Fall for it all: The best of fall travel
August 21, 2023
Summer is the season that many people think of when planning their vacations. However, there are many reasons to save some of that hard-earned time off for fall travel. From smaller crowds to lower prices to the comfortable temperatures and brilliant colors of the season, fall vacations offer an excellent value, both in terms of making your vacation dollar go further and your enjoyment hitting peak levels. As you consider your fall travel options, from outdoor adventures to exploring the capitals of the world, remember to choose travel medical insurance and trip protection that helps safeguard your vacation in many ways.
Why plan a fall getaway?
Often called the “shoulder season” in the travel industry, fall offers unique advantages and flexibility for people who travel in September, October and November. Families with school-age children are no longer flocking to national parks or culturally significant destinations thanks to the beginning of the school year, while others also settle into the everyday rhythm of life after a busy summer. As a result, the lower demand leads to more-affordable flights, accommodations and sometimes even dining and beverage experiences.
Another benefit of fall travel is the cooler weather. While early in the fall you may still have summer-like highs, the best fall vacations tend to be balanced out by cooler evening temperatures. And of course, the change of seasons means, whether you’re headed to a bustling city with parks or escaping to a remote nature getaway, the vivid colors of trees and plants as they transition into winter hibernation cannot be missed.
Best places to visit in fall
Whether you love to bask in bright city lights, crave a peaceful retreat to a national park or want to indulge your taste for worldwide culture and local delicacies, travel opportunities are endless. As you explore your options, also check out our International Travel Medical Plus plan to learn about the benefits of having travel protection and travel medical. Here are a few popular fall getaways.
Happy fall holidays
Love a good celebration? Autumn includes unique, festive and fascinating events around the world.
In India, Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is a national festival that unites the country. Celebrated over five days in October or November (depending on the start of the Hindu New Year), Diwali traditions include filling homes with lights and oil lamps, exchanging sweets and gifts, and enjoying feasts and fireworks.
With the Oktoberfest happening in Munich, Germany is undoubtedly one of the best countries to visit in September. The festival centering around beer starts in late September and goes into the following month. The three weeks consist of patron-filled beer tents and non-stop traditional Bavarian music, with the original six Munich breweries providing the refreshments.
Who doesn’t love Halloween? For a particularly special haunted holiday, consider going to Ireland, where the tradition of wearing costumes originated in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. Today, the traditions are continued through festivals that create the best October vacations with music, art, sweet treats, and of course, costumes galore.
In Mexico and Central America as well as in Mexican-American communities in the United States, El Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a reverent holiday where families gather to honor the lives of departed loved ones, to welcome the return of their spirits and to kick off the best November vacations. It also includes parades and parties, such as those in the town of San Miguel de Allende, known for its lavish decorations, eye-popping parades and colorful altars filling the streets.
Head to the United Kingdom for Guy Fawkes Night on November 5, where England, Scotland and Wales set off an extravagance of fireworks in a centuries-old tradition. Also known as Bonfire Night, the date went down in history in 1605 when a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament failed.
Immerse in arts and culture
Festivals are a wonderful way to get your fill of music, visual art, and other inspiring experiences. For instance, head to New Mexico this fall for the Santa Fe Studio Tour to visit the studios of the creative souls that have made this desert city an arts mecca. Time it right, and you can also enjoy the spectacular sight of hundreds of hot air balloons floating into the sky at the nearby Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta during early October, with launches from early dawn to late night plus races, rides and more.
In Washington D.C., the Art All Night festival offers two opportunities: the chance to see how an overnight event can transform how you enjoy the visual arts while you explore all eight wards of the district. Then, during the day, the free Smithsonian museums offer an endless parade of science, art and historical experiences.
Montreal, Canada is known for its lively festival scene any time of year, but is truly one of the best places to go in September. The Festival d'Art dans les Ruelles offers performances in small alleyways and side streets across the city, while the Festival Quartiers Danses similarly brings contemporary dance to unexpected spaces. And just before the city hunkers down for the winter, the POP Montréal International Music Festival takes over the huge music scene with shows for every age.
Hit the road
Love leaf peeping and the wide-open road? Hop into a car and travel the U.S. to scope out some of the most uniquely autumn-in-America experiences.
Consider driving a segment of Route 66, or go all-in on the Mother Road with a drive from Chicago to the extreme western tip of the famed road at Santa Monica. Want to travel the west coast? Start in Lincoln City, Oregon, where the Fall Kite Festival draws fans from around the world for its giant, inventive kite creations. Head south on the Pacific Coast Highway, and you’ll eventually hit California’s wine country where you can enjoy the gorgeous red, orange and yellow foliage at vineyards across the state. Or wander away for lazy day-long hikes along the oceans and bays, knowing that if anything goes awry, our Travel Protection plans have you covered — particularly our add-on Rental Car Damage travel protection.
Want to enjoy some mountain time? Telluride, Colorado is off the beaten path, but offers some of the most incredible San Juan mountains views, plus an eight-mile gondola if you want to give your feet a break. Trail biking and jeeping in offroad areas is also popular this time of year, as are the Blues & Brews Festival and Telluride Horror Show Film Festival.
Ready for more change-of-color scenery? On the East Coast, Burlington, Vermont is known to be a peak fall foliage destination, with spectacular changing leaves, apple orchards, craft breweries, and no end of gorgeously colorful trails to explore during glorious weather.
Hit the hotspots—without the heat
If you have bucket-list destinations that you’ve avoided due to expense or crowds, this is your chance. In the fall, the most popular tourist spots in the world tend to wind down, meaning shorter lines and lower prices in places like Venice, Hawaii, Paris and Yellowstone. Just be sure to research ahead of time: While accommodations and flights might be less expensive, some popular tourist services and experiences might have limited hours or close altogether during the off-season.
How to plan for your fall travel
In addition to researching the sightseeing opportunities and services at your fall destination, there are some