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By Nicole Spector
The winter is far from over, and forecasts indicate that the worst is yet to come, with parts of the U.S predicted to face below average temperatures from now through March, with February being the chilliest month.
At the time we most want to make a break for sunnier shores, we’re also dealing with all those post-holiday debts and expenses. Would a flight to a warm weather destination break the bank? The answer depends on what you have in the bank, of course, but savings and travel experts insist that now is the time to book a trip if you want to get the best savings of the year.
The ‘post-holiday’ slump means rock-bottom travel prices through mid-February
“Travelers can find awesome deals and steals on travel during the post-holiday slump,” says Chelsea Hudson, finance expert at TopCashback. “Typically, this period begins in January and stretches through February.”
Sara Skirboll, retail and trends expert at RetailMeNot, adds that based on historical travel trends, “travelers can find some of the best deals post-holiday on airfare, hotels and even cruises. Typically this period of savings stretches from a few days after New Year’s Day to around Valentine’s Day.”
Molly Cowen, editor with TravelPirates, adds that these are savings you can find across the board. “Whether you’re looking to book a large-scale international trip or a domestic weekend getaway, you’ll find some of the lowest rates of 2019 [now through] mid-February.”
Here’s our peek at some of the best deals available.
50 percent off Naples Waterfront Hotel in Florida
TravelZoo members can save 50 percent off the Naples Waterfront Hotel on select dates this month through September 30. Your stay includes a complimentary breakfast, and could be as low as $89 a night.
“January through March are the year’s coolest months in a spot like Miami, but [temperatures in the] 70s, and even 80s prevail, and average rainfall is limited, so prices here tend to soar,” says Gabe Saglie, Travelzoo senior editor and travel expert. “Alternative destinations like Naples can see comparable temperatures but more competitive rates. I recommend that travelers book southern Florida getaways early to lock in the best rates.”
Four nights in Cabo, Mexico + flights for as low as $600
Another hot TravelZoo deal is a Cabo 4-Night Winter Escape that bundles flights and hotel. You can depart from Los Angeles (the cheapest, at $599), San Francisco, Houston, Denver and Minneapolis on select dates now through April.
Book by January 11.
“Mexico will see an uptick in demand during the winter months but plenty of inventory means value will prevail in places like Cabo, Puerto Vallarta and Cancun,” says Saglie. “Vacation packages that bundle airfare and resort stay, as well as opting for all-inclusive properties, will generate some of the best bang for the peso.”
- Weather forecast: The daytime temperature in Cabo this week is in the high 70s.
Direct flights from NYC to the Cayman Islands for $280 round-trip
Through TravelPirates, you can book non-stop, round-trip JetBlue flights from NYC to the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean for $280. Cowen notes that this price, available for flights taken on select dates in late January through April, is particularly impressive because the flights are direct.
- Weather forecast: The daytime temperature in the Cayman Islands this week is in the high 70s.
An all-inclusive trip to Punta Cana for under $600
Also available on TravelPirates is the 4-Night Luxury All-Inclusive Punta Cana Vacation From $591 .
“This deal includes flights from NYC and four nights at a brand new luxury all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana,” says Cowen. “The Dominican Republic is one of the hottest Caribbean destinations for Americans, but consequently can get pricey in the peak winter and spring seasons. This deal has an excellent price with dates in February and March.”
- Weather forecast: The daytime temperature in Punta Cana this week is in the low 80s.
30 percent off at Hilton hotels in Hawaii
Hilton is discounting prices on two resorts in Hawaii with its “Best Sale of the Year”, centered on Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, and Hilton Waikoloa Village’s “Extended Cyber Deal.”
“Between these two sales, travelers get up to 30 percent off on best available rates at two of our premier Hawaii properties,” says Lora Gallagher, regional director of marketing, Hilton Hawaii. “This gives travelers unprecedented flexibility when it comes creating a Hawaii vacation that suits their needs — down to [choosing] the specific room they desire to book under the sale.”
The Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort special is available to book now through January 17 at 5 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time, and valid for stays from January 14 through December 19, 2019.
The Hilton Waikoloa Village special is available to book now through January 17th at 12 p.m Hawaii Standard Time and are valid for stays through November 30, 2019, with blackout dates applying.
- Weather forecast: The daytime temperature in Waikoloa Village is in the low 80’s this week and just a touch cooler in Waikiki.
10 percent off tours to Costa Rica and Egypt
Travelous is offering consumers 10 percent off its trips to Costa Rica and Egypt when booked in January (applicable to travel dates through the end of 2019). You’ll get the most savings if you plan your trip for a busier time of year.
“For instance, if a traveler were to want to score the very best deal on travel to Costa Rica, they would book in January for a trip between May and December, and be able to get about $150 off their tour,” says Chris Bazos, managing director of Travelous. “If they head to the destinations in high season, they’ll save even more.”
While Costa Rica is a tried and true tropical escape, Egypt is growing in popularity.
“[Egypt] is much more secure [than in the past], and with the political situation stabilized, more and more tourists are returning to the cradle of civilization,” says Bazos. “2017 saw 8.3 million tourists, according to the Oxford Business Group‘s country director for Egypt, and an expected 60 million tourists visiting in the next 10 years.”
It should be noted that though generally safe, there are some parts of Egypt that are deemed potentially risky for tourists. Bazos notes that St. Katherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai, previously a staple on its Red Sea tour, is presently not available to visit for this reason.
- Weather forecast: The daytime temperature in Cairo, Egypt this week is in the high 60s. In San Jose, Costa Rica, it’s in the low 80s.
Last minute wildlife safari in Tanzania
Knock $1,000 off any last minute booking on the Tanzania Wildlife Safari with Wineland-Thomson Adventures. Trips are departing now through end of March.
“This is one of my favorite times of year to be in Tanzania, and it’s the very first time we’re offering such a steep discount on this incredible trip,” says Ina Steinhilber, president, Wineland-Thomson Adventures. “It’s the perfect way to escape the cold, escape the news, and gain a fresh perspective as you enter the new year. The southern plains of the Serengeti will be teeming with wildlife.”
Though this trip is discounted, it bears a hefty price-tag north of $7k. That covers airfare, accommodations, tour guides and pretty extreme adventures over 10 days. I’ve been researching African safaris lately for a possible honeymoon and this is actually a good deal for an excursion with such short notice.
- Weather forecast: The daytime temperature in Serengeti, Tanzania this week is in the mid-to-high-80s with occasional showers.
Consider a mid-week getaway and book future trips now
Long weekends may be the most convenient way to structure a quick getaway, but traveling mid-week can provide you the best savings. This is true not only for airfare but also for hotels.
“While the winter months are peak season for warmer destinations, there are many opportunities for travelers to capitalize on discounted rates and value-add offers,” says Steven Keup, regional VP of operations for Hersha Hotels and Resorts. “These are usually available for stays that start early or mid-week and extend through to a lower occupancy check out day, such as Monday or Tuesday versus Sunday.”
Keep in mind that while you can nab a good deal on winter travel, you can also save money on a trip later this year if you book it soon.
“January is the prime time to start planning for trips you will take later in the year,” notes Skirboll. “If you know your 2019 travel destinations, set up airfare alerts with an app like Hopper, which helps you track airfare prices.”
When shopping online, always use a browser extension that might qualify you for cashback savings such as Ebates and TopCashback.