MONEY Travel

Save With Last-Minute Vacations

Forgot to plan a summer getaway? No worries. Spur-of-the-moment trips are easier than ever to book—and cheap too. Here are a few ideas to try.



  • All-Inclusives

    courtesy of Club Med On the beach at the Club Med Resort at Punta Cana.

    Many resorts resell rooms that were canceled at the last minute, says Benoit Montigny, a director of revenue management for Club Med. If you have a favorite resort chain, follow it on Twitter and Facebook, where you’ll find deals such as one offered recently by Playa Resorts: rooms at its Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall in Jamaica for $355 a night, a 55% savings.

    That said, only 52% of inventory is posted, notes CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg: “A last-minute cancellation isn’t necessarily announced through a website or a clearing house, so call the property directly and use the web as a backup.”

    Booking Sweet Spot: 2-3 weeks

  • Cruises

    courtesy of Norwegian Norwegian Cruise Line

    If the destination is less important than the experience, head to the Caribbean, which accounts for more than one third of all cruise-ship travel from the U.S.  A recent Norwegian Cruise Line’s four-night ­Bahamas trip, available 10 days before departure on ­, went for $348 a person (a 27% savings).

    If you’re looking for a luxury cruise, call the experts. With only two weeks’ notice, Marcella ­Rappoport at Ovation Vacations found a 10-day Oceania sailing from Lisbon for $4,799 per person, 77% off the brochure rate. Cruise-savvy agents can also negotiate extras such as prepaid gratuities, Internet, and shipboard credits.

    Booking sweet spot: 2-4 weeks


  • Packages

    Getty Images

    Work with operators such as Trafalgar and Gate 1, which have web pages for around-the-corner sales. G Adventures recently offered a nine-day ­Morocco trip, booked two weeks before departure, for $1,049 a person, a 25% savings.

    If you use sites like Expedia and Orbitz, think off-peak: Europe in the fall, for example. For long weekends, take Monday off instead of Friday, since Sunday is often the cheapest night at a hotel, says Isar Meitis, president of

    Booking sweet spot: 7-30 days

  • DIY Trips

    If you like planning your own holiday, these tips can help save on rooms and transportation:

    Cars Use your mobile device to search for deals. Companies such as Priceline and Hotwire post some of their of-the-moment offers exclusively through their apps.

    Hotels On, travelers can sell their canceled, nonrefundable hotel rooms, so you often see deals up to 85% off original booking prices.

    Flights Follow the Twitter feed @AirfareWatchDog and Flight Deal’s Facebook page. Confirm prices that seem too good with the airline.

MONEY Travel

9 Vacation Spots That Are Better (and Cheaper) Than the Places You Want to Go

These less-traveled locales offer many of the perks of the big-name hotspots with fewer tourists. Even better, because they're less popular, they're often more affordable.

  • La Paz, Mexico

    Design Pics Inc / Alamy On the water off Espiritu Santo Island.

    INSTEAD OF: Los Cabos

    WHY HERE? La Paz is located on the Sea of Cortez on the Baja Peninsula, and it has the same laid-back vibe as California’s West Coast beach cities. The landscape is spectacular, from the marine-mammal-rich waters to a desert worthy of an Ansel Adams photo. The culinary scene is growing too, with enough upscale restaurants to rival those in Los Cabos, 87 miles (and a $25 shuttle ride) away. One caveat: Go before mid-July. Even the locals flee the August heat.

    Average summer hotel rate: $117 vs. $257 in Los Cabos

  • La Paz, Mexico: Where to Stay & What to Do

    Aurora Photos / Alamy Fruit for sale on Tecelote Beach.

    STAY: A simple room at Hotel Perla, a 1940s landmark with bay views on the Malecón (boardwalk), goes for $75 a night. If you want amenities such as daily room service and an infinity pool, try the Costa Baja Resort & Spa (from $243), which runs 45%-off specials when you book more than 90 days in advance. Overall, the average double-occupancy hotel room in La Paz is $117, less than half what it costs in Los Cabos.

    DO: Sign up for a day dive with PADI diving center Cortez Club ($140). Nearby Los Islotes is known for its sea lion colony; you might even spot schools of hammerhead sharks at Marisla Seamount. If snorkeling is more your speed, bring your gear to the turquoise waters and sandy coves of Balandra, 15 minutes from downtown.

    La Paz offers an increasingly diverse menu of restaurants, from daring fusion to old-school Mexican street food, says editor Tomas Zyber of Get a table for two at Las Tres Vírgenes, where dinner—wood-fire-grilled octopus and expertly prepared steaks—paired with wine costs under $100, Zyber notes. For cheap eats, line up with locals at Chino Tacos (dinner, $4 per person) on Antonio Navarro Street at the corner of Belisario Dominguez. Try the tacos al pastor (spit-grilled pork with cilantro, onions, and pineapple), carne asada, or spicy chorizo.

  • Dublin

    Mikel Bilbao/Firstlight The Temple Bar in the city's cultural corner.

    INSTEAD OF: London

    WHY HERE? Looking for some foreign culture but don’t want to brave a second language? There’s always London. But since it’s the most visited city in Europe, you’ll also find some of the continent’s most expensive hotels there (average cost: $268 a night). And then there’s Dublin. With its small-city feel and Irish charm, the capital is as easy to drink in as a smooth pint of Guinness. Best of all: The dollar is even stronger against the euro (up 23%) in the past year than it is vs. the pound (13%).


  • Dublin: Where to Stay & What to Do

    Firstlight The perfect Irish pairing: shellfish and Guiness.

    STAY: The hip new Dean Hotel (from $138), located downtown, is capped by a beautiful rooftop restaurant. If you don’t mind a 20-minute walk or a cab ride to the city center, opt for a private room ($80) at the Generato Dublin, a design-forward hostel housed in a former Irish folk-dancing hall, located across the River Liffey in Smithfield.

    DO: The Irish will tell you that their literary legacy is every bit as distinguished as the Brits’, and they’ve got the names (Yeats, Beckett, Wilde) to make a case. If you’re in Dublin on June 16, you’ll be lucky enough to see the entire city celebrate native son James Joyce, who set his classic novel Ulysses here on that day.

    You can celebrate a different kind of artistry in the Creative Quarter—South William, Drury, Wicklow, and Exchequer streets—home to many boutiques and a great place to find authentic keepsakes. “Try the Irish Design Shop for tea towels and porcelain birdhouses or, 10 minutes away, Jam Art Factory, where you’ll find prints, artwork, and pottery,” says Emily Westbrooks, author of Delightful Dublin.

    When you’ve worn yourself out, you can rest your feet and your shopping bags at the recently opened Woollen Mills Eating House, serving Roaring Bay mussels and Howth cod (lunch, $25). If you’re looking to splurge, Dublin also has five Michelin-starred restaurants. Jonathan Epstein, president of travel company Celebrated Experiences, suggests Chapter One, where chef Ross Lewis serves up rabbit with Parma ham and cured salmon with Atlantic crab. A four-course dinner is $75. A year ago you’d have paid $97 for the same feast.


