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Fall Travel Ideas and New Shoulder Season Bargains

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We all know fall is shoulder season in the travel industry, but just what does that mean? Think empty plane seats and hotel deals at select locations in the U.S. and abroad. Editorial Director for Travelocity, Genevieve Shaw Brown talks with Peter about where to find travel bargains this shoulder season.

Peter Greenberg: I’m in Switzerland right now enjoying fall travel bargains. Life is pretty good.

Genevieve Shaw Brown: I imagine. The last time I was in Switzerland was 2009 and my airfare was $600 round trip including taxes. I don’t know if I’ll get that fare again.

PG: I like how you said, “$600 round-trip including taxes.” I wish more airlines would advertise that way. The bottom line is it’s usually $600 not including taxes and the taxes are $800. To deconstruct what you just said to me, you actually got a $200 ticket with about $400 in taxes.

GSB: Common travelers don’t care what’s the actual ticket price and what’s the actual tax price. All they care about is how much money is coming out of their pocket. And for me, $600 was a steal.

PG: It was a steal, which is why airlines should be more transparent and tell you what you’re totally going to pay. Stop being competitive on an artificial rate when you haven’t included taxes.

We are now in the shoulder season. Let’s start with domestic fares. I think it’s safe to say that domestic fares on average are about 15 percent less than they were about a month ago.

GSB: That’s right and that obviously has to do with the fact that fewer people travel come September and October than they do during the summer months. You know the summer months—the airlines, the airports, the seats—are filled with families because the kids are out of school and everyone kind of needs to take their vacation at the same time. But if you have the flexibility to travel in the fall, I personally think that it can be more pleasant. You’re definitely going to pay less in most destinations. And you know it’s going to be less crowded which is typically something that people are looking for. And a lot of destinations are going to still get nice weather, which is important of course too.

GSB: It’s a shame that prices are so high during the summer months because it becomes cost-prohibitive for families to take vacations. And if they could do something like, take the kids out of school and do a lesson on the road, they could maybe actually afford to take a great vacation in the fall months.

PG: Overseas, there is a 15 percent drop over the average fares from just a month ago. In Europe, it’s down 20 percent, right?

GSB: That’s right. Not only are you going to pay 20 percent less for your airfare, but you’re going to find that in most destinations, the weather is absolutely perfect to do some sightseeing. You won’t see as many crowds at the top attractions. And just generally it’s a wonderful time to get away. If you can swing it right now I would absolutely encourage people to take a trip to Europe or even a cruise. There are many Mediterranean cruises available for under $100 per person per night so that’s definitely something to consider if you want to do a few different destinations in one trip.