Deals, destinations for winter escapes, spring break travel

WASHINGTON — Tired of the ice and snow? Or perhaps you’d like to see more?

Whether you’re trending hot or cold on travel plans for 2019, January is the best time to book deals and destinations for winter getaways, spring break travel, even summer adventures.

“Following the busy holiday season, those airfare prices are still relatively low, and the hotel prices haven’t had a chance to ramp up for the busy spring and summer season,” said travel expert Justine McDonald.

“So if you’re looking to check off some of those bucket-list trips, now is a really great time to book in order to get the most out of that vacation budget.”

Thinking about your 2019 trips? Here are tips from two travel experts:

Long weekend? Consider cruising

If you’re looking to escape the single-digit degrees of winter, a warm beach is just a few hours away. Travel expert Jeanenne Tornatore said cruises are a best bet for last-minute winter weekends, since they require minimal planning (with onboard entertainment and all-inclusive meals) and promise plenty of sun and surf.

In the travel industry, January is known as “wave season,” and it’s the time of year when cruise lines cut their prices. Travelers can find plenty of warm-weather destinations that depart from Baltimore or multiple ports along the East Coast.

Mediterranean and Alaskan cruises are another popular option, and Tornatore said there are also “great northern European cruises as well, that stop in places like Dublin and Scotland and [Norway].”

For those, however, you’re best booking four to six months out.

Smaller cities are big

Another idea for a long weekend away is a smaller American city, such as Kansas City, Missouri, or Spokane, Washington. McDonald said New Orleans and Key West, Florida, are also hot U.S. destinations where travelers can get a deal.

Be flexible

If you’re booking a last-minute or long-weekend trip, be as flexible as possible.

“If you can use one extra vacation day, leave a day early, or stay a day longer, that’s really going to help you on the airfare side,” Tornatore said.

“The best days to fly are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, avoiding those busier travel days at the airport.”

Now is the time to think about offseason travel

Yes, summer and fall seem far away, but they’ll be here before you know it. And Tornatore said you should book big trips, such as those to Europe or other international excursions, four to six months in advance. Set fare alerts, and be ready to book when the price falls within your parameters.

“Late winter into early spring is a good time to do that,” Tornatore said.

Airfare deals

While airfare does fluctuate, McDonald said she is seeing deals these days at airports like Cusco, Peru; Iguazu, Argentina; and West Palm Beach, Florida.

“So if you’re wanting to try a new destination, those are really good bets right now,” she said.

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