  • Palm Springs

    Hal Bergman/Getty A classic vista.

    INSTEAD OF: Los Angeles

    WHY HERE? During the winter this city serves as Los Angeles’ playground, filled with weekenders taking advantage of the posh resorts and haute design scene. At this time of year you can have it almost to yourself. Summer in this desert oasis isn’t for everyone: The average June temperature is 87° F and highs can hit 110° (115° in August, when you really don’t want to visit). But there are plenty of ways to beat the heat, says Françoise Rhodes of, whether it’s a morning hike through the nearby canyons or a lazy day by the pool.

    Summer hotel rate: $105 vs. $156 in Los Angeles

  • Palm Springs: Where to Stay & What to Do

    Lisa Corson/Gallerystock Cabazon Dinosaurs Park.

    STAY: At the Triada Palm Springs, a Spanish-hacienda-style property with a cabana-lined pool, rooms start at $109 a night, 48% less than in high season. The Avalon Hotel Palm Springs, fresh from a major renovation, is set amid palm-dotted courtyards, burbling fountains, and three swimming pools, and has a top-notch spa. Rooms start at $150; at the hotel’s sister property, Avalon Beverly Hills, they start at $279 for the same dates.

    DO: The Indian Canyons, known for their stunning rock formations, make for a great morning hike, says Katy Carrier, founder of Palm Springs Style magazine. For shopping, head to the Uptown Design District, where you’ll find furniture and home decor items. Bon Vivant is known for its vintage glassware, while Just Modern has a large selection of mid-century-inspired furnishings and artwork, Carrier says. Palm Springs has also established its own film scene. The main film festival is in January, but from June 16 to 22 is the International ShortFest, which showcases more than 300 short films from more than 50 countries. When you’re ready for dinner, try the lobster ravioli at the decades-old Johnny Costa’s Ristorante (dinner, $50), says Rhodes. If you’re hungry for some true California roadside kitsch, pack a picnic and head to Cabazon Dinosaurs, about 20 miles west of the city.

  • Naxos, Greece

    Age Fotostock/Alamy The Temple of Apollo arch on Palatia Islet.

    INSTEAD OF: Santorini or Mykonos

    WHY HERE? Naxos is anchored in the Aegean about halfway between Santorini and Mykonos, but it might as well be on another planet. The biggest of Greece’s Cycladic islands, Naxos is studded with lush mountains and valleys polka-dotted by white-washed homes, all surrounded by a ribbon of gorgeous beaches. It’s the kind of place that’s still rural enough to spot the occasional donkey trotting down a cobblestone street, not to mention acres of tiered vineyards and olive groves. Of course that means that just about every restaurant you find has a legitimate claim as a farm-to-table outpost.

    Cruise-ship dockings a year: 16 vs. 512 in Santorini

  • Naxos, Greece: Where to Stay & What to Do

    Kartouchken/Alamy A local pottery store in the town of Apiranthos.

    STAY: Accommodations start at $25 a night, topping out around $360, whereas Santorini’s prices start at $90 and skyrocket to over $1,000, on Rooms at the Pension Sofi, a cheerful blue-and-white guesthouse draped in bougainvillea vines, cost only $39 per person (two-night minimum). The 30 spacious rooms at the four-star Lagos Mare Hotel, with a pool, bar, and sea views, are a steal at $120, says Mina Agnos, a Greek travel expert with Travelive.

    DO: The best way to explore Naxos is on foot. Agnos can set up a Naxian Apollo walking tour (from $38), which tracks the island’s history from ancient times to the present and includes town visits, archaeological sites, and a trip to the island’s collection of kouros statues, which date back to the 8th century B.C. Afterward, grab a waterfront table at Geomilo, which serves traditional Naxian dishes such as Kleftiko of Za, made with local lamb, and cod with a garlic puree (dinner, $20).


  • Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

    Aaron Peterson/Alamy Kayaking under one of the park's famous arches.

    INSTEAD OF: Traverse City, Mich.

    WHY HERE? There are 407 national parks, and while it’s not the most celebrated, Michigan’s Pictured Rocks was the country’s first National Lakeshore. The park sits on 42 jaw-dropping miles of Lake Superior coastline that’s studded with eerie sand dunes, romantic waterfalls, and a stately lighthouse. But it’s the multicolored sandstone cliffs, which seem to change color with every flicker of sunshine, that are the main attraction. That and the price of admission: It’s free.

  • Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore: Where to Stay & What to Do

    Terry Donnelly/Alamy The Au Sable Light Station is still in use.

    STAY: Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is rugged territory; enjoy the park by roughing it. Pictured Rocks has three main camping grounds. Twelvemile Beach ($16), the most popular, features lake views through the trees. If you’d rather rest your head in a room with four walls, Munising, Mich., is about two miles away and features several family-owned properties. The Sunset Motel on the Bay (from $89) has free Wi-Fi and rooms with kitchenettes. In Traverse City hotels average over $150 a night.

    DO: Get your bearings on one of Pictured Rocks’ iconic hikes, suggests Susan Reece, the park’s chief of interpretation and education. On the Chapel Falls trek, you’ll weave through beech and maple trees en route to cascading waterfalls and Chapel Rock, which looks like an open-air temple (albeit one with a pine tree growing out of the roof). You can also follow the 1½-mile hike to the Au Sable Light Station, on the edge of a picnic-worthy beach. Keep an eye out for deer, beaver, and other critters. The best way to see the park’s dramatic coastline is from the water: On a three-hour tour with Pictured Rocks Cruises ($37), a local park ranger will explain the area’s geology and history as you pass stunning formations such as the Painted Coves and Lover’s Leap.


  • Hanoi

    Kaaarel/Getty One of the city's many ancient temples.

    INSTEAD OF: Bangkok

    WHY HERE? At a time when so many Southeast Asian capitals are banking on what’s new, Hanoi still embraces its rich history and communist roots. True, the bustling city has its share of skyscrapers and mopeds, but you’ll also find French-inspired architecture and food—bonjour, bánh mì baguettes!—in its large Old Quarter. This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, making a visit to Ho Chi Minh’s stilt house or the National Museum of Vietnamese History especially timely.

    Annual tourists to Vietnam: 7.8 million vs. 16 million in Bangkok

  • Hanoi: Where to Stay & What to Do

    Jonathan Siegel/Getty Preparing CafÉ NÂu DA, traditional Vietnamese coffee.

    STAY: Rooms at the recently renovated 80-room Boss Legend Hotel start at $82. The five-star Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi (from $225), housed in a sumptuous 1901 French colonial–style building, has hosted Charlie Chaplin, Graham Greene, and “Hanoi Jane” herself—Jane Fonda.

    DO: Make the city’s Old Quarter, which dates back to the 11th century, your home base. At Q Cafe—or one of the hundreds of other coffee shops—you’ll find locals sitting on squat stools sipping café phe da, or Vietnamese iced coffee ($1) made with espresso and condensed milk. From there you can window-shop along the bustling city streets, where vendors sell anything from hardware supplies and birdcages to fine art. Stop in Ginkgo for graphic-printed T-shirts before slurping down a northern Vietnam staple, beef-based pho, at Tuyen Pho Cam ($3).

