Q: My husband and I would like to take a hot and sunny holiday this year, however we’re on a pretty tight budget. I’ve heard that you can get some good “off-season” deals, is this true? When is considered “off-season”? – Stephanie Kerrigan, Edmonton, AB
A: If you can be flexible with your schedule, you can work supply-and-demand in your favour and save on airfare, resort rates, merchandise and tourist attractions. Not to mention fewer lines and more room to spread out on the beach.
The best definition of “off-season” are times when it’s less convenient for families to travel–fall and spring (excluding Easter/spring vacation).
Some of the most popular sunny destinations are the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, California and Florida. Because of the exchange rate, some of best deals this year for Canadians will be found in the U.S. Also, if you are considering a weekend get-away, consider Vegas or Phoenix as possible options.
We spoke with experienced travel agent Betty Yee from Internet International Travel, who offered some suggestions.
California, Florida & the Caribbean
Travelling to California, Florida, and the Caribbean in the fall is less popular because of stormy weather, however spring is typically a great time to head over. Canadians will find comfortable temperatures during spring as temperatures are on the rise in these spots as summer approaches. However, because many families find it difficult to get away during this time, resorts are left trying to fill rooms and attractions.
For example, the popular Disney resorts are advertising that savings of up to 30 – 40 per cent if you book during late spring (April – June) or early fall (August – October). At the Sandals Resorts in the Caribbean, you can find deals like 65 per cent off or “Companion Flies Free” offers during the spring (excluding April, which is Easter/spring break). If you are planning to book your trip during the fall, check to see if your resort has a hurricane policy that would allow you to reschedule your holiday with the same deal should a storm hit. Another way to avoid a bad weather is by taking a cruise, which can change direction and steer clear of stormy skies.
Hawaii is known to have moderate temperatures year-round, and has proven to be a wonderful vacation for most, making it an ideal location for off-season travellers who have the flexibility to leave in the cooler months of spring and fall. Like many sunny destinations, Hawaii accommodations and attractions offer exceptional deals during these times. Currently, as spring approaches, the reputable Marriott hotel has a package posted called the “Sprit of Aloha” that includes one night’s free accommodation and a room-upgrade. However Hawaii is not known for their all-inclusive resorts, which is a popular option when you’re on a budget.
Mexico, on the other hand, has many all-inclusive resorts, and despite current issues, is still a popular destination. From the end of February until the beginning or June, you’re likely to enjoy ideal weather and deeply discounted rates on many Mexico packages. Currently, at the Dreams Riviera Resort you can save 50 per cent by travelling this spring, and are given $400 in resort coupons.
Do Your Research
On a final note, be sure to do your research and ask plenty of questions. While this is true for any holiday, it is particularly important for off-season vacations. The off-season can be a popular time for hotels and resorts to do repairs and renovations. You want to be sure that your resort isn’t under construction, and if it is, that your room is far away from the noise.
Furthermore, if you’re looking for a good party, off-season may not be the way to go as occupancy rates are typically down. You can also occasionally find that local restaurants and attractions are down for the season.
Lastly, some resorts have yet to recover from the recession, and may be offering exceptional deals year-round. If travelling during the off-season is less convenient for you, be sure to compare with the regular rates, it may not be worth the savings.
– Allison Onyett