The holiday season is upon us, but the best travel deals aren't tied to the holidays. They are right in between two of the biggest celebrations of the year: Thanksgiving and Christmas.
If you can take the time during this period, you'll miss the crowds and snatch one of the biggest travel bargains of the year.
Supply And Demand
Basic economics dictate that limited supply, coupled with excessive demand, leads to higher prices. This simple economic principle works against you during the peak holiday travel season. Airfares soar along with hotel prices as families take advantage of the school break and use the time to get away.
For those with children in school, you can't avoid the crowds and the costs associated with holiday travel. Indeed, it's the only time you can actually get away.
That limitation means you'll have to pony up big time to get away and enjoy a great vacation. For everyone else, a little flexibility will see your travel dollars going a lot further.
If you have to travel during this time, take advantage of something called homeport cruising. It's estimated that more than half of the American population lives within a three-hour drive of a cruise ship. Modern cruise ships are now strategically placed at ports all over the country, giving travelers an airfare-free holiday and saving an average family thousands of dollars on a getaway. In addition to the cost savings, the idea of driving to your cruise ship saves your mental health as you avoid the hassles of air travel associated with peak travel days.
Cruise from virtually any port between Thanksgiving and Christmas and you'll find some incredible cruise deals. Sail on the Carnival Conquest from Miami on Dec. 7 and you'll see rates as low as $229 for an inside cabin and $490 for a balcony cabin, per person. Wait until Dec. 21 and those fares will jump to $639 for an inside cabin and $1,189 for a balcony (all costs are per person, double occupancy). You'll see the same ports on both cruises as well!
Take In an Ancient Civilization
Get out of the country and head south to Peru and experience the customs of the mystical Inca Empire. Airfare in mid-December will run 30 percent less, on average, from the Christmas holiday week. Semi-inclusive tours for a seven-day adventure start at $700 per person from a variety of different operators. Contact a travel agent that specializes in Peru travel and who has been certified by Travel Agent Academy and Prom Peru, the official tourism arm of the Peruvian Government. You can find one here.
Surf Waikiki Beach
Try to book The Modern, Trump or Kahala hotels during Christmas week and you'll be hard pressed to even find them available. Head out a week earlier, and you'll find all three properties for less than $400 a night. Can't travel early and want a five-star hotel over Christmas? One of my favorites is the Royal Hawaiian by Starwood Hawaii, but it will run you close to $1,000 per night over Christmas. Maybe you can ask Santa to help out.
Millions of Americans travel to Mexico without incident every year, so don't let safety be a concern. Focus on the incredible value when booking a package to places like Los Cabos, which has rebounded strong from the hurricane it experienced in September, and the Cancun/Riviera Maya region of Mexico. Both offer great value and easy access, depending on where you are located in the United States.
When doing a search for air-inclusive packages the week before Christmas, properties like Barcelo Riviera Maya have per-person, all-inclusive rates from $1,000 per person, per week. Package prices that include air from certain U.S. gateways can vary, so consult a travel professional to understand what works best for you. Los Cabos has similar savings and you'll find a great one at the Sandos Finisteerra all-inclusive resort. The week before Christmas sees rates as low as $1,400 per person for an all-inclusive week.
Just as we've seen in every other example, prices climb to more than $2,000 per person for these Mexico vacations when you take those seven nights during the peak holiday travel week.
Flexibility is Key
All travel suppliers use something called yield management to maximize their revenue during high-demand periods. As demand peaks, so do prices, leading to sticker shock for some travelers. Take advantage of the travel valleys for destinations and suppliers as the experience will cost you far less, be more enjoyable and involve far less battling with the crowds.
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