    When you’re ready to see a bit of the coastline, head to Ha Long Bay, three hours east of the city. Ha Long means “descending dragon,” and the 1,600 islets jutting out of the Gulf of Tonkin do look like the moss-covered spikes on a submerged water beast. Most hotels offer day or overnight excursions; Boss Legend’s day trip (from $45) includes lunch and kayaking.

  • Salt Lake City

    John Pulsipher/Firstlight Downtown, framed by the Wasatch Mountains.

    INSTEAD OF: Denver

    WHY HERE? Salt Lake isn’t just a jumping-off point for skiers. Those snowcapped Wasatch Mountains also frame an urban playground that’s become home to a lively art, restaurant, and cocktail scene.

    Daily rental car rates: from $28 vs. $45 in Denver


  • Salt Lake City: Where to Stay & What to Do

    A. Barber Fly fishing near Salt Lake City, Utah.

    STAY: Downtown has the best hotel selection. The Inn on the Hill (from $150) features 12 unique rooms and serves a complimentary hot breakfast. The Marriott Courtyard doesn’t have the same boutique charm, but it was just renovated this year and rates start at $99. Hotels in Salt Lake are a bargain in general: $106 a night vs. $136 a night in Denver.

    DO: To sip your way through the city, head to the up-and-coming Sugar House neighborhood, full of early-1900s cottages and bungalows. The Sugar House Distillery, which makes small-batch vodkas and rums, offers free tours. Shades of Pale, a popular Utah Brewery, also opened a new facility three miles west in SoDo (South Downtown). If you’re looking to do some shopping, the Local Colors of Utah gallery is a co-op where you’ll find pottery, photography, jewelry, and paintings from area artists. When you’ve worked up an appetite, try the Fresco Italian Cafe (dinner, $35), where dishes such as seared polenta and sun-choke agnolotti are complemented by a spot-on Italian wine list, says Josh Rosenthal of

    There are also plenty of worthy day trips. New or expert anglers can sign up with Western Rivers Fly Fisher (from $315 for two), on the Provo River, about 50 miles to the southeast. The drive through the Wasatch Mountains alone is well worth it, especially when the wildflowers are in bloom. On cars rent for $28 a day in Salt Lake. In Denver, the average is $45 a day.

  • Cape Breton, Canada

    Alamy One of the residents of Highlands National Park.

    INSTEAD OF: New England

    WHY HERE? Cape Breton, a 4,000-square-mile island that juts out into the Atlantic about 650 miles northeast of Portland, Maine, is known for its untamed coastline, charming inns, and deeply rooted Celtic culture. The island receives about 365,000 visitors annually; Cape Cod alone squeezes in more than 4 million. Just crossing the Canadian border will fatten your wallet, as loons have dropped 14% in value against the U.S. dollar over the past year.

    Average hotel rate: $89 vs. $192 on Cape Cod

  • Cape Breton, Canada: Where to Stay & What to Do

    Barrett & MacKay/Corbis It's easy to see how the Bras d'Or (arms of gold) lake got its name.

    STAY: The waterfront town of Baddeck makes a great launching point for the surrounding countryside. Hospitality options include cottages—from $67 a night on—and cozy family-owned properties such as the Baddeck Heritage House (from $91), built in the 1860s.

    DO: Get out on the water. On half-day trips (from $55) with North River Kayak Tours, you’ll paddle alongside the giant sugar maples and peer up to scout for American bald eagle nests. If you’d prefer to stay on land, drive the cliff-hugging Cabot Trail, the 185-mile road that makes a loop around the island’s northwestern region and offers prime whale-watching pit stops. Want to get even closer to a great ocean mammal? Sign up for a snorkeling trip with Captain Zodiac (from $40) in Cheticamp, located on the island’s northwestern border, to bob alongside minke, pilot, and fin whales.

    For dinner, Angelo Spinazzola of North River Kayak suggests the Bitehouse, a 12-seat restaurant located in a converted farmhouse that serves seasonal dishes such as scallops with caramelized cauliflower and grilled zucchini with local cheese ($40).

    Average hotel rate: $89 vs. $192 on Cape Cod

  • Aruba

    Courtesy of boardwalk small hotel Aruba Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba.

    INSTEAD OF: Cayman Islands

    WHY HERE? While Aruba has long been on Caribbean travelers’ radars, its 66% hotel occupancy rate (in summer) is much lower than the rates for St. Lucia (84%) and the Caymans (76%). The island is also undergoing an impressive $1 billion investment in new hotels, public works, and an energy plan to be fossil fuel–free by 2020. Aruba is increasingly accessible too, with Houston recently becoming the 12th North American city to introduce a direct flight to the island.

    Average summer hotel cost: $197 vs. $257 in the Caymans

  • Aruba: What to See & What to Do

    Courtesy of Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba

    STAY: Aruba’s range of accommodations means you don’t need to break the bank to stay in a lovely place, though an ocean view might cost you. You could opt for the Tamarijn Aruba (all-inclusive from $450 for two; three- night minimum) on Divi Beach, a waterfront property that also has a spa and a golf course. Further inland, at the charming Boardwalk Aruba, located in a coconut grove, casita rates start at $195 a night, says Susan Campbell, a senior writer for Aruba Nights. Guests also have free access to Moomba club on Palm Beach, as well as free lounge chairs and snorkeling equipment.

    DO: In capital city Oranjestad, you can fuel up on empanadas stuffed with Gouda and ham at Mi Boca Dushi (lunch, $5) before renting bikes from Aruba Active Vacations ($25 per day). Cycle along the waterfront’s new 10-mile boardwalk or, if you’re looking for an empty stretch of sand, pedal to windswept Arashi Beach, close to the California Lighthouse.

    On the island’s south side, you can pair sunset views with the catch of the day at Zee Rover’s ($20), a fisherman’s hangout turned restaurant, suggests Matt Boland, the executive chef of Aruba’s Divi Resorts. Specialties include red snapper and wahoo served with plantains, pan bati (a cornmeal pancake), and hot sauce made with papaya and peppers.

MONEY Travel

Europe Just Got Even Cheaper for U.S. Travelers

The greenback is on a roll, gaining superstrength against the euro and other continental currencies. Go this spring to cash in on the mighty dollar.

On Wednesday, the euro hit a near 12-year low against the dollar. While there is a downside to the so-called “currency wars,” one immediate consequence for American travelers is that visiting Europe just got a little cheaper.

If you’re planning a getaway this spring, here are three destinations that offer great bang for the buck. Of course, even with a strong dollar, savvy travelers can make the most of the exchange rate with these smart moves:

Stick with the local currency. Refuse offers to pay in dollars when you use your credit card, says Matt Schulz of Those transactions rarely give you the best rate.

Skip foreign fees. Choose a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard from Barclaycard are good options.

