Wednesday, January 11, 2012

January Travel Bargains

January is probably the cheapest month of the year to travel, at least in the northern hemisphere. Because it follows the holidays when many people have overspent, few choose to travel for pleasure this month. Accordingly, hotels, airlines and cruise ships tend to drop their rates to try to attract guests.
My most recent visit to New York City was in January about a decade ago. I was pleased to find a nice hotel room in a convenient location for something in the area of $120, plus of course the city's pesky hotel tax and various other taxes that brought the nightly charge to about $150. Imagine my surprise, then, when on checking prices on recently, I found rates for January in chain hotels in midtown for less than $100--the Best Western President Hotel at Times Square has rates starting at $95, while the Hilton Garden Inn New York on W. 35th Street offers rooms for as little as $98, I suppose we have the economic downturn to thank for the lower rates.
And it's not just in New York--in Washington a room at the Four Points by Sheraton at 12th and K can cost as little as $80. Even the elegant Mayflower, haunt of the rich and famous, has some offerings starting at $149, while for $125 you can score a double room with full service kitchen at the Carlyle Suites Hotel at 1731 New Hampshire Avenue. The latter option would be especially good for families and longer stays, since eating in is almost always cheaper than eating out.
In Chicago, the pleasant Allerton Hotel has rates as low as $119 a night, while the Courtyard by Marriott Chicago Downtown beats them by $10.
If the cold of northern cities does not appeal, consider Las Vegas or a Caribbean cruise. Prices at some Vegas hotels are amazingly low--from $22 for a room at the Hooters Casino Hotel or at Circus Circus, from $29 at the Excalibur. Online reviews of these hotels are not particularly good, but at these prices can you complain? Or what about a Caribbean cruise for six nights to the Western part of that sea? On one of the ships of Carnival Cruises an inside cabin goes for as little as $309 per person, and you get to visit Key West, Florida, Grand Cayman Island, and Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
You can find similar deals on other travel Websites and in other parts of the world. January in Europe tends to be cold and rainy or snowy, but since most European attractions are indoors, it can be a good time for a visit. I read one story by an expat who lives in Rome and said it was about the only time of the year when the city is not overrun by tourists and pilgrims.

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