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10 Breathtaking Destinations That Are Better (and Cheaper!) to Visit in the Fall

As kids and college students alike go back to school and summer fades, traveling isn't always top of mind. Once you learn about "shoulder season" you just might change your mind, especially if you're on a budget.

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sri lankaMadrugada Verde/shutterstock

Sri Lanka

Head to Sri Lanaka, one of the top ten travel destinations for foodies, this season. Our fall is when Sri Lanka is at its best, and it’s also when some of the country’s biggest cultural highlights are. “Witness the Esala Perahera festival in Kandy, the most spectacular festival in Sri Lanka and one of the most colorful religious pageants in Asia,” says Dominique Callimanopulos, founder and president of Elevate Destinations. Surf camps and other activities in Sri Lanka also have about a 30 percent discount during the off-season, which can be found on their websites, says Kristen Slizgi, founder of The Luxury Travelist, a travel consulting company.

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Tourist destinations like Paris won’t be as crowded during shoulder season, which means less time spent waiting in line, says Rachel Swanson, a certified travel associate with Travel Leaders, a network of travel agencies. She still recommends booking tours and other tourist-y activities in advance, like dinner at the Eiffel Tower. Here are 10 unforgettable European vacations that cost less than $400!

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greecePHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek/shutterstock


The country of islands makes for a fantastic shoulder season trip because the temperatures stay in the 70s through October and in the 60s in November, says food- and beverage-focused communications agency YC Media, which works the Greece National Tourism Organization. Make sure you remember these brilliant packing tips that let you fit everything into your luggage.

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cruiseOlga Gavrilova/shutterstock

Take a cruise and see it all

Why limit yourself to just one country when you can hop around a bunch? “There are many benefits to cruising during shoulder season. Some of the best reasons to travel after Labor Day are price reductions and incentives, not to mention many of the summer promotions are extended to the shoulder season, which can include drink packages, free Wi-Fi, shipboard credit and more,” says LynnDee King, a cruise consultant for Cruise Specialists. “Aside from cost, you’ll beat the crowds, as most kids are back to school and family vacations are over. Not to mention, this in turn means it will be easier to get to attractions, restaurants and events in popular ports of call.” Find out all the insider tips you need to have the best cruise ever.

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europeMark and Anna Wilson/shutterstock

Eastern Europe

Countries like Poland and the Czech Republic make for great budget travel destinations, especially with the current exchange rates, says Swanson. Likewise, hotels tend to be cheaper in eastern European countries. Here are 50 ways you can save big bucks the next time you’re traveling.

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In a city of 9.2 million people, large crowds can make sightseeing a bit difficult. By choosing to travel during shoulder season, the city will be more accessible to tourists. “The weather is much cooler and there are fewer tourists, so it’s not as crowded at the more popular sites and destinations,” says Karl Peterson, air product manager for STA Travel. “Foliage season trumps the cherry blossom one with maple and ginkgo trees turning bright red and yellow, turning every city parks and gardens into a symphony of colors,” adds Callimanopulos.

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nantucketMarianne Campolongo/shutterstock

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Outside of the summer season, Nantucket loses the crowds but none of its appeal. “Fall weather is a little more quiet but the restaurants are still open,” says Slizgi. Plus, you don’t have to book your car ferry months in advance. These are 11 last-minute vacations you barely need to plan.

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romeprochasson frederic/shutterstock


Rome is an easy city to reach on a budget, especially when you’re traveling from another European country. Known for its beautiful ruins and excellent pizza, Rome will still be warm enough to walk around but won’t be swarming with tourists. Travelers should ask their travel agent to ask about off-season deals or inquire with the tour agency itself, says Slizgi. So next time someone tells you traveling to Rome is way too expensive, be sure to let them know these other traditional travel tips that it’s safe to ignore.

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Cambodia and Laos

For travelers who want to feel like they’re on a different planet, Slizgi, suggests traveling to these southeast Asian countries. The cost of living is so low, she says, that a four-star hotel might only warrant $50 a night. She also advises against booking everything in advance. “I always advise people to book one or two things in the beginning, but leave room to meet people and to get advice from people and go with the flow,” she says.

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new zealandMartin Dworschak/shutterstock

New Zealand

When traveling to the Southern Hemisphere, travelers should remember that the seasons are flipped. However, shoulder season, entering the fall, is also flipped; travelers in New Zealand will be on the shoulder of spring. It’s one of the 16 most incredible beauty destinations in the world and a great place to be immersed in nature. While the flight is long, the views are worth it. Be sure to plan your next trip around these mini family vacations that won’t break the bank!

Amanda Eisenberg
Amanda Eisenberg is a New York City-based journalist. She's covered everything from unlawful nursing home discharges in Maryland to excess helicopter noise in Hoboken. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Elle Decor, McClatchy-Tribune Wire Service and dozens of other publications. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland (go Terps!). In her free time, Eisenberg enjoys traveling, volunteering and cliff diving. She can be reached at [email protected]

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