We haven't exactly had a winter, so why not start thinking about spring? With school break officially over and Spring Break on the minds of students everywhere, it's time to start planning your next getaway. But where to go? The deal experts at Travel-Ticker(TM), a leading inspirational travel website, announced their Spring 2012 Where To Go Now & How Guide.
Their choices range from typical to extreme, fluctuate between budget and luxury, and offer a variety of options. I've added a few of my own hotel suggestions to these spring destinations so you have some choices to consider. (All of the prices quoted below are per person or per night, based on availability, and do not include additional taxes and fees.)
1. New Orleans: Travel-Ticker says The Big Easy is the place to be in spring, especially with Jazz Fest happening in April and May. "Although the crowds may be a bit bigger than usual, this time of the year is definitely NOLA's sweet spot for activities and weather while still offering great value." Travel Ticker says the average rate for hotel stays during peak season is $87, only $10 more than off season reservations, making it well worth the splurge. However, don't expect these rates during festival weekends.
2. Miami: Don't be discouraged by the thought of spring break crowds in Miami - once the big break is over, the city returns to normal and offers some of the best deals of the year. Hurricane season starts in June, so April and May are the perfect months to grab a good deal. According to Travel Ticker, you'll save anywhere from $25-$80 a night on hotel stays during Miami's shoulder season, when rates average $98. Compare that to peak season (December through March) prices of $122 per night.
My hotel picks: For luxury travelers, look no further than The Setai for private beach access, trendy dining options, a luxury spa and plenty of private hideaways. For budget travelers, check out the Dream South Beach, located on Collins Avenue just steps from the beach. The hotel is a new addition to the Wyndham Hotel group, is perfectly trendy and sexy in all the right Miami ways, and won't leave you broke at check-out.
3. Tahoe: It's not just for snowbirds. Tahoe's prices fluctuate from January to September, with low prices concentrated in spring time, according to Travel Ticker. "During this season not only can you score great savings, but also some fantastic snow as long as winter extends into the spring months." Tahoe hotel rates run as high as $579 per night during peak season, but in March/April, rates are as low as $69 (for budget hotels). You can also score lift tickets with your hotel stays during spring, saving you additional dollars.
My hotel picks: Northstar-at-Tahoe and the Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe are the cream of the crop. The Ritz-Carlton is perfect for couples, friends and groups looking to experience a little luxury on the slopes. Families should consider a stay at Northstar, which is its own village - complete with an ice skating rink, shops, restaurants and bars - at the bottom of the ski lift. The two hotels connect via a sky tram so you can shuffle from one to the other.
4. China: Admittedly, this choice surprised me when I saw it on the list, but I give Travel Ticker credit for thinking outside the box. China is a long flight from Boston, and certainly skews toward a more expensive trip, but if you have the means and ways it's a fascinating destination and spring is a great time to visit if nothing else for the great weather. Travel Ticker says the top cities in China (Beijing, Shangai and Guangzhou) experience fewer crowds in March and April, making travel here a bit easier.
My travel tip: Having been to China a few times over the past few years I can safely recommend this country as a must-experience. If you can swing it this spring then go for it, but don't do it without the help of a planned or guided tour. The tours, like those set up by Abercrombie & Kent, will arrange everything from your airfare to transfers and hotel stays, keeping things easier on your end.
5. Ecuador: South America's best bet for the Spring season is Ecuador, according to the travel site. They recommend you visit the famous Galapagos Islands, relax on pristine beaches, explore the wonders of the Amazonian rain forest or take in views of the majestic Andes mountain range. "The rain may linger in some areas, but that helps keep tourist levels and prices low. Beat the peak season rates that start in May by visiting just a month or so early," said Travel Ticker.
Their travel tip: An eight day trip to Ecuador in March, April or May will average between $1,279 and $1,379, with the same trip in December averaging between $250 and $500 more. Save up to $1,140 per couple or $2,280 for a family of four when traveling during spring.
Readers: Where are you planning to vacation this spring?
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