With Jack Frost nipping at your nose, you might begin to wonder how much longer these gray and gloomy days plan to stick around and when warmer temperatures will once again be in sight.
A much needed vacation might just be the remedy for your wintertime blues.
Local Travel Agent, Kelly Gonzalez filled Florissant Patch in on what deals are up for grabs that promise swimsuits, shades and sun.
Florissant Patch: Why does the need to get away appear to become more popular in the winter?
Kelly Gonzalez: We get a lot of people in the winter who are planning to get away in the winter and who are planning for spring break. We get a lot of people who want to get away during the winter months, just not necessarily during the holidays.
Patch: Which places seem to be the most popular?
Gonzalez: Hawaii is very, very popular. We’re seeing a lot more of that. People want to get that exotic feel but still stay in the U.S. and not need a passport.
Patch: What’s the price range for a winter getaway? Are they lower or higher than summertime?
Gonzalez: Price all depends on where you book, when you book, how many people are traveling. So targeting a price for that is kind of difficult. I can say that a destination that is very economical and popular is Vegas, and that’s pretty popular all year long. It’s a good vacation with a nice value where you can get away. And it’s not just gambling. There’s all kinds of things to do in that area. We’re hoping Europe will come down a little bit in the next year because the price for airfare has been tough.
Patch: What are cruise prices like during the winter months?
Gonzalez: The least expensive time to cruise is in the fall months. The most expensive time is anytime over a holiday like Christmas, New Year's, spring break and during the winter months. The shoulder season, more of the middle season, is like May into the summer. A lot of times people tend to think that prices are lower in the fall because it’s hurricane season, which is not necessarily accurate. Most of the time it’s because the kids are going back to school. So that’s when the prices go down.
Patch: What are some vacation packages or deals that are fairly inexpensive that people might be overlooking?
Gonzalez: Cruises all across the board are usually a pretty good value. The only thing that generally takes them up or down is the airfare. If you book far enough in advance, you can get some really good deals on some cruises and last-minute cruises. It’s just the air that can sometimes be tough. For example, I had a gentleman come in this morning looking at booking a four-day cruise out of New Orleans, so they’re driving. The cruise was only like $300 with tax so that was a good value, and he wasn’t needing to fly, he could drive and save some money on that. We also get wonderful deals on Disney. We have some tour companies who will put together an all-inclusive package together for people including airfare and hotel to places like Cancun and Jamaica.
Patch: Depending on the place, how far in advance do people wanting to vacation in the next couple winter months ahead, need to book?
Gonzalez: In some cases, it can be cheaper but they try not to do that because the people who booked well in advance obviously expect the better deal. So they, cruises included, try to keep it at a fairly level playing field and not do any last-minute deals. But like next month, we will probably get some last-minute deals on trips to Cancun or Punta Cana. But anything you’re booking during a holiday or winter months can be hard to get a last-minute deal on because there’s not many available flights any more. We recommend booking six months in advance or more if possible, because a lot of times if the price goes down, we can get it adjusted.
Patch: Are there any last-minute deals out there?
Gonzalez: There aren’t any specific deals per se, but in January, for the first quarter of the year, we always have all kinds of promotions. So we’ll have a cruise a week starting toward the end of January. Disney month is January. We’ll also have Hawaii deals.
Patch: Due to the economy, have you noticed any decrease in folks taking a winter vacation?
Gonzalez: Yes and no. A lot of people aren’t going away for the holidays as much because the holidays are more for family vacation rather than regular vacation, so they’re usually a bit more higher priced. But we do get a lot of people who book in the winter for somewhere warm. They’re cold, so they book in the future for someplace warm for spring break or the summer. And a lot of people like to make payments, they don’t want to have to pay all at once so they book it six months or a year in advance.