Pre-Season Escapes

19 Holiday Destinations to Visit Now

View Slideshow
Pre-Season Escapes


Traveling during the height of the winter holidays can be a pricey undertaking. It's no secret that when demand is high, prices spike, making Christmas and New Year's among the most expensive times to visit some of the world's popular holiday destinations. At Cheapism's request, Skyscanner has compiled a list of top holiday haunts around the globe (based on popularity of flight searches) that can be visited at a discount right now. For those contemplating a last-minute fall getaway, here are 19 destinations where the average airfare is currently cheaper than it is come Christmas and New Year's when the crowds arrive.

New York


While flying to New York City during Christmas or New Year's will set you back an average of $410, jetting to the Big Apple right now is almost $100 cheaper at $316. Early fall in New York City, which is shoulder season, is a lovely time. Hot summer temperatures are subsiding (as are the crowds), and the winter chill has not yet set in. One more reason to visit now: Broadway Week (which continues through Sept. 16) features half-price tickets for some of the best shows, including many Tony Award winners. There are also loads of free fun things to do, too.



A ticket that would cost about $886 during the holidays can be had right now for about $740, a nearly $150 savings. London in December is a popular choice both for English visitors and international tourists, so skip the crowds and visit during fall when there's a variety of notable cultural events. Along with other affordable activities, fall highlights include Fashion Week and Museums at Night (Oct. 25-27), a time when popular venues open their doors for evening events and night-time displays.

Los Angeles


Travelers can score a small discount by visiting Los Angles now, with the average ticket price decreasing from a holiday high of $357 to about $333. Perhaps one of the best reasons to visit Los Angeles in September is air that's more breathable. And with average temps between 50 and 80 degrees, exploring the city's attractions is a much more pleasant experience. There's also a variety of notable events taking place this time of year, including the L.A. County Fair and the Abbot Kinney Festival (in the Venice neighborhood), which features food trucks, music, and hundreds of vendors.

Cancun, Mexico


Thanks to a generally favorable exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Mexican peso, Cancun is already a budget-friendly destination

. You can add to that savings by visiting now while the average airfare is $436, about a $17 discount from the $454 holiday price. The destination's high season runs from the end of November through the first week in March, with prices peaking from mid-December to mid-January, so now is the time to avoid crowds and price gouging. The downside, you stand more chance of seeing rain showers at some point during the day.



Yet another popular destination that follows the shoulder season rule of thumb, come fall crowds in Paris have thinned, temps are more bearable, and prices are more budget-friendly. In fact, airfare is around $706, a substantial $120 cheaper than Christmas and New Year's. This time of year also brings picturesque fall foliage in the City of Lights and the notable European Heritage Days (the third weekend in September), when many places usually closed to the public, such as the Elysee Palace, open their doors.

Las Vegas


September, as it turns out, is one of the best times to visit Las Vegas. You'll get a break from the 100-degree-plus summertime heat and beat the crowds that flock to Sin City at New Year's. There's also a number of festivals taking place including the Las Vegas Greek Food Festival and the iHeartRadio Music Festival. Airline tickets, according to Skyscanner, are slightly cheaper now as well, though it's a negligible $8, with the average price around $223 instead of the $232 fares available in December and January. To save more money, visit mid-week when room rates in this popular weekend party city, are lower; and also seek out the best fun freebies.



Visiting Spain between now and late October comes with the added benefit of daylight saving time, which means you'll have incredibly long days, allowing for even more exploration. In addition, the average airline ticket price is currently about $726, which is about $155 cheaper than it will be around Christmas time.

San Francisco


For those unfamiliar with San Francisco's unusual weather patterns, fall (not summer) offers some of the city's warmest, most inviting temperatures. And as luck would have it, the airfare is also more favorable in September, with tickets averaging about $292 (Christmas and New Year's fares are about $323). For travelers not driven by weather alone, September and October in San Francisco are also notable because of the many festivals taking place including the San Francisco Fringe Festival, the Treasure Island Music Festival, and the Castro Street Fair.

Mexico City


Through the end of September, Mexico City experiences a rainy season, but if that doesn't deter you, there's a small savings to be had by visiting now instead of during the holidays. Skyscanner found a $21 savings on the current average ticket price, which is $395. Those who don't mind keeping an umbrella handy can spend days exploring the city's historic center, known as Zocalo, which was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO, or enjoying a destination known for having the most museums in the world.



