(CNN) — The highly anticipated, jam-packed summer travel season proved to be challenging, to put it nicely.
Makes you yearn for a nice autumn vacation, huh? Perhaps a little less crowded, maybe less expensive, definitely less hot (in the Northern Hemisphere). And hopefully less chaotic.
Scott Keyes, the founder of flight deals and travel advice site Scott’s Cheap Flights, said the big airfare hikes of the spring have given way to lower prices. And he expects airfares to drop even more for autumn. That could be good news for people with an eye on Mexico City.
And the weather might surprise you. The city sits at a high elevation — almost 2,255 meters (7,400 feet) above sea level. And thus temperatures in October, when the dry season usually starts, tend to run in the low 20s Celsius (low 70s Fahrenheit) in the day and to around 10 C (50 F) at night.
Palm trees and blue sky frame a tropical beach in Samoa in the South Pacific.
This selection is for the adventurous traveler who likes long-forbidden fruit and doesn’t mind a long-distance challenge. A lengthy holdout during the pandemic, this independent Polynesian island paradise in the South Pacific finally reopened its borders to tourists on August 1.
Finally, Madrid and the rest of Spain will soon start to cool off from the summer’s serious heatwave. “I’d much rather go in September or October than July or August,” he said.
Greenville, South Carolina
New England is glorious but doesn’t have a monopoly on vivid fall foliage. This small city set in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is a great hub from which to see southern leaves take a bow.
The interior of the Dendera Temple in Egypt is vivid on a sunny day.
Sergii Figurnyi/Adobe Stock
“Egypt is my ‘go-to’ destination for fall,” said Justin Smith of Evolved Traveler — a member of the Ensemble Travel Group. “The weather is definitely cooling down, and the crowds have not returned to Egypt yet.”
Smith, based in Beverly Hills, California, likes the potential ease of getting there, too.
“Flights are fairly simple to arrange to Egypt with easy connections in Europe, or the Middle East such as Dubai, Doha or Istanbul,” he said in an email to CNN Travel.
A couple of Smith’s suggestions of things to do beyond the Pyramids and Great Sphinx:
• Take a break from the major sites and reserve an afternoon or an entire day for relaxing in Luxor or Aswan.
Smith’s lodging advice: Don’t pinch pennies. “It is not the ideal location for budget travel; you definitely want higher quality hotels in Egypt.”
Cape Town, South Africa
Stretching between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, South Africa’s Route 62 is known for its small towns and scenic views. We’ll take a journey in a classic car to meet locals, visit businesses, and see popular tourist attractions spread along the infamous route.
Cape Town, dramatically perched where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet, is one of South Africa’s crown travel jewels. Because it’s in the Southern Hemisphere, Cape Town will be moving into spring.
In early August, Keyes said he was seeing bargain airfares pop up from the United States to Cape Town for less than $600 round-trip. CNN Travel found round-trip flights with layovers from London’s Heathrow to Cape Town in November for around $800.
US-Canada Atlantic cruises
Margo McDonough of Blue Skies Travel Center in Newark, Delaware, said “cruising is the single-best bargain in travel these days” and likes US-to-Canada cruises in the Atlantic if you want some fall flair on your voyage.
Out of Baltimore, Adam Wolf of Adventure Horizons LLC, an independent agency in the Avoya Travel Network, seconds the notion.
“Fall foliage cruises to New England and Canada in September and October — departing from various US and Canadian cities — are a great way to see the leaves changing color while visiting quaint and historic ports of call such as Newport (Rhode Island), Bar Harbor (Maine) and various ports in the Maritime provinces of eastern Canada.”
An aerial view of famous Neuschwanstein Castle surrounded by Bavarian autumn glory.
For folks who desire a classic autumn destination, it’s hard to beat Germany’s Bavaria.
The strong US dollar against the euro will add enticement for Americans. And being in the heart of Europe, Bavaria is a relatively short haul for many millions of Europeans.
The fall 2022 round-up is good to Spanish speakers, with the capital of Argentina proving to be an intriguing pick as it enters its springtime.
Keyes said he’s seeing some bargain airfares pop up for flights to Buenos Aires.
Kareem George of Culture Traveler said, “Due to the present strength of the US dollar, both Argentina and South Africa are incredible values at the moment. Visitation has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels, which means less crowds and heightened levels of service.”
Keyes sounded more enthusiastic about the Hawaiian Islands than any other pick. He said the least popular month for tourism in Hawaii is September, a perfect time to go if you don’t like crowds and do like “a ton of great deals.”
In the first half of August, he was finding occasional bargain basement prices from the US West Coast — less than $200 round-trip.
Lauren Doyle of The Travel Mechanic, a member of Ensemble Travel Group, agrees.
“Hawaii is great for the fall because most kids are back to school, whale watching is wonderful that time of year and crowds tend to be less than the summer. … It’s the ultimate place to relax [or have] adventures or a little bit of both!”
The highest mountain of Portugal isn’t on the European mainland. It’s the Azores volcano Montanha do Pico on the island of Pico. The village Madalena is seen below at sunset.
Klara Bakalarova/Adobe Stock
They are a necklace of nine islands in the middle of the Atlantic that are a part of Portugal.
“The Azores are a beautiful destination … with gorgeous beaches and mountains and hiking,” Keyes said.
You can see the islands’ volcanic roots all around. Thermal pools, lush calderas, crater lakes and geysers are all a part of the landscape.
September is usually peak hurricane season in the Atlantic; the Azores can be affected, but the storms are less frequent and less severe than in the Caribbean and United States’ Atlantic and Gulf coasts, the CNN Weather team says. Still, keep an eye on the weather forecasts, particularly in early fall.
Fall travel prices
Travel booking app Hopper reports better price points, saying recently that round-trip international airfare had dropped nearly 20% from summer prices for travel in September and October. That marks a drop of about $180, “but still 17% higher than 2019 levels,” Hopper said in a recent email.
Cheaper flights are great, but will the summer travel chaos extend into autumn? “I think it’s going to ease up,” Keyes said.
“It’s not as though flight cancellations won’t happen in the fall, but I don’t think you’re going to see nearly the same degree of widespread cancellations because even when there’s thunderstorms, airlines will have more slack in the system to absorb those issues because they’re not going to be maxed out at full capacity.”
Fall travel could still be busy. Paula Twidale, senior vice president of travel for AAA, said the motor club and travel planning group “is continuing to see strong booking trends with tour, cruise, flights, hotels and car rentals and we expect this trend to continue into the fall and through the holiday season. AAA recommends having a plan A, B and C.”