Summer officially started just a few weeks ago; but before you know it, the days of sunshine, sand and surf will be nothing more than a memory. For those who are vacationing this summer, the plans have been made and perhaps the bags have been packed. With the economy in a slow recovery, many families have reluctantly decided to hold off on a summer vacation. But there is still hope for a last minute summer fling that will not break the budget.
When August rolls around, everyone’s mind seems to be focused on the back to school supplies and wardrobe. This is great news for malls and Office Depot, but bad news for travel suppliers. Occupancy tends to fall considerably during the last two weeks of August and there are many deals for the taking if you just take a look around. Now as my mom used to say, beggars can’t be choosers; so understand that you may not get the particular room or cabin you always dreamed about and the dates may not be exactly what you wanted. But if you have an open mind and a little bit of a free spirit, expect to score some great deals.
Ever since 9-11, the major cruise lines have focused on “home port” cruising. This is fancy travel speak for ports in the United States other than Florida. Are you near Charleston, Baltimore, Boston, New York, Galveston, New Orleans, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Norfolk, or almost any other seaport? Chances are that there is a cruise departing from there that will fit the bill. The biggest advantage of home port cruising is that you can avoid the hassle and expense of flying. When you couple it with a pre-night stay at a cruise friendly hotel (one that provides a shuttle to the pier and free parking in return for a one night stay) it is a very affordable option. For example, a 7 night cruise from Baltimore on the Carnival Pride for $799 a person.
Another benefit of cruising is that the lengths of the cruises are varied. You can easily find 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, or 14 night cruises. Keep in mind that while the cruise lines like to claim they are all inclusive, they rarely are. You will have expenses on top of your cruise fare which can include drinks, gratuities, additional dining charges, shore excursions, and more. And remember, a cruise ship can outmaneuver almost any storm.
When it comes to summer vacation, many people think of the fun in the sun. But some feel that the Caribbean may be a bit extreme. Not so. Yes, it is a lot warmer than the other seasons. Yes, it is smack dab in the middle of hurricane season. Yes, it is likely to rain more often. Yes, you can save some dollars! When hurricane season hits, prices take a dip (except for Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, as they are pretty much outside of the hurricane belt). When August hits, prices take another dip as well. And the closer you get to September, the lower the pricing. For example, Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa was offering a mid-July week in a premium room for $6785 for a family of four. The same room at the end of August dropped to $5972!
If you use your head a little bit, you can sniff out some terrific deals. The US is now served by several low cost carriers so airfare is relatively affordable to almost any major city. Enlisting the assistance of a qualified travel professional will also serve you well as they are often privy to many last minute deals that are not widely advertised or promoted.