Take advantage of off-season prices and favorable exchange rates.
With Labor Day just around the corner, summer is coming to a rapid close. But with the arrival of fall, travelers can take advantage of one of the most affordable seasons for travel.
According to data pulled by Quicken exclusively for Travel + Leisure, there are a handful of destinations where your money will go really, really far between the months of September and November.
And that means all-around savings on everything from flights and accommodations to transit (local buses and car rentals, for example) and a dollar conversion that works in your favor (or, at least, one that doesn't work against you).
From tropical islands to windswept European islands — and one small South American country that spans both the rainforest as well as the Andes — these are the five international destinations where you’ll get the most bang for your buck this fall.
It’s easy to find affordable flights to Barbados under $300 from cities all across the United States, like $271 round-trip fares from San Francisco and $295 fares from New York City. Once there, you’ll find your money goes twice as far. The current exchange rate is approximately 50 Barbadian cents to every one U.S. dollar.
Upon arrival, you can find accommodations for every price point, including vacation rentals, like Airbnb, for as little as $26. Mid-range and high-end hotels start at $110 a night (the colonial-style Sea-U Guest House has a top-floor, ocean-view suite for only $109 a night this fall).
Getting around with public transport will cost you pocket change — about $2 — and there are a number of cheap or free attractions to keep you occupied. We particularly love the Barbados Wildlife Reserve (where indigenous Barbados Green Monkeys roam) and the Animal Flower Cave: a dramatic cave that opens out to the ocean and is filled with pools deep enough for swimming. Entrance to both is free.
Dining in Barbados is also affordable. Try the national dish (flying fish, often fried and served with grits-style cou-cou) for as little as $10 at the roadside Cutters of Barbados café. Add a bottle of local Banks Beer for only $3 more.
Iceland’s change in daylight and weather makes it drastically more affordable to visit in the fall than in the summer — especially if you can wait until November to visit.
You’ll contend with increasingly short days, but flights can be outrageously cheap (WOW Air is known for selling $99 one-way fares from cities across the U.S. to Reykjavik). In November, we found $320 round-trip flights from Chicago, $300 flights from the New York City area, and $370 flights from Los Angeles and Miami, and even $270 flights from San Francisco.
The Icelandic krona is valued just slightly less than the dollar right now — about 93 Icelandic krona to every U.S. dollar. But accommodation rates dip significantly in the off-season. According to Quicken, you can book a guesthouse for $85 a night through Airbnb.
Another affordable option is Kex Hostel — a trendy property where shared dorms start at $39 and private rooms cost a still-reasonable $166 per night.
Food and transportation will be your most surprising expenses during a trip to Iceland. Even in the fall, food can be quite pricey. Your best options are the country’s famous hot dogs and hot soups for a bargain.
To maximize your savings in Iceland, avoid attractions like the Blue Lagoon and Silfra Fissure snorkeling. Instead, rent a car (prices start at $406 for a week-long 4x4 rental) and spend your trip admiring the country’s bountiful — and free — natural attractions.
Travelers can loop around the Golden Circle to see the glacier-fed Gulfoss waterfall and the sulfurous hot springs at Geysir, or head east to the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. Hiking in Skaftafell National Park is another free activity. There are a number of trails for every skill level: just be sure to pack a headlamp.
While Bermuda will cost you more across the board than a trip to Barbados, it’s hard to argue with the convenience (non-stop flights from the East Coast are just over two hours in duration). From New York City and Boston, flights start in the low-$300s, with flights originating in Chicago costing $380 round-trip.
Guesthouses in Bermuda during the fall start at $49, and a mid-range hotel will cost you between $176 and $250 per night. If you want to splurge on one aspect of your stay, however, this is where to do so.
At the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club (which is fresh off a $100-million renovation that added a striking infinity pool and a Marcus Samuelsson restaurant), rooms can cost hundreds of dollars a night. But check for special offers — the Endless Summer package, available in the off-season, lets you stay for a third night free (making effective rates as low as $239 per night).
Watch out for cheap street food during your stay in Bermuda (fish chowder and black rum cake), where prices range from $3 to $10. And make sure to have a traditional codfish breakfast at least one morning of your stay.
Because the Bermudan dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar, you won’t find any savings in the currency. So stick with public transportation ($3.50 to $5) and low-cost attractions. You can visit the 19th-century Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse, for example, for only $2.50 a person. And there are regular, free Gombey dance and music performances in Hamilton’s Queen Elizabeth Park.
Depending on where you fly into, flights to the Dominican Republic can be quite cheap. To Santo Domingo, they’ll start at $352 round-trip from New York City.
According to Quicken, West Coast-based travelers can find flights to the Dominican Republic starting at $470 from cities in California.
Rent an Airbnb for $25 a night, or book a hotel room for only $64 (try the Hotel Doña Elvira in Santo Domingo’s central Zona Colonial).
Travelers headed to the Dominican Republic will have the most favorable exchange rate ($1 U.S. to every 0.47 Dominican pesos). And transportation here is mind-blowingly cheap, too. A public transport ticket won’t run you more than 25 cents.
If you want to splurge on activities, spend $40 per person on a horseback riding adventure along Uvero Alto beach. (Of course, the Dominican Republic has a number of extraordinary beaches you can enjoy for free, too.) Hiking in Los Haitises National Park is also free, if you’re traveling along the northeast coast.
While here, order at least one bowl of sancocho, the Dominican Republic’s signature meat stew ($18 to $20).
Depending on where you’re located, traveling to Ecuador might be the most expensive option on the list. (Flights from San Francisco will cost $444, $429 from New York City, $422 from Chicago, and upwards of $500 from Los Angeles.)
But once you land, you’ll enjoy instant relief. While Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar, a vacation rental can be found for as little as $16 per night. Mid-range hotels with amenities start at $100 (unless you want to stay at the design-driven Casa Gangotena).
Stop and try the street food in Ecuador, which is incredible: ceviche, arroz con pollo, and fried llapingachos (potato cakes) will cost you just $2 to $5. You can also cool off with a $1.25 beer.
Adventurous travelers may want to splurge on a plate of cuy, or guinea pig, which is often spit-roasted and served whole.
Ecuadorian activities range from laid-back beach days (totally free) to more involved excursions. Hiking in Cajas National Park, which has giant hummingbirds and pristine lakes, is another wallet-friendly option — though you may be want to opt for a day trip to the Quilotoa crater lagoon in the Andes ($69 per person as part of a guided excursion, $2 for entrance-only to the Quilotoa volcano).