Summer feels like a million years away, with the Polar Vortex and other winter weather weirdness so close in the rear-view mirror. But the sooner you make summer vacation arrangements, the less money you’ll spend and the better your trip will be.
With the world so wide open for travel, it might be surprising that the hottest travel trends are close to home. “The majority of the destinations travelers are interested in visiting this summer are in the United States and Mexico,” says Expedia’s Alexis Tiacoh, who crunched data on where people want to go for their 2019 summer holidays. She says that shorter flight times help, and travelers can save an average of $600 on hotel/air/car packages when they travel to Mexico in the offseason. Cancun, Punta Cana, Riviera Maya, and Los Cabos are getting lots of traction with travelers.
In addition to Mexico, these international destinations are getting a lot of attention from travelers:
● London: Enjoy the sunny season and tour Buckingham Palace, catch some tennis at Wimbledon, revel at the BBC Proms classical music festival or the BST Hyde Park festival headlined by Celine Dion and stop to smell the roses and everything else at the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show. It’s also the time when our friends across the pond celebrate Pride and the LGBTQ community.
● Barcelona: Fly in for Sónar, the Festival of Advanced Music and Multimedia Art, check out free concerts and outdoor film festivals throughout the city and stop by the lesser-known Festa Major de Sants. Time Out Barcelona has a great round-up of summer fun.
● Dublin: This bustling city is rife with modern theater, literary history, and music on every corner. See Visit Dublin for details.
● Reykjavik: With nearly 24 hours of daylight, the Land of the Midnight Sun gives you lots of time to take in sweeping surreal landscapes, dip into the thermal pools and marvel at the contemporary art scene.
If you’re staying stateside, trending U.S. cities include
● Seattle: Zoo Tunes are a perennial favorite. Free concerts (John Prine in August!) plus animals—what could be better? In July, Seafair takes over the earth, sky, and water of Seattle and its environs.
● New York: Die-hard Yankees fans will tell you there’s no better place to take in a game than their stadium; Shakespeare in the Park is packed with world-class talent; and of course, there’s always Broadway.
● Honolulu: It’s island life with an urban vibe. Visit some of Hawaii’s best shopping, dining and, of course, the beach. When you’re ready to get away from it all (yes, even the beach!), try a number of scenic hikes.
● Las Vegas: Sure, you can always do a show and then gamble the night away, but summer in Vegas can also involve water slides, pool parties, and zip lines. That’s right—zip through the Strip. More at Lavish Vegas.
Strategizing Your Stay
“The number one thing I always tell people, regardless of what kind of trip they’re planning, is to look at booking their travel as a vacation package,” Tiacoh says. That can add up to about $600 in savings when you book your plane, hotel, and car together.
And this year, there are more alternatives than ever for lodging. The fastest-growing options are
● Tentalows, a cross between a tent and a bungalow
● Chalets and villas
● Whole-house or apartment vacation rentals furnished with kitchens and other homey comforts.
Want to wing it and book everything separately? Tiacoh says that, if you wait until six days or fewer before your trip, you can save 15% on a hotel (if you book more than 90 days in advance you’ll pay 30% more); the ideal booking time for a flight is 21-30 days in advance; and you’ll save a little bit—about 5%—when you book a rental car 7-20 days in advance.