Fall travel forecast: Prices, crowds down

If you waited until this fall to travel, give yourself a pat on the back. Gone are the summer crowds, the outrageous prices and that insane experience of being on vacation with everyone else. There may be no better time to get away.

This fall will be no exception.

But there are a few red flags (there are always red flags). A surprise State Department warning about travel to Mexico is giving some travelers second thoughts about their plans to vacation south of the border. Other dangers lurk in Europe, which has experienced terrorist activity during the summer.

Not surprisingly, the most popular destinations are domestic. You’ll want to take note of them, because while they’ll probably be a little less crazed than they were this summer, you shouldn’t expect to have them all to yourself. But there’s good news, too — travel prices are falling like the leaves.

How dangerous is it out there? Maybe a little more than in past falls, experts say. In late summer, the State Department warned U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico tourism hotspots such as Cancún, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen of an increase in homicide rates compared to last year. “Shooting incidents, in which innocent bystanders have been injured or killed have occurred,” it cautioned.

“Western Europe will likely continue to see terrorist activity through the fall into the holiday season,” says Joseph Mroszczyk, who manages intelligence products and services for Global Rescue, a company that provides security service. “In East Asia, recent provocations from North Korea could elevate the threat level in popular tourist destinations including Japan, South Korea and Guam if tensions increase further.”

So where are fall travelers headed? They’re playing it a little safer. Six of the top 10 fall destinations are domestic (see below). Orlando, Rome, Anaheim, Calif., and Honolulu top the list compiled by AAA. More than 1 in 4 Americans said they would vacation between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, citing fewer crowds, reasonably good weather and lower prices.

“Traveling during the fall season is a best-kept secret,” says Bill Sutherland, a senior vice president for AAA.

Speaking of lower prices, there’s more good news for fall travelers: Average domestic airfares will fall 2.1% this month, to $217, according to projections by Hopper, an airfare prediction app. “We’re forecasting that prices will continue to fall from their peak of $258 in June and bottom out in October at $216,” says Patrick Surry, Hopper’s chief data scientist.

Bottom line: This could be one of the best falls to travel — ever.

Dan Collins, who works for a hospital in Baltimore, is headed to Hawaii with his wife this fall. It’s their first trip to the islands. “We have no idea what to expect,” he says of their trip to Kauai. (Hint: Expect great beauty, a little rain, with a chance of a few other tourists.)

Traci Fox says she isn’t bothered by the security warnings either. Fox, a college professor from Philadelphia, doesn’t know where she’s traveling yet, but notes that it’s really difficult to play it completely safe. “I read about the travel warning to Cabo and other Mexican resorts,” she says. “Well guess what, there’s a travel warning for all of Europe, too. And Europe has a travel warning for the U.S. So live your life and travel.”

So there you have it. Lower prices, nice weather and fewer crowds, which could make this fall one for the record books. Then again, we live in a crazy world where anything can happen and nothing can be predicted — especially travel.

TOP FALL DESTINATIONS

1. Orlando
2. Rome
3. Anaheim, Calif.
4. Honolulu
5. New York City
6. Las Vegas
7. London
8. Dublin
9. Boston
10. Cancún

Source: AAA

How to travel better this fall

• Do a safety check. If you’re traveling internationally, check the State Department site for information about your intended destination. Conditions can change quickly, and news media may not immediately report on it. “It adds an extra layer of security protection,” says Carrie Pasquarello, executive director for Global Secure Resources, a security company.

• Track the foliage. For fall foliage trips, check out the online fall foliage maps before you go. Yankee Magazine’s live fall foliage map or travel booking site Smoky Mountains’ interactive map are terrific resources.

• Consider travel insurance. If you’re traveling to Europe or Mexico, consider a brand-name travel insurance policy that will cover you for a trip disruption or a medical emergency. If you’re a little nervous, consider a more expensive “cancel for any reason” policy that will let you call off the trip for any reason and get a partial refund. You can find a list of travel insurance companies on the US Travel Insurance Association website.

Underwritten by

Underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Underwritten by Enterprise

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

Underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Underwritten by InsureMyTrip

It’s simple. InsureMyTrip finds you the right travel insurance plan, every time. InsureMyTrip is the authority on travel insurance. Rated A+ for travel insurance by the Better Business Bureau. All travelers that purchase a policy through  InsureMyTrip have access to Anytime Advocates® for claims assistance.

Underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Underwritten by SCOTTeVEST

An innovative apparel brand for people who want easy access to everything they need. For those who live for every second, SCOTTeVEST lets you maximize your life. Ditch the carry-on bag and pick up a  SCOTTeVEST.

Underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Underwritten by Sungard Availability Services

Leveraging more than 35 years of experience, Sungard AS designs, builds and runs critical IT services that help businesses manage complex IT, adapt quickly and build resiliency and availability. A leading provider of critical production and recovery services, Sungard AS partners with customers across the globe, delivering resilient IT systems, infrastructure and recovery services tailored to achieving desired business outcomes.

Underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.