Traveling this fall? Here’s what you can expect


Last fall, Las Vegas (above), New York City and Orlando, Fla., were the top three destinations for travelers, according to TripAdvisor.

David Becker/Getty Images

Cities remain a go-to. So do tropical places like the Caribbean and Cancun.

In 2020, travelers shunned urban centers for beach towns and national parks where it felt like a safer place to go, said TripAdvisor’s Brian Hoyt.

But last fall, Las Vegas, New York City, and Orlando had displaced places like Key Largo, Key West, and Atlantic City as the top three destinations for fall 2020 travelers, according to TripAdvisor.

The trend continues: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Denver, Orlando and New York are the five most booked destinations in the US this fall, according to Hopper, a travel booking site. For international travelers, cities like San Juan, Puerto Rico; Cancun; Mexico City; Barcelona; and Rome are in the top 10, according to Hopper.

“What’s old is new again,” said Mr. Hoyt. “High-density population centers are back in fashion.”

But low-key holidays are still a draw. Ocean City, NJ, a beach town about 11 miles south of Atlantic City, was the most popular destination in the United States this fall based on the number of nights booked, according to Airbnb. It’s part of a growing trend to extend summer. There has been a surge of interest from visitors who flock to the eight-mile beach in September and October, when the summer crowds leave and the town hosts events such as an antique car show and a giant block party and fireworks display, said Michele Gillian, executive director for the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Travelers remain eager to head to Europe, where demand for flights and hotel bookings is “on par” with 2019, said Kareem George, a travel consultant and owner of Culture Traveler, a company specializing in luxury travel.

“Italy is the standout,” said Mr. George, “which is not a surprise because Italy is always the standout.”

According to Expedia, London, Paris, Munich, Copenhagen and Dublin were the cities most searched for by people wanting to travel between 6 September and 15 November.

The Amalfi Coast in southern Italy and Santorini, a whitewashed Greek island in the Aegean Sea, are so popular this fall that travelers are scrambling to find accommodations, said Charles Neville, a spokesman for Jayway, a boutique travel agency that specializes in European travel.

People are so eager to visit these destinations that they are willing to spend $600 to $700 per person. night for accommodation that might not justify that amount, he said.

Mr. Neville said he encourages clients to book later in the fall, when the weather is still pleasant and the crowds have died down, or to consider Sicily, Croatia and lesser-known islands in Greece such as Paros and Naxos. “Maybe it’s a way to make your Greek island vacation dreams come true without spending stupid amounts of money,” he said.

The Americas, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Costa Rica are seeing more passengers book travel than they did in 2019, said Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights. The countries are easy to get to and plane tickets are generally cheap — round-trip fares from almost anywhere in the United States to Colombia were selling for about $260 in August, he said.

“For many people, the trip they want to take as their first return is fun, overseas, but not too far away,” said Mr. Keyes.

That kind of ease is what Silvia Sims, a retired sales executive who lives in suburban Detroit, said she and her three friends wanted when they started planning their fall trip last May. They settled in Jamaica, where Ms. Sims, 71, has traveled nearly a dozen times since the early 1980s but had not visited since April 2019.

“I’m going back to a place where I really love to visit and I feel safe,” she said. — Maria Cramer



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