Jealous of other people's vacations? You don't have to be. There's a trick to finagling your way to a pricey destination for less: Go when other people generally don't.
During the summer, that often means booking trips to places where it's currently winter, or places that are known for cold weather activities, like ski towns. Traveling off-peak means you'll get better deals on accommodations and tours than at other times of the year—in some cases, saving 60%.
To find the best off-season destinations of the summer, we asked the experts at travel price prediction app Hopper. Here are four they suggested:
Why you should go: June through August are the country's cold months, points out Liana Corwin, a consumer travel expert with Hopper. This means that some of the country's most alluring features—including Fiordland National Park, where the Milford Sound is located; the Bay of Islands; and all the wineries of Waiheke Island, which Vogue dubbed the Hamptons of New Zealand—retain the beauty but lose the crowds.
How much it could cost: Accommodations are heavily discounted in the off-season. Round-trip airfare prices from the U.S. can still top $1,000, depending on where you're flying from, but you can save hundreds of dollars compared to peak-season pricing. For example, June fares from New York City to Auckland averaged $946, according to Faredetective.com. That's 40% less than the October average of $1,516.
How much you could save: Travel guide site Lonely Planet estimates that, throughout the year, the average cost of a "midrange" stay is between $100 and $160 per day (converted from New Zealand dollars), including lodging. Airbnbs in Auckland can be found for up to 60% off the higher prices in November to March, though. One two-bedroom apartment in Auckland charges $39 a night in July, down from $165 in December (all prices as of publication date).
Corwin says activities and tours are often much cheaper, as well. Just don't expect any price breaks if you take to the slopes in the country's ski capital, Queenstown.
Why you should go: Lake Tahoe, on the border of California and Nevada, is known for skiing. But in the summer, it's great for families who want to hike, bike, boat, or enjoy one of its many beaches. It's also ideal for couples: "They have lots of cute, romantic B&Bs right down on the lake," Corwin says.
How much it could cost: The best way to get to Lake Tahoe is to fly into the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, which is about 35 miles northeast from the lake. From there, you can take a bus to North Lake Tahoe. Depending on where you live, round-trip flights to Reno-Tahoe International Airport could cost between $300 and $450 this summer, according to Google Flights. Round-trip flights between Dallas and Reno averaged $326 last July, nearly a quarter less than the average $449 in December, according to Faredetective.com.
How much you could save: The Deerfield Lodge is offering "buy one night, get one 50% off" rates through the end of July and, as of June, there are hundreds of Airbnbs that were under $150 per night, including a one-bedroom rental that is $77 per night in August, a 20% discount from its December rates. Once in the area, you can enjoy many no-fee beaches and a free outdoor concert series on Friday and Saturday evenings, now through Labor Day, at the Shops at Heavenly Village.
Why you should go: May to September are South Africa's coldest months, with temperature lows between 30 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. But if you're willing to bring a few layers, you could have a unique experience for a fraction of the cost most tourists pay. And, because it's the dry season, you could see more of what you're looking for: Animals tend to congregate around water sources, making it easier to spot them.
How much it could cost: Flights from the U.S. to Port Elizabeth International Airport cost around $1,000 from the East Coast and $1,500 from the West Coast, according to Google Flights. You can also fly into O.R. Tambo International Airport near Johannesburg or Cape Town International Airport. Once you arrive, you can drive to many game reserves. Daily costs, if you stay in a hotel double room, are between $70 and $175 (converted from the South African rand), according to Lonely Planet.
How much you could save: "A safari is never going to be cheap, but what we find is a lot of tour operators offer these evening camp rentals for 40% off," Corwin says. At the Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve, prices are about 25% less during "low season," through the end of September. On a honeymoon suite, that's the difference between paying $330 a night versus $436. Plus, you can take advantage of the current promotion to book two nights and get the third for free.
Why you should go: Visiting a ski resort with no snow can seem pointless—unless you are a traveler who delights in all things outdoors. "A lot of the ski resorts will offer really discounted lift tickets so you can mountain bike," Corwin says. Along with hiking and walking trails, there is also an outdoor farmers market through mid-October.
How much it could cost you: To get to Aspen for less, experts advise flying into Denver, about 160 miles away, and renting a car, as opposed to flying into the closer but pricier Aspen/Pitkin County Airport. Round-trip flights to Denver vary greatly depending on where you're coming from but can usually be found for between $150 and $300 during the summer, according to Google Flights. According to Faredetective.com, the average price of a ticket from Miami to Denver in last July was $222—almost half the price as the December average of $410.
How much you could save: Skiing company Aspen Snowmass offers 20% off summer activities including fishing, horseback riding, and kayaking, if you book your trip at least seven days in advance. As of June, over 100 Airbnbs were under $150 per night.
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