If scoring a bargain is your ultimate goal, visiting Thailand between now and the end of October will translate into savings on airfare and hotels. That's because it's the hottest and rainiest time of year. (Temperatures start to drop come November). During low tourist season, travelers are likely to find the best deals and far fewer crowds. The average airfare to the city right now is $902, which is about $55 cheaper than the Christmas fares to this popular destination.

Washington, D.C.


Airline tickets to the nation's capital are about $16 cheaper now, coming in at an average of $296, compared to holiday season prices of $312. And while a fall visit won't include the city's famed cherry blossoms, you will enjoy changing leaves, which make for a great photo when combined with the city's many famous monuments. Washington also hosts the H Street Festival in September, one of its most anticipated and highly attended single-day festivals, encompassing 11 blocks and 14 staging areas showcasing food, music, artwork, and more.



One of the more substantial airfare savings on this list, travelers can shave about $113 off a ticket by visiting Dublin now while average prices are around $646. Come Christmas, prices will spike to $759. Fall brings with it a number of art and theater festivals, yet another good reason to visit. Highlights include the Dublin Fringe Fest, the Dublin Festival of History, and the Dublin Theater Festival. Pack sweaters, coats and scarves if Dublin is on your radar this fall, as temps can be chilly (upper 40s to low 60s).



Come September, attractions in Honolulu are less crowded, room rates are at their lowest and there are numerous notable cultural events. Airfare also dips slightly, with tickets averaging about $596, which is $12 cheaper than visiting during Christmas. While that's not exactly a significant bargain, when combined with the cheaper hotel rooms available this time of year and reduced crowds, the benefits start to add up. In addition, the islands host several events focused on food, fashion, film and Hawaiian heritage in September and October, among them the Aloha Festivals, the Hawaiian Airlines Moloka'i Hoe, and the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival. If Hawaii is on your to-do list, be sure to double-check the weather and news reports, as the islands have seen some hurricane activity this year.

Seoul, South Korea


Airline tickets to Seoul are about $171 cheaper now than during the holidays, making this destination one of the biggest bargains uncovered by Skyscanner. The average ticket is $1,185 compared to $1,355 during Christmas. Hotel prices are also more affordable. Also, come September, the country celebrates its version of Thanksgiving, known as Chuseok. One of the biggest and most important holidays in Korea, it provides a good opportunity to witness and experience traditional cultural experiences throughout the country, including folk games and special Chuseok foods.



Hotel rates decline in Toronto come September, and airline tickets are also noticeably cheaper, about $85 cheaper to be exact with the average flight costing $319 instead of $405 later in the year. There are also several notable festivals in the fall including the Toronto International Film Festival and the Toronto International Art Fair.

San Jose Cabo, Mexico


Sometimes referred to as Cabo San Lucas' more elegant twin, San Jose del Cabo is known for its luxurious resorts and Old Town, which showcases traditional Mexican charm. Airline tickets to this popular destination are about $19 cheaper now than during the height of the holidays, with prices currently averaging around $446. There are also discounts to be had at many of the resorts in fall as well, thanks in large part to it being the tail end of the region's rainy (read: hurricane) season. Come October, hotel rates begin to climb again.

Reykjavik, Iceland


One of the most popular destinations on the planet in recent years, scoring a bargain to Iceland is nothing to sniff at. The average savings on an airline ticket right now is about $37, with prices around $469. (To snag the cheapest prices, be sure to check budget carrier Wow Air.) It may however be a bit chilly in Iceland for some, with temps between the mid-30s to the low 50s, but that's practically to be expected in this destination. In exchange for braving the cold, you'll find significantly reduced room rates and attractions far less crowded. You may also be able to spy the aurora borealis.



Airline tickets to Montreal, Quebec's largest city, are currently about $364, which is $76 cheaper than during the holidays. A fascinating city to explore practically any time of the year, Montreal is set on an island in the Saint Lawrence River and includes neighborhoods with cobblestoned streets, French colonial architecture and Gothic Revival churches. Autumn also brings a rise in hotel availability as crowds dissipate, and a variety of festivals, including the POP Montreal International Music Festival and the Montreal Burlesque Festival.