way.

Many of the Caribbean islands hit by Hurricane Irma and Maria are well on way on their way to recovery by now. As islands like Puerto Rico used reconstruction efforts to improve infrastructure and upgrade or retool their tourist experiences, you can expect the Caribbean to be a top destination in 2019.

Adding fuel to this fire is the fact that there are more American flights to the Caribbean than ever before, so for consumers, especially those living in smaller cities like Charlotte, Denver or Boston, this means that access to the Caribbean is easier than ever before. And depending on where you are going, this could mean cheaper flights.

  • Eco-travel and eco-tourism

Green travel is not a new concept. Booking.com predicts millennials and Gen Z travelers will look for sustainable experiences in their destination choices in the new year, while accommodation providers will look to reduce their plastic usage and increase their sustainable credentials.

A staggering 86 per cent of global travelers reportedly told the vacation company they would be willing to spend some time on activities that offset the environmental impact of their stay, with over 37 per cent willing to clear plastic and litter from a beach or other tourist attraction.

  • Conscious travel

Many global travelers agree that traveling has taught them invaluable life skills, and 2019 should likely see a rise in people’s desire to learn something new while on vacation.

Travel with experiences at its core was one of 2018’s major travel trends but 2019 will take it even further, according to Booking.com. Almost two thirds of travelers (60 per cent) value experiences higher than material possessions, now which will mean 2019 will see travelers packing in many different and authentic experiences – including volunteering, hiking or learning a new skill.

  • Thanks to low-cost airlines, Hawaii will be even more accessible than before

A five hour flight from the West Coast, Hawaii has always been a bucket list destination. But this past year thanks to the entrance of low cost carriers into the market, ticket prices from the mainland will continue to drop. Think less than $500 from the East Coast or  the Midwest. Set up a price alert with a tracking app like Hopper and get ready to jump on flights!

Surviving Flight Delays

This holiday season I found myself subject to the mass delays surrounding the bad weather front that hit the northeast a few short days before Christmas. Even as a travel expert, I know that no amount of planning can control the weather,. However, there are ways to be prepared for the worst. So with the extra time due to my flight delay/cancellation, I used this as an opportunity to share some a few of my own tips with all the hardworking news networks on site! 

Have ‘plan B’ ready to roll

I always keep a list of apps that come in handy in case of delays, especially when it comes to needing to rebook flights due to cancellation. You can’t always rely on the airline to get you on the next available flight, or predict when that will be, so you may need to do your own research – and FAST. Apps like hopper are great to have handy on your smartphone, as they will not only be able to compare what airlines are flying and at what prices, but also track these and can let you know when they go up and down and price and when to book them. Predicting future prices for flights and accommodations with 95% recommendation accuracy sure comes in handy when you have to think (and rebook) fast on your feet.

Get Travel Insurance

While most travel insurance policies cover overnight stays, medical expenses, delayed or lost baggage, trip cancellations and airline change fees, most people still opt out of the added travel insurance. However, it can come in handy, especially if you find yourself booking a trip close to any major holidays like Christmas. The trip-focused plans are pretty affordable, but if you travel frequently you want to look into getting an annual travel insurance plan so it’s always there.

Pack prepared

If you are delayed for more than a few hours, airlines tend to hand out food vouchers, and sometimes nearby accommodation, but not always – so it is best to come prepared. Some essentials I suggest include granola bars, a water bottle, wet wipes, a blanket, a neck pillow, medicine, chargers, headphones, earplugs, an eye mask, some basic toiletries, and maybe a clean t-shirt rolled up in your bag! I personally love my Dagne Dover – it has a compartment for every item I travel with!

Keep yourself charged up and have offline options handy

There are some great portable chargers out (unless of course you have a ‘smart’ suitcase) so it’s worth carrying at least one power source in case you don’t find yourself near a pug for a while. You may also find yourself subject to slow airport wifi with hours to kill. Download movies and your favorite sitcoms from Netflix and Amazon Play (which are free if you have a subscription) so you can watch them offline during delays and on long trips. 

Stay CALM

This is probably the hardest thing to do – even I still get stressed when it comes to delays and cancellations. If you experience a delay and need to speak with the airline, stay composed and be polite, as remember, they are going to be the ones to get you on the next flight out. After that, find somewhere sit down, call anyone you need to, and wait it out. If you have lounge access, this is where it comes in handy. Remember, if your not flying, there’s often a good reason for it – which can include your safety in the air!