Winter sun for a steal
Don't fear a grey-sky holiday -- Nick Trend reveals where the sun is currently hiding
Published 20/11/2011 | 06:00
The next four weeks are probably the gloomiest time of the year for the travel industry. Most of the Mediterranean has closed for the winter, the ski season has yet to start and even city breaks are at a low ebb, because most people fear grey November skies and chilly temperatures.
With a few destinations excepted, there also seems to be a reluctance to head farther afield.
But here's the bright side to November: when it comes to travel, low demand means low prices.
Here is an overview of key destinations and our tactical guide to bagging a winter-sun bargain.
With the risk of hurricane over, much of the Caribbean is already at its best. From Christmas until Easter is high season and bargains can be hard to find, but there is a window of opportunity to get really good value from now until air fares increase on December 8 or 9.
This is the wet season in the Seychelles, so not the best time of year to travel. In Mauritius, the rainy season starts a little later and November is one of the drier months, so look out for bargains.
One of the best places in the region for a tropical beach holiday at this time of year is the Maldives. Unfortunately, prices reflect this, though booking before Christmas will still offer substantial savings
With the summer heat over, November and December are peak months for some of the more popular inland destinations, such as Rajasthan.
The weather is also at its best in Goa and prices for beach holidays are relatively high -- you may find better value by booking for January instead of November.
As we went to press, the floods in Bangkok seemed to be abating. The official advice is still advising against travel to the city, although not against transiting through the airport.
There is some exceptional value to be found here, though you need to choose your destination carefully because the wet season differs from the east to the west coast.
By late November/early December, the west-coast islands (Phuket, Krabi, Koh Phi Phi, etc) should be dry and sunny, while Koh Samui on the east could be wet.
Thanksgiving is on November 24. Air fares rise over that weekend, but otherwise the next six weeks are a great time to travel to the US.
Flights to New York and Boston are cheaper than at any other time of year, and the climate in Florida, California, Las Vegas and the southern states in general is much more pleasant for sightseeing than in the summer months. There are fewer visitors, and flights and hotels are better value, too.
Most air fares rise sharply on December 17.
The political situation is not as stable as it was this time last year, so you need to keep up to date with official advice. The Red Sea resorts, however, are a long way from the tensions of Cairo.
This is less true of Luxor and Aswan, but currently tour operators and cruises in both places are operating normally, and prices are extremely competitive.
Price patterns are similar to those in other winter-sun destinations, with November consistently offering the best value.
November in Australia is late spring -- a popular time to travel. If you book flights well in advance you can get some good deals, but you will struggle to find fares at less than €1,000 return this year.
Plan for next year instead and be aware that fares rise sharply to catch the demand for Christmas and New Year travel to visit friends and relatives.