Find a partner. Seek out your bank’s international partners, where you’ll pay fewer fees to use your ATM card. Say you use Bank of America. Try BNP Paribas or Deutsche Bank.

  • Krakow

    St. Mary's Church at Main market square in the old town of Krakow in Poland.
    Peter Probst—Alamy St. Mary's Church at Main market square in the old town of Krakow.

    Poland isn’t part of the eurozone, but Kraków is still a good deal, coming in at No. 4 on the website Price of Travel’s 2015 ranking of affordable continental cities. This spring, though, U.S. visitors will find even better prices, with the dollar up 20% or so against the zloty over the past 12 months. Rooms at the Hotel Gródek in the charming old town start at $132 in April, down $167 from a year ago. Plus, you’ll slice a few dollars off the city’s already reasonable activities, like Chopin concerts at the Bonerowski Palace ($15, vs. $18 in 2014).

  • Paris

    View of the Louvre pyramid from inside the Louvre museum in Paris, France.
    Chris Sorensen—Gallery Stock View of the Louvre pyramid from inside the Louvre museum in Paris.

    Even the notoriously expensive City of Light is now more affordable thanks to the strong dollar, says Ellison Poe of Poe Travel. Take the Hôtel Luxembourg Parc in the central Saint-Germain-des-Prés district. Rooms for April cost $293, vs. $357 a year ago. Still too pricey? Try the outer 10th and 11th arrondissements, hot areas for up-and-coming hotels and restaurants. At Generator Paris, a new, design-centric hostel in the 10th, private rooms are $55 this spring (an identically priced room would have cost $68 last April). Use your savings to splurge on an elegant meal, like the $62 tasting menu at the trendy Bones eatery.

  • Athens

    Athens, Greece. The Parthenon on the Acropolis.
    Ken Welsh—Getty Images The Parthenon on the Acropolis.

    In general, the currency swings haven’t done much to make flights more affordable. Fares to Greece, however, have been reasonable lately, as airlines offer bargains to lure travelers during the spring shoulder season. “I see deals like $800 flights on Turkish Airlines from New York or $900 KLM tickets from LAX,” says Jeff Klee of For a hotel, try Athens Gate, overlooking the Temple of Olympian Zeus, says Mina Agnos of Travelive. Rooms start at $148 in April (vs. $206 in 2014).

MONEY Travel

3 Affordable All-Inclusive Beach Getaways

Fantasizing about a warm-weather getaway? All-inclusive resorts offer sun, surf, and savings.

If winter weather has you thinking about a tropical getaway, a resort with a flat daily rate can mean major savings. But choosing an all-inclusive resort is trickier than picking a regular hotel.

On the upside, a flat rate can save you big money over paying for all your meals and activities individually. And paying in advance means less vacation time spent planning and more time relaxing. But many “all-inclusives” aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Here’s how to make sure you don’t get nickel-and-dimed:

1. Size it up. What’s your priority? A resort with more than 200 rooms will have more amenities—and is likely to be cheaper—whereas smaller properties tend to have better service and food.

2. Mind the “extras.” Even at many all-inclusives, you may have to shell out for extras like golf, spa treatments, and off-property outings. To save up to 15%, try booking those activities in advance.

3. Comparison shop. Buying an airfare package from the resort could save you 5%, says Janet McLaughlin of Provident Travel. That said, always price flights yourself before committing.

If you’re thinking about a last-minute spring break getaway, these three all-inclusive resorts offer sand, surf, and great value.


  • Maya Tulum

    Courtesy of Maya Tulum Resort

    Best for: Spa lovers

    For an escape that combines healthy living with a healthy dose of pampering, try a package from the 46-cabana Maya Tulum, an hour and a half south of Cancún (from $277 per person in March, five nights minimum). The price, which includes fresh seafood meals and twice-daily yoga classes, handily beats other wellness-themed resorts in the region, says Karen Benson of Camelback Travel. The Zoëtry Villa Rolandi on Isla Mujeres, for instance, costs $340 a night. Booking a full week? The resort will throw in two spa treatments, a $160 savings.

  • Club Med Sandpiper Bay

    Courtesy of Club Med Sandpiper Bay

    Best for: Families

    Good luck finding a resort packed with more activities than this sprawling, family-friendly Florida Club Med (from $160 per adult in March; $70 per child age 4 to 14; younger kids free). While kids paint in the art studio, swing from the flying trapeze, or hang out in the teen lounge, you can take a golf or sailing lesson. “You’re saving hundreds compared to doing these activities individually,” says Margie Hand of Andavo Travel. Sailing classes nearby on St. Lucie River, for one, are $250. For an extra $85 a day (booked in advance), the Sandpiper also offers childcare for kids as young as 4 months.


  • Chic Punta Cana by Royalton

    Courtesy of Chic Punta Cana

    Best for: Couples

    Located on the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, the adults-only Chic resort (March rates from $386 for two) is the rare Punta Cana property to offer a luxury getaway at an affordable rate. To save even more, go in April, when prices drop 23%. Either way, you and your significant other can spend your visit playing tennis, lounging on the gorgeous beach, and trying out the slew of bars and restaurants. Or just opt for some alone time: 24-hour room service is included.

MONEY Travel

A Month-by-Month Guide to the Best Places to Travel in 2015

Use our new travel calendar to make this your best vacation year yet.

Cold weather got you down? Perhaps you’d like to get away someplace warm this winter. Or maybe you’re already thinking about your summer vacation destination. No matter when you’d like to escape, this 12-month calendar will help you find the best getaway—and the best deals. (Also check out these travel resolutions that can help you save time, money, and hassle all year long.)

  • January: Cruise the Caribbean

    Sun Seekers aboard The Caribbean Princess
    Jordan Confino—Flickr Sun seekers aboard the Caribbean Princess

    Why Now: January is the ideal time to sail the balmy Caribbean, says Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor of “You avoid the December holiday crowds, and pricing is quite affordable,” she says. Indeed, many cruises are 50% or more off peak rates.

    What to Do: For a small island and beach-oriented trip, book a sailing in the eastern Caribbean, which includes destinations like Turks and Caicos, as well as the British and U.S. Virgin Islands. Or, if you prefer to visit ancient ruins, scuba-dive, or do some ziplining, check out the western route, where you may stop in Playa del Carmen, Mexico; Roatán, Honduras; and Belize City, Belize.

    How to Save: Starting at $309 per person, Princess Cruises’ four-night eastern Caribbean trip, which departs Jan. 22 from Fort Lauderdale, is up to 50% off its holiday price. (All rates are as of January 8.) The ship offers a poolside movie theater, history lectures, and yoga, and stops in the Bahamas and Princess Cays, the liner’s 40-acre private island.

    For a more luxurious pick, Peter Lloyd of Century Travel recommends a 10-day western Caribbean sailing on the Oceania Riviera. Departing from Miami on January 14, the ship stops in Key West, Cozumel, and Belize City. Onboard, indulge in a treatment at the Canyon Ranch spa and dine in any of nine restaurants. The trip starts at $2,699, about half off holiday and summer rates.

