You may have a running bucket list of places you want to visit at least once in your lifetime. But with travel getting more complicated and more expensive since the onset of the pandemic, you may be wondering how to make it to these destinations on a budget. The good news is that prices often fluctuate depending on the time of year you travel, so here are our best tips on when to avoid peak travel season and highest prices to these popular travel destinations. Considerations include airfare, accommodations and local seasonal prices and unless otherwise noted, the data comes from KAYAK.
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New York City, USA
Cheapest month to go: January
The holidays have wrapped, the NYE ball has dropped and the month can be a cold one. But, if you don’t mind packing layers, New York is still New York – any time of the year. While January may be the cheapest time of year to visit, the allure of the Big Apple is pretty hard to beat. Enjoy the prix-fixe menu of the city’s Restaurant Week (this is actually a bit of a misnomer, as it actually runs for several weeks and includes over 400 dining options), go skating in Central Park, grab deals for tickets for Broadway and so much more.
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Las Vegas, USA
Cheapest month to go: January
While you may find low rates even during the summer, when the months are hottest (just avoid June, when prices are highest), the least expensive time to go is actually in the month of January. The reason is likely because the month is the coldest, reaching only as high as 14°C. However, if your goal for the trip is to score big in any one of the city’s many-numbered casinos or catch its entertainment, then does it really matter?
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Cheapest month to go: January
You may be noticing a bit of a pattern here with these US destinations, but if Miami is on your radar, January here too is the cheapest time to visit Magic City (perhaps unsurprisingly on the coat-tails of the costliest month – December). Sure the temperatures may be on the cooler side (and in Canada, we know cold is a relative concept), with temperatures reaching only about as high as 17°C to 23°C. However, with peak season following closely behind in April and May, you really can’t go wrong with this coastal nearby destination.
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Los Angeles, USA
Cheapest month to go: October
While the city may not be cheap to live in, and has certainly given us some of the most expensive movies ever made, this doesn’t mean you have to dish out big bucks to visit – if you pick your timing right. While the costliest months to travel to The City of Angels are May and June, October is a great time to go because it’s the cheapest and all the most popular spots are still there – from Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Hotel Cabana Cafe to Venice Beach and its prime people watching, to the Santa Monica boardwalk and Melrose – there is so much to check out.
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Cheapest month to go: June to August
The great thing about flying to the opposite hemisphere is that you’re literally flying into the opposite season. For this reason, visiting Sydney, Australia, the most affordable times to fly are June through August – typically the region’s winter season. This requires a little bit of context however: it still doesn’t get to “Canada’s coldest cities” level of cold. June and July are typically coldest, with temperatures dropping to as low as 8°C, so you’ll want to pack accordingly. Still, there is loads to see Down Under; go on a beach kayak tour, visit with alpacas, enjoy the city’s many restaurants and so much more.
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Cape Town, South Africa
When to Go: June through August
Not that far from Sydney, Australia (at least judging by flights originating in Canada) is Cape Town, South Africa. This incredible spot is located on the country’s southwest coast and serves as one of the nation’s three capitals. The majestic Table Mountain serves as backdrop, which you can visit in a cable car to take in sweeping views of the surrounding area and Robben Island – the prison that once held Nelson Mandela. As for when to go, high season is considered November, December and January (see note about flipped seasons Down Under). This said, flights seem to be cheapest in January. Visit the beautiful Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, the V&A Waterfront, try out the Table Mountain cableway, one of Cape Town’s renown surfing spots, or take in the incredible sights, sounds and flavours of this unique spot.
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Dubai, United Arab Emirates
When to Go: August
Inspired by the Real Housewives of Dubai to visit this capital of the Emirate of Dubai? Avoid the crowds that come with November, December and January, and instead shoot for the summer months – particularly August. Yes, this is also the hottest month in Dubai (but really, May through to September are also hot), with temperatures regularly running in to 30°C or more, but there are plenty of options to stay cool in style and enjoy off-season perks in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the region, nicknamed The Gulf Tiger. Located in the Arabian Peninsula, south of the Persian Gulf and literally on the edge of a desert, Dubai is a city that comes alive in the evenings. Additionally, with plenty of indoor options, staying cool isn’t a problem. Visit the Burj Khalifa (the world’s highest observation deck), make most of its shopping with the Summer of Surprises – a shopping extravaganza when stores run deep sales and discounts, and even enjoy indoor skiing in the summer.
