When Labor Day passes, those of us with school-age kids observe a moment of silence to mourn the end of family vacationing until the winter holidays roll around. For those of us who don't yet have or no longer have children in school, the passing of Labor Day means the time for a family vacation is now.
"Fall's most reliable and notable trend is the drop in prices post Labor Day," says Genevieve Shaw Brown, editorial director at Travelocity. "It's a more affordable time for a family to take a vacation than the summer months." For families and other bargain-hunting travelers, it's a shoulder season "when prices are lower, crowds are fewer, and the weather is still agreeable," she says.
If you got queasy while pricing airfares this summer, fall domestic fares are more than 15 percent lower by comparison, Brown told me, and for European flights, more than 20 percent lower. So how might a shrewd family capitalize on this pricing? One option, she suggests, is to couple the relatively cheap overseas fares with an inexpensive cruise.
"Celebrity, for example, has several Mediterranean cruises this month departing from places like Istanbul, Barcelona, and Rome for about $110 per person per night for an inside cabin," Brown observes.
If you're trying to gauge whether family vacationing during the fall shoulder season will be a better value than last autumn, the news is mixed. While there's more than a 10 percent increase in airfare from last fall to such popular fall getaway cities as New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Seattle, New Orleans, and Denver, the good news is that in all those cities, average daily hotel room rates "are all down more than 10 percent since last fall," Brown says.
So while flying to those cities may cancel out that 10 percent savings, you might do better than last fall if you drive to those destinations for a week or even a long weekend, as long as you don't spend a fortune on gas.
Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates and travel deals on hotels, flights, vacation packages, and more.