  • February: Ski Lesser-Known Mountains

    A snowboarder enjoys the fresh powder at Montana's Bridger Bowl
    Ben Pierce— A snowboarder enjoys the fresh powder at Montana's Bridger Bowl.

    Why Now: Skiing on the edge of the season can mean bargains, but it’s hard to predict whether the snow will play along. Instead, pick a smaller-name resort in-season; you’ll find reliable conditions and savings of 20% or more (avoid Presidents’ Day weekend).

    What to Do: Some of the country’s best powder falls in Colorado, Utah, and Montana. Fortunately, you don’t need to pay through the nose to ski it. Just find the right mountain, buy your lift tickets online and in advance, and go hit those slopes.

    How to Save: In Colorado, try Monarch Mountain, three hours from Denver and located in a microclimate that gets hammered with snow, says Colorado-based travel writer Jayme Moye. Advance lift tickets start at $57 a day, vs. $110 for Vail.

    Thinking about Park City? Visit Ogden’s Powder Mountain, which gets over 500 inches of natural snow a year, instead. Lift tickets are $69 (vs. $105 in Park City)—or free when you book a package at the Ben Lomond Suites (from $144).

    Big Sky, an hour south of Bozeman, is Montana’s most high-profile resort. However, many locals prefer to head north to Bridger Bowl, where lift tickets are just $52. (They’re $103 at Big Sky.) Plus, since you’re only 20 minutes from the city, you can stay in Bozeman, where boutique properties like the C’mon Inn start at an affordable $99 a night.

  • March: Escape the Spring Breakers in Oahu

    Couple look across the Pacific from Makapuu Trail
    Courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Autho—Tor Johnson A view of the Pacific from Makapuu Trail

    Why Now: Since many schools go on spring break in March, it’s a tough month for deals in fair-weather destinations. The Hawaiian island of Oahu is a surprising exception. Waikiki, the popular beach neighborhood in Honolulu, on the island’s south side, sees an average rate dip of 10%, vs. July and August, according to hotel research firm STR.

    What to Do: Oahu is Hawaii’s most populous island, but you can find open countryside and quiet beaches outside Honolulu, says Marilyn Clark with Lighthouse Travel. Take the five-mile hike at Kaena Point, the westernmost tip of the island, where you’ll see albatross and whales.

    Check out free events such as the Honolulu Festival (March 6-8), a cultural celebration that highlights Hawaiian art, dance, and music. Stay up for the Honolulu Night Market on March 21, when local designers and chefs line the streets of the city’s Kakaako district with food and fashion stalls.

    How to Save: Rooms with partial ocean views at Honolulu’s Sheraton Princess Kaiulani are $225, half off the high season. Farther inland, rates are even lower: the Coconut Waikiki hotel, a 10-minute walk from the beach, has rooms from $169 (vs. $209).

    Visiting in March could mean airfare savings as well: As of early December, nonstop flights from Los Angeles to Honolulu started at $660 in March, vs. $810 in July.

  • April: Hike Peru’s Sacred Valley

    Andean weavers in Cuyuni, a village outside of Cuzco
    courtesy of Paragon Expeditions Andean weavers in Cuyuni, a village outside of Cuzco

    Why Now: April marks the end of the low season in southern Peru’s popular Sacred Valley region. If you’ve always dreamed of seeing the sun rise over Machu Picchu, now’s a great time. April’s short but frequent showers limit crowds and keep prices slightly lower than usual. Plus, the markets will be overflowing with harvest-time bounty, and the countryside is vibrant from the past few months of rain, says Holly Wissler, a trip expert for tour operator Paragon Expeditions.

    What to Do: Obviously, you must visit Machu Picchu, the Incan emperor’s estate dating to the 15th century. A limited number of people are allowed in daily, so go with a tour group or buy your entrance tickets at least three months in advance.

    In Cuzco, the region’s largest city, enjoy historic sites like the Plaza de Armas, which dates to the Incas, and there are more modest delights too, like a glass of chicha, a fermented-corn drink, at Picanteria and Chicheria Valia.

    How to Save: Paragon’s eight-day Machu Picchu and Sacred Valley tour is $3,298, $500 less than in peak season. You’ll tour the iconic ruins, meet Andean weavers, and visit the strangely beautiful tiered salt mines outside of Cuzco.

    Another eight-day trip, the Classic Machu Picchu from Knowmad Adventures, is a manageable $2,160 in April ($200 off regular price). Standout outings include a visit to Sacsayhuaman, an Inca fortress of massive rock walls, just north of Cuzco, and a chance to browse through the artisan goods at the Sunday Urcos Market.

  • May: Safari in Kenya

    Rhinos in Nakuru National Park in Kenya.
    Luis Davilla—First Light Rhinos in Nakuru National Park in Kenya.

    Why Now: May, the tail end of the green, or rainy, season, is one of the best and most affordable months to take a safari. While the dry landscapes of high season make it easier to spot big game, visitors arriving this month will enjoy wildflowers and lush scenery, says Kent Redding of Africa Adventure Consultants. Even better, he says: “It’s birthing season, so you’ll see baby animals.”

    What to Do: Safari, of course! Depending where in Kenya you go, and what outfitter you choose, you could see everything from elephants and rhinos to zebras and impalas. Another important consideration: Will you travel by land or air? Air is speedier and more convenient, while staying earthbound will save you the biggest bucks.

    How to Save: For a splurge, pick Africa Adventure Consultants’ Kenya Unforgettable safari, a private nine-day trip by small plane. You’ll stay at camps such as Amboseli National Park, famous for its huge elephant herds, and Samburu National Reserve, where you’ll see northern species such as Grevy’s zebra and the reticulated giraffe. This once-in-a-lifetime getaway totals out at $7,494 per person, a $1,785 savings from the high season.

    For a more manageable price tag, opt for smarTours’ 12-day Kenya Wildlife Safari; it’s $3,599 for May departures, $1,000 below peak season. This group trip drives from camp to camp, visiting gems such as the Maasai Mara National Reserve and Lake Nakuru National Park, home to a rhino reserve and massive flamingo flocks.

    Airfares, too, tend to be affordable in May, according to flight search site Recently, roundtrip flights from Chicago to Nairobi started at $765, vs. $1,542 in July.

  • June: Road-Trip Along Coastal Maine

    The first rays of sun after sunrise reach the Portland Head Light, built in 1791, which protects mariners entering Casco Bay. The lighthouse is located in Fort Williams Park, Cape Elizabeth, Maine, USA.
    Clarence Holmes—First Light Portland Head Light, a historic lighthouse

    Why Now: While much of New England is shifting into summer mode by June, it still feels like spring in northerly Maine, with highs in the low 70s, long sunny days, and fields of wildflowers coming into bloom. Vacationers won’t start flooding into the state in earnest until July, so you’ll find fewer crowds and reasonable prices. At many of Maine’s coastal lodges, June rates are up to 35% lower than in peak summer, says Greg Dugal of the Maine Innkeepers Association.