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When to Go: October
The temperatures are a balmy 24 degrees in October in this popular Thai destination, which is great because this is also one of the cheapest times to visit this city. This said, just because it’s warm, don’t expect it to be dry as May through to October is typically the monsoon season. However, if you strategically aim for the latter part of the month when the rainy season winds down, expect rainfall to decrease and more sun to shine through. Still, you’ll want to keep an eye out on water conditions, as they may not be ideal for swimming if that’s your main objective. Otherwise, spend your days at the Thalang District, visiting beaches or its brightly-coloured temples, take a bike ride through the beautiful countryside, take in the wildlife at Sirinat National Park, and, of course, enjoy that incredible Thai hospitality and cuisine.
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When to Go: October
While high season in Tokyo is considered May, June and July, October is actually a great time to visit because it’s less expensive, and the temperatures are a comfortable 18°C on average – perfect for sightseeing, while also avoiding the biggest crowds and highest prices. This said, you will have to keep on the lookout for the occasional typhoon, though there is still plenty to do in this busy, bustling capital of Japan. A perfect blend of traditional and modern, Tokyo has something for everyone. From beautiful temple festivals, food shows, to Halloween at the Shibuya Scramble Crossing (check out the crowds and costumes) or the Ikebukuro Halloween Cosplay Festival when thousands dress as their favourite manga and anime characters, to so much more, Tokyo is a must-see destination for any globe-trotter.
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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When to Go: September
High season is November to January, so your best bet is to visit this “City of God” in the month of September, when it’s cheapest, (or check out its carnivale season in February). September is also a great time to visit because you’re in the shoulder season of any major holidays, while also side-stepping the colder months. The days aren’t humid and there is little rain. Enjoy slow days at the famous Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, plan a hike through the rainforest, visit the famous Christ the Redeemer statue on top of the Corcovado Mountain, or do anything else that grabs your fancy.
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When to Go: January, October
Hotels are cheapest during Santorini’s low season in November through March and the shoulder months of April, May and October than during peak summer tourist season, but of these less popular months, January is a great time to go. This can be a damp, windy and cold time by local standards however, you’ll want to do your research and prepare accordingly. The month is the scenic island’s rainiest, with the average temperature reaching about 14°C and many of the restaurants and hotels are closed, so you’ll need to know where to look (primarily Oia and Fira). If you’re still shooting to get some sun and swimming in, then October is a great time to go (stick to the first part of the month) – a compromise between cost and best weather before the cooler months set in.
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When to Go: February
So a couple of caveats about The City of Light. Paris is Paris, and while low season is typically February to March, for the casual visitor, you’ll want to avoid the Winter/Fall Fashion Week like an outdated trend, because hotel rooms will be impossible to book. Still, this is also the month when airfare is cheapest, and while the weather can be cloudy and cool, there is some magic to the idea of spending the most romantic day of the year in such a romantic city. You may also want to stick to the last week of the month (assuming you’ve avoided the aforementioned semiannual fashion event), which will bring on some warmer days (around 10°C). This is nevertheless an ideal time to visit world-famous landmarks and museums sans the crowds, enjoy French food and wine, and take in the best the city has to offer.
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When to Go: January
London, like many other destinations on this list, is cheapest to visit just after the holidays, in January and February. The festivities have wrapped, and generally, the city goes on with little fanfare, though there is still so much to do and see. The winter months bring temperatures that hover a few degrees above zero and rain-filled days, but you can still plan to see all the attractions the city boasts, while also getting your shopping and dining in. See the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, check out Hogwarts in the snow studio tour, and loads more.
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When to Go: January
If sunny destinations are more your speed, then Cancún in January is a good bet. May to June also tend to be cheaper, as are September and October, partly because there is greater chance of rain (and possibly hurricanes), and humidity is high, keeping the crowds typical mid-March and April at bay. January will be cooler, but you won’t get the threat of hurricanes, so grab a beach towel and flip flops start planning this tropical getaway.
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When to Go: January
Like Santorini, January is Dubrovnik’s low season just as June through to September are its peak, most expensive times to visit. Known for its gorgeous, medieval architecture and as one of the most beautiful places in Europe, this southern Croatian city also served as a backdrop to Game of Thrones. Walk the Old Town, with its narrow streets, shops, cafes and restaurants, take a cable car up to the town’s peak to take in the majestic scenery and the Adriatic sea below, visit the historic Fort Lovrijenac or do take one of the many Game of Thrones tours.
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