This summer, hotel bookings were up, airplanes were packed, and highways were clogged throughout much of the nation.
If you took a vacation this summer, you traveled too early.
September happens to be the best month to travel if you want to save money, beat the crowds and experience the best weather. It’s the best month to go to a diverse range of destinations, including Virginia Beach, Disney World and Disneyland, Martha’s Vineyard, Mount Rushmore, Toronto, Paris and Beijing.
Virginia Beach: September is peak hurricane season, but it’s unlikely you’ll actually experience one, especially in southeast Virginia. (The Outer Banks of North Carolina tends to bear the brunt of hurricanes bound for the East Coast’s midsection.) It is likely that you’ll get pleasant beach weather, with high temperatures in the low to mid 80s. And by September, the summer crowds are gone, and hotel rates have plummeted. Expect to pay only about $100 a day for an oceanfront hotel room that includes a complimentary breakfast.
Disney World: If you’re willing to pull your kids out of school for a few days early in the school year, you won’t have to fight the hoards of summer tourists who blanket the resort, and the weather is cooler and less humid, though it’s still plenty warm and humid. Off-site hotels especially are cheaper, as are flights to Orlando.
Disneyland: See Disney World. There’s an added benefit: No worries about hurricanes.
Martha’s Vineyard: Even more so than in Virginia Beach, the crowds diminish here after Labor Day, but the water remains warm, and most seasonal businesses on the island stay open well into October to serve fall tourists. If that weren’t enough, rentals tend to drop in price by at least 25% after Labor Day.
Mount Rushmore: Summer’s awesome weather extends to September, and you’ll miss the summer tourists. (More than half of the 2.8 million people who visit Mount Rushmore every year go in June, July and August.) Like other cities near summer tourist destinations, hotels drop their prices by 20% or more after Labor Day.
Toronto: When it comes to Canada’s largest city, wait until at least the middle of the month to go, unless you want to attend the Toronto International Film Festival, which attracts tens of thousands of visitors over 10 days. Unlike other cities on this list, hotel rates don’t drop right after Labor Day because of the film festival. By late in the month, tourists don’t have to worry about heat and humidity or much rain, and the leaves are beginning to change. Keep in mind that it’s usually difficult to find good deals on airfare to Toronto.
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Paris: The weather is pleasant in September, and Parisians are returning to the city, replacing the summer tourists. Airfares and hotel rates dip starting in September, and there still are plenty of outdoor events.
Beijing: Many Beijing residents say September offers the best weather, unlike their hot and humid summers and their bitter cold and snowy winters. News flash: Beijing, with a population of about 20 million, is always crowded — but less so after summer. Hotel rooms are cheaper then, too.
Drive cross country: September offers some of the mildest and most pleasant weather from coast to coast. The northern part of the country won’t have snow yet, and the southern part will have cooled down – a good thing for you and your vehicle. Driving in good weather is less stressful, and if you can’t afford to stay in hotels, sleeping in your car is bearable. If you can afford hotels, rates are cheaper, and tourist destinations you may want to see are less crowded.
Long-time journalist Mark Di Vincenzo wrote The New York Times best-seller Buy Ketchup In May And Fly At Noon: A Guide To The Best Time To Buy This, Do That And Go There. This month he released an app based on that book called WHEN; and an all-new, second edition on the best time to buy things, called Buy Shoes On Wednesday And Tweet At 4:00: More Of The Best Times To Buy This, Do That And Go There, will be released on Sept. 11.