    What to Do: Take advantage of the relatively clear roads with a drive along scenic Route 1, which runs up the coast toward New Brunswick. Not sure where to start? The 158-mile stretch between Portland and Acadia National Park is particularly pretty. Along the way, be sure to put down several of the state’s famous lobster rolls (Hilary Nangle, author of the Moon Maine guidebook, recommends McLoons Lobster Shack on Spruce Head Island).

    Make time for a couple of leisurely detours. Stop in Boothbay to see the lovely Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens ($16). Further north, drive down St. George peninsula to take in the views from Marshall Point lighthouse.

    How to Save: Point Lookout Resort, located in Northport, knocks $45 off the peak-summer price of its gorgeous pine cabins, complete with porches and fireplaces (from $206). In Rockport, check out the Samoset Resort. The property, on 230 waterfront acres, has an 18-hole golf course, spa, and pool, and a wide range of outdoor sports courts. June rates start at $239, compared with $339 in August.

  • July: Visit Mexico’s Heartland

    Inmaculada Concepcion Church, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
    Luis Davilla—First Light A sunset view of San Miguel de Allende

    Why Now: While you could also head to Mexico’s Caribbean coast for July deals, San Miguel de Allende, located in the Bajío Mountains, is a better choice. Rather than suffer the humidity of the coast, you’ll enjoy daytime temps in the mid-70s and cool evenings. Still, tourism to the area does slack off in the summer, so there’s plenty of cheap lodging to be had.

    What to Do: San Miguel is famous for its colonial architecture. Get your design bearings with the House & Garden tour (Sundays, $20), which takes travelers inside many of San Miguel’s historic homes, suggests Zachary Rabinor, CEO of Journey Mexico. The city is also home to a range of superb restaurants, serving up everything from traditional enchiladas to newer spins on the classics, like short ribs in mole sauce. Then there’s the street food: you’ll find cheap eats—bean soup and stewed pork or chicken ($4) at Mercado el Nigromante, a relatively tourist-free market, says Alberto Aveleyra of Artisans of Time tours. For gifts, visit Mercado Ignacio Ramírez for brass handicrafts.

    How to Save: For an ultra-affordable stay, book Casa Gutiérrez, a colorful guesthouse where rooms with private baths start at $32, down more than 40% from spring rates. According to, you’ll get the best fares to Mexico by booking three months out. And don’t forget to check fares into Mexico City, three hours away, as well as the closer Querétaro airport.

  • August: Unwind in the Maldives

    A sea turtle in the Maldives
    Courtesy of Coco Bodu Hithi A sea turtle in the Maldives

    Why Now: This island nation, off the tip of India, is one of the world’s most striking—and expensive—vacation spots. During the summer rainy season, though, resort prices drop by 30% to 40% and some hotels start throwing in free extras, says Justin Parkinson, a Maldives specialist with Linara Travel. While travelers can expect three to five showers a week in August, he says, storms are typically short and clear quickly.

    What to Do: The diving and snorkeling in the Maldives are world-class. The crystal-clear waters are home to whale sharks, rays, sea turtles, and more. In most cases, your resort will arrange for a dive (typically $80 to $150).

    How to Save: Is staying in a private overwater bungalow on your bucket list? Seven nights at Coco Bodu Hithi, located on an island in the northern atoll, costs $4,900—still a whopping sum, but more than 30% cheaper than in high season. All villas are tricked out with their own terraces and private pools.

    Guesthouses, legalized in the Maldives in 2011, are a more affordable alternative, says founder Raki Bench. He suggests the Arena Lodge on Maafushi, a South Malé atoll, priced at $119 a night, including meals and snorkeling gear. A caveat: The Maldives is a Muslim country, so alcohol is banned in residential areas, and people cover up on public beaches. However, many guesthouses have day rates with resorts (from $30), where guests can have a cocktail and break out their swimwear.

  • September: Hit the Beach on the Emerald Coast

    Riding bikes on the watersound boardwalk
    Jean Allsopp Riding bikes on the watersound boardwalk

    Why Now: There are few places more picturesque than Florida’s Emerald Coast, especially the section edged by Highway 30A, east of Destin. The 28-mile road links a series of sugar-white sand beaches and manicured towns, both of which are packed throughout the summer months. But come September the families clear out, prompting hotel prices to drop and leaving you plenty of room to enjoy the clear blue-green ocean and 80° days.

    What to Do: Explore the various coastal towns, each with its own vibe. In Seaside, known for its pastel houses (you may recognize them from The Truman Show, which was filmed here), visit Modica Market to stock up on essentials. Then, stroll to the beach for a pleasantly sandy picnic. For a more active afternoon, hike along dune-flanked trails in deer lake State Park (entrance fee: $3), next to WaterSound Beach. Nearby Rosemary Beach is known for its New Orleans–style houses and charming shops.

    How to Save: Lodging prices typically dip 10% to 20% in September. For a splurge, rent a one-bedroom cottage in Seaside, where starting rates fall 17% in September to $350 a night. Or choose one of the area’s affordable inns. Rooms at the Hibiscus Coffee and Guesthouse in Santa Rosa Beach start at $125, down 15% over August rates. Plus, you’ll get a dynamite free breakfast; past visitors rave about the cinnamon-roll French toast and spinach frittatas.

  • October: Tour Artsy Toronto

    Toronto downtown panorama view from Centre Island, restaurant in foreground.
    Andrew Rubtsov—Alamy Toronto downtown panorama view from Centre Island, restaurant in foreground.

    Why Now: Fall temperatures can be cool in Toronto (think highs in the low 60s), but for culture vultures, October is an ideal time to visit. Oct. 3 is Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, a contemporary arts festival when cultural institutions, from museums to artist-run centers, open their doors and offer free access to their collections. Plus, arrive before mid-month and you’ll catch some beautiful fall foliage.

    What to Do: Learn your way around with a free walking tour of downtown, offered by the Royal Ontario Museum. Or, for something a bit more neighborhoody, explore the city’s Queen West district, known for its galleries and independent boutiques, says art consultant and city guide Betty Ann Jordan. While you’re there, be sure to check out the Stephen Bulger Gallery, where you’ll see historical and contemporary photographs by the likes of Vivian Maier and André Kertész. The space includes a 50-seat theater and hosts free films on Saturdays at 3 p.m.

    Music fans should also plan to visit the steel-and-glass Richard Bradshaw amphitheatre, which hosts biweekly performances by the Canadian Opera Company.

    For a break from the city, take in the fall colors on Centre Island, a residential isle just a 15-minute ferry ride ($7) from downtown.

    How to Save: In October, hotel rates dip by 10% or more compared with the summer high season. Rates at the 586-room InterContinental, for example, are 30% lower at $166. At the Gladstone Hotel, a redbrick Victorian on Queen Street West, industrial-style rooms with exposed brick walls start at $131 (vs. $197).

  • November: Take In Savannah’s Southern Charm

    A row of classic Savannah homes.
    Bill Stamatis—Getty Images/iStockphoto A row of classic Savannah homes.

