There are Dream Vacations and there are affordable vacations. The challenge is turning the former into the latter.
In its new “Luxury for Less Guide,” TripAdvisor (SmarterTravel’s parent company) has done just that, taking nine lust-worthy destinations and showing savvy travelers how to save as much as 52 percent on trips that might otherwise seem too pricey to consider.
The trick is in the timing: By choosing optimal times to visit, the guide identifies the best “value months,” when travelers will enjoy the best combination of low hotel rates, local weather, and seasonal activities. (While the TripAdvisor study focuses on hotel rates, it stands to reason that airfares will also be lower when hotel costs dip, since both reflect the ebbs and flows of traveler demand.)
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Here, then, are the best times to travel to the nine destinations chosen by TripAdvisor users as their Dream Vacation spots:
- Bali, Indonesia – Visit during May/June to save 52%. Find flights >
- Mauritius – Visit during September to save 51%. Find flights >
- Bora Bora, French Polynesia – Visit during April to save 38%. Find flights >
- New York City, New York – Visit during March to save 33%. Find flights >
- Botswana – Visit during April, October to save 32%. Find flights >
- Iguazu Falls, Brazil – Visit during May to save 31%. Find flights >
- Tokyo, Japan – Visit during May to save 21%. Find flights >
- Seychelles – Visit during September to save 20%. Find flights >
- Hawaii – Visit during April/May, September/October to save 20%. Find flights >
Of those destinations, New York and Hawaii are the most accessible for U.S.-based travelers, as both are served nonstop by many airlines from many U.S. cities.
Mauritius is served by a number of foreign carriers. Turkish Airlines, for example, flies to Mauritius Island from Los Angels with a layover in Istanbul.
Bora Bora is reached by first flying to Papeete on the big island of Tahiti, followed by a short connecting flight to the smaller island.
Flying to Botswana’s largest airport, Gaborone, is probably best accomplished by connecting to an Air Botswana flight in Johannesburg.
To reach the world’s largest waterfalls, Brazil’s Iguazu Falls, travelers will fly to Cataratas Airport, near the border between Brazil and Argentina. Plan on a minimum of two enroute connections.
With the opening of Haneda Airport to international flights, Tokyo is more accessible than ever. Between Haneda and Narita airports, visitors have a choice of a handful of U.S. and Asian airlines.
Bali‘s nearest airport is Denpasar. There are no nonstop flights from the U.S., so getting there will require at least one connection outside the country.
Getting to the Seychelles might be a 13-hour Etihad flight from New York to Abu Dhabi, connecting to a 4-hour flights to Seychelles International Airport.
Over and above the specific destinations spotlighted above, the underlying strategy is a durable one. By avoiding periods of peak travel demand, consumers can get a better deal on their hotels and flights. And there’s a side benefit as well: You’ll avoid the stifling crowds.
For cunning contrarians, Dream Vacations can become Affordable Vacations.
Reader Reality Check
Where would your Dream Vacation take you?
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.