This may be the strangest thing you hear in the midst of one of the busiest, most frantic and flat-out insane travel weekends of the year, but this is a great time to travel.
I’ll give you a second to process that. Deep breath. We good? Okay; let’s resume.
Let us revise that statement slightly: After we get through this weekend, and for the next three and a half weeks, this is a fantastic time to travel.
Travel+Leisure says so, for one thing, and T+L don’t lie.
But it also happens to be true. Almost no one travels between Thanksgiving and Christmas, for multiple reasons. Business travelers are winding down their year, closing out their books, and finishing with a long home stand. Leisure travelers are looking forward to Wave Season or that after-Christmas getaway. Families are just coming off of Thanksgiving travel and prepping for Christmas travel. Plus there’s all that cooking and baking and shopping and tree-trimming and carol-singing to be done.
As the intrepid traveler Ebenezer Scrooge once remarked, bah humbug to all that. When they zig you zag, and when they stay home you get going.
It’s such a great time to be zagging, too, because some destinations that are downright magical this time of year are also ridiculously inexpensive to get to. Pair up a bargain fare with an Airbnb, or pull an Ariana Arghandewal and put some points and miles to work, and you can have an amazing between-the-holidays vacation for next to nothing.
Understanding that all airfares are written in sand, we visited some of our favorite places to find great airfares – AirfareWatchdog.com, Southwest.com and Google Flights – and came up with a short list of some of the fares and destinations that caught our eye this holiday weekend:
Miami to Cancun for $157 on American: Granted, flying from one sun-and-fun capital of the world to another is a little like driving to the Panera on the other side of town just because, but as our Cat Zuniga would point out, what Cancun has that Miami doesn’t is all-inclusive resorts and lots of them, with lots of occupancy between the holidays. Get yourself to Miami and strike a deal, and you could have a week in Cancun for the price of the airfare to Cancun under peak conditions.
New York to Montreal for $182 on American: If it were up to us, we’d take the train, but this gets you there faster and cheaper – and let’s face it: Montreal is so enchanting in the winter that you’re going to want to get there fast. Our recommendation to maximize your time: Spend a day and a half in Montreal, then train it to Quebec City and spend a day and a half there. It’s like Christmas in France for way less than a grand.
Denver to New York (or vice versa) for $97 on Frontier: Okay, so this is Frontier, and that means no frills whatsoever, but this is still a screaming deal on a long-distance trip to a city that is pure effervescence between the holidays. Grab yourself a hot drink, position yourself along the rail at Rockefeller Center, and tell yourself: now this is Christmastime in the city.
Kansas City to Burbank for $290 on Southwest: Maybe it’s because we were just watching The Endless Summer on Turner Classic Movies, but something about California sounds really good to us right now. L.A. is on a bit of a roll these days; the town is becoming much more than a baseplate for freeways, and even the Lakers are playing better. Fly into Burbank, rent a car (or go carless, and follow in the footsteps of our Natalie Rivera), and head to the beach. Watch the surfers shoot the curl and dream some California dreams. Gotta admit: It sure beats KC.
Detroit to Budapest for $437 on Air Canada: A little Europe might be just the thing this time of year, and Budapest checks all the boxes. Old World charm? Check. Goulash and paprika? Check. Holiday gayety? Check. European affordability? Check and mate. Do the math: For only $140 more than KC-to-LA you can go to Budapest. Why not? Live a little. Have Christmas early. And when people ask you what you got for Christmas, just smile … and wipe the paprika off the corner of your mouth.
Naturally, the one thing that goes best with all these trips is travel insurance. Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection literally has you covered, with ExactCare (trip cancellation and interruption, travel medical, baggage protection, and more) and AirCare (innovative coverage for common flight mishaps). BHTP makes sure your bargain fare doesn’t turn into a nightmare. And yes, we know that rhymes.