    Why Now: Savannah is best known for its 19th-century architecture and oak-lined streets. However, the city also has an impressive modern design scene, thanks in large part to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), which has campus buildings all over town. The crowds that flood the city earlier in the year start to thin in November, yet the weather stays pleasant, with highs in the low 70s.

    What to Do: Immerse yourself in the region’s design history with a walking tour from Jonathan Stalcup, founder of architectural Savannah. His in-depth itineraries ($30) detail Savannah’s progression from Georgian buildings (when we loved the English) to Greek Revival mansions (when we loathed the English).

    The city is also a shoppers’ paradise, stocked with one-of-a-kind delights, says editor Heather Henley of Check out Satchel for unique leather handbags and Folklorico for crafts from a range of countries.

    Finally, be sure to sample the city’s culinary scene, which ranges from Low Country classics to newer additions, like Florence, an Italian spot recommended by Stefanie Dasher, who blogs about the city on “Try the black bucatini pasta with a pork sausage ragu ($20).”

    How to Save: Savannah’s popularity as a convention destination keeps hotel prices relatively stable, but, according to STR, the average rate does slide 10% in November as tourists head to even warmer climes. Look carefully, and you’ll find more impressive deals: At Brice, for instance, a new property with four- poster beds and a chic, all-white library, rates start at $179, down from a peak of $399. The no-frills Holiday Inn express, ideally located in the historic district, has rooms from $125 (vs. $172 in April).

  • December: Spend the Holidays in Madrid

    A giant Christmas tree illuminates the Puerta del Sol in the centre of Madrid.
    Gerard Julien—AFP/Getty Images A giant Christmas tree illuminates the Puerta del Sol in the centre of Madrid.

    Why Now: Madrid rings out the year in high style. Serrano, a top shopping street, shows off lights and festive window displays, and the city’s many churches set up glowing nativity scenes, says Virginia Irurita, founder of travel company Made for Spain. Madrid is already a steal compared with other European capitals (the average hotel rate is about $100, vs. $179 in Rome), and lodging rates dip 20% in December.

    What to Do: Get in the holiday spirit with a choral or organ performance at the Almudena Cathedral or one of the free Christmas concerts hosted by the Prado Museum, says Irurita. Then, indulge in the other thing Madrileños worship—food—at the cozy new Ultramarinos Quintín, part market, part restaurant. Don’t miss the bacalao-stuffed croquettes, shrimp, and fried potatoes.

    Shopping for holiday gifts? Skip the weekend crowds at the city’s famous Sunday Rastro flea market; the best vendors are open all week long, says Madrid-based journalist Andrew Ferren. Among his favorites: La Recova, which carries home-decor items, and la Brocanterie, the place to find mid-century furnishings. Afterward, duck into Lhardy for a cup of hot caldo, or bouillon, mixed with sherry, Ferren says.

    How to Save: For affordable accommodations, check out, a Madrid-based chain of unique properties throughout the city. Simple double rooms at Room Mate’s centrally located Mario hotel cost $73 in December, compared with $98 in summer. Planning a holiday splurge? Opt for Urso Hotel & Spa, housed in a former palace. The property has gotten a lot of attention for its elegant custom furnishings and hydrotherapy spa pool. Rates start at $205, down about 20% from March.

    Read next:
    6 Ways to Be a Savvier Traveler in 2015

MONEY Travel

6 Ways to Be a Savvier Traveler in 2015

Roy Hsu—Getty Images

This year, resolve to be the smartest traveler you can be. Start with these strategies.

1. Get carded. Thinking about applying for a travel rewards credit card—or switching the one you have? Check out the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite, which lets you put your points toward any type of travel you book, rather than limiting you to a single airline or hotel chain.

2. Check your miles. If you bank your frequent-flier points with a single airline, review its latest policies, says Ryan Lile of the Frequent Flyer Academy. United and Delta, for example, have altered their programs this year, reducing the value for many members. You may want to switch.

3. Be promiscuous. Sign up for every major loyalty program (including car rental firms). They’re free and may provide perks.

4. Reap the rewards. Airlines free up more award seats as the departure date nears, so try booking about a month out, says Brian Kelly of Just remember: Many carriers charge extra for booking within 21 days of travel.

5. Search on Sunday. Use Sundays to research flights. “It’s the best day of the week to find low airfares,” says Lile.

6. Pick your day. When you book a ticket, choose the cheapest departure day. According to Kayak .com, that’s Friday for domestic trips, and Tuesday or Wednesday for international.

Read next:
A Month-by-Month Guide to the Best Places to Travel in 2015

MONEY Travel

3 Group Trips Even a Loner Could Love

Thinking about getting away this winter? You can save big on some beautiful places by booking with a group.

Group trips can be a deal, since operators get discounts for booking in bulk. The key is finding the right one for you. The best tours pair a great itinerary with compatible travelers. Try these strategies to get both:

  • Don’t assume smaller is better. Tiny groups aren’t for everyone, says Peter Grubb of ROW Adventures. Big tours can be daunting, but small ones mean lots of time with a few people.
  • Read the crowd. Honeymooners may not want to tour with retirees and vice versa. A good operator will tell you about the type of folks who typically take the trip, including ages and travel styles.
  • Know yourself. Most tours mean following a schedule and accommodating others, says Greg Geronemus of outfitter smarTours. Control freak? Pick a self-guided trip or one with free time.

Ready to take the plunge? Here are three great destinations to check out.

  • For Adventure Seekers

    courtesy of G Adventures Costa Rica

    Toronto-based G Adventures specializes in thrill-centric trips with a twist: The firm offers similar itineraries in a range of styles and prices. So travelers looking for a pulse-pounding Costa Rican vacation can opt for the “Classic” 16-day trip ($1,599) and save 20% over a similar 14-day “Comfort” outing, which includes more private transfers and high-end lodging. The cheaper trip may use more modest hotels, but it doesn’t skimp on activities. Participants hike the Arenal Volcano, tour Monteverde’s cloud forest, take a boat ride to Tortuguero National Park, and hang out in surf- and kayak-friendly Manuel Antonio.

  • For Independent Travelers

    Napa Valley vineyard
    William Curtis Rolf—Gallery Stock Napa Valley

    Does sticking to a daily schedule sound like the opposite of a vacation to you? Try a self-guided tour, like Country Walkers’ six-day trip through -Sonoma and Napa Valley. On this trip, you can go at your own pace, using an itinerary and maps provided by the tour operator, says travel agent Carol Steffens of Travel Leaders–Discovery. You’ll explore wine country on foot, stopping for tastings and cellar tours along the way, eventually rejoining the rest of your group at the same hotel that evening. (Your luggage will be transferred.) Don’t mind cool spring weather? Book a March departure for $1,798 and save 20% over high-season rates.

  • For Outdoorsy Folks

    Witold Skrypczak—Getty Images/Lonely Planet Image Big Bend, Texas

    Taking a trip with a nonprofit rather than a standard tour operator has two advantages: Your money goes to a group you support, and you’ll cut the cost of your vacation. Willing to rough it? A seven-day trip through Texas’s Big Bend National Park with the Sierra Club Outings starts at $945, while a similar seven-day itinerary from a for-profit operator costs $2,795 or more. Travelers on the Sierra Club’s tour will visit hot springs, hike through natural wonders like the limestone canyon Devil’s Den, and camp out under the Texas sky.

    More money-saving travel ideas:
    4 Ways to Visit Europe for 33% Off
    3 Awesome Cruise Deals to Book This Fall
    The Best Sites for Booking Last-Minute Travel


3 Awesome Cruise Deals to Book in October

October is a smart time to book a river cruise, as companies scramble to fill 2014 sailings and get a jump on next year. Here are three destinations offering terrific deals.

  • 1. The Mississippi

    Courtesy of American Queen Steam

    You don’t have to leave the U.S. to cruise. Popular domestic destinations include the rivers of the Pacific Northwest and the mighty Mississippi, says Mark Murphy of Book by Oct. 31 for half off December sailings from New Orleans to Vicksburg, Miss., and back with American Queen Steamboat Co. The firm has two eight-day options for $1,275 a person (down from $2,550). Stops include the Oak Valley Plantation in Louisiana and the Old Natchez Trace trail in Mississippi. Onboard, dine in one of two restaurants and watch the river from the deck-mounted swing.

  • 2. The Rhine

    Courtesy of AmaWaterways

    You’ll find holiday deals on this Western European river. AmaWaterways is offering up to 40% off cruises from Basel to Amsterdam in November and December. The 13-day trip starts in Zurich, then heads up the Rhine, stopping along the way so you can tour local Christmas markets and sip mulled wine in cities like Cologne, Germany, and Strasbourg, France. The trip, typically $2,800 a person, drops as low as $1,680 if you book before Oct. 15. Prefer to wait for warmer weather? Snag a balcony room on more than 90 AmaWaterways 2015 sailings by the end of the month and get up to $1,500 off.

  • The Mekong

    Courtesy of Viking River Cruises—B SCHMIDa collection

    This 2,700-mile river runs through Vietnam and Cambodia, passing lush farmlands as well as metropolises like Ho Chi Minh City. A 15-day trip with Viking River Cruises is a great way to explore the area, says Ruth Turpin of Cruises, Etc.  You’ll explore the temple of Angkor Wat, see dance performances in Phnom Penh, and take a culinary tour of the floating markets of Cái Bè. Viking recently slashed its 2015 prices; this cruise, which launches multiple times each month, is now $3,500 (regularly $7,000) when booked before Oct. 31, and includes intracountry airfare and hotels.

  • Don’t Get Caught Short by Extra Costs

    While river cruises are often billed as “inclusive,” you will need to shell out for some expenses. Here are the big ones.

    Getting Aboard
    Budget for flights to and from your cruise, as well as for lodging the night before you depart (you don’t want to miss the ship!) and transportation from your hotel to the boat, says Adventure Life Journey’s Mary Curry.

    Extra Drinks
    Before you imbibe, read the fine print: Rates often include beer and wine with lunch and dinner, but you’ll usually pay extra for premium liquors or any drinks outside of mealtimes, says Scott Kertes of Hartford Holidays.

    All Tips
    Gratuities for staff and guides aren’t usually included, though there are exceptions, such as trips with Tauck. Not sure how much to give? “Budget about $100 per person per week,” says Murphy of

MONEY Travel

Where to Leaf-Peep for Less This Fall

Choosing a lesser-known foliage spot will help you save money and dodge crowds. Here are three great places to enjoy fall colors without spending a lot of green.

  • The Eastern Townships, Quebec

    Remi Boucher

    While neighboring New England is overrun by leaf spotters—tiny 625,000-person Vermont, for one, expects 3.5 million visitors this fall—this charming cluster of towns gets closer to 1 million tourists during the same period. Outside North Hatley, visit the Jacques Robidas Equestrian Center to ride through groves of maples and birch on horseback ($61). Nearby ski area Mont Sutton opens its lifts on fall weekends; soar over colorful canopies, then take a free guided hike.

    Replenish yourself with freshly made cider at Saint-Benoît-du-Lac abbey, says Jake Beers of the Sherbrooke Record. Bed down at Le Pleasant Hôtel & Café, where rooms start at $128. Game for something more rustic? Try the cabins and yurts on the 70-acre La Vallée Heureuse du Mont Élan ($73 for two).

  • Chattanooga

    Ian Dagnall—Alamy

    Skip popular Asheville, N.C., and head to low-profile Chattanooga, nestled in the Appalachians. In October the typical hotel rate in Chattanooga is just $81, vs. $149 in Asheville. Hike the Cherokee Trail in Stringer’s Ridge Park for a scenic overlook of the city. Or relax on a cruise along the Tennessee River Gorge aboard the Southern Belle riverboat ($36, with lunch). Mark McKnight of outdoor outfitter Rock/Creek suggests renting a kayak (from $25) to paddle around the 19-acre Maclellan Sanctuary on Audubon Island.

    Like hip, modern design? Book a private room ($75) at “boutique hostel” the Crash Pad. For a more traditional stay, choose the historic Sheraton Read House Hotel (starting at $119).

  • The Dallas Divide, Colo.


    This stunning section of Highway 62 packs a scenic punch. You’ll see red aspens, scrub oak, and flowered rabbitbrush, plus the snowcapped peaks of Mount Sneffels. Ditch the car for a bit and stroll along the Uncompahgre River in nearby Ridgway State Park, says park manager Kirstin Copeland.

    Fall is peak season in many foliage destinations, but ski-centric Telluride is actually cheaper in autumn. Save 30% over winter rates when you book at the New Sheridan Hotel in September (starting at $175).

  • A Fall Foliage Checklist

    No matter where you’re headed, use these strategies for the best peeping:

    Time it right. Check sites such as or to see when color will peak, says Steve Jermanok of

    Get the download. Use the Audubon Trees app ($4) to identify leaves. RootsRated (free) lists foliage hikes and other outdoor activities.

    Find the best route. Many state tourism websites suggest local foliage drives. In New England, offers a curated selection.

    4 Ways to Visit Europe for 33% Off

MONEY Travel

Tips for International Travelers

Combining destinations for a grand tour? Try these tips for intra-European travel.


Flying on European discount airlines can be surprisingly affordable. However, be sure to factor the (many) fees into the price, says George Hobica of On Ryanair, lose your boarding pass and you’ll pay $20 for a new one.


For the best fares, book directly through railway websites, not U.S. ticketing agencies, says Thomas Meyers of Buying your ticket more than two months in advance can save you as much as 60%.


Most European cars are manual, so request an automatic if you need one—and be prepared to pay a premium, says Ellison Poe of Poe Travel. If you’re crossing international borders, read up on each country’s laws. France, for example, requires you to carry warning reflectors.


4 Ways to Visit Europe This Fall—for 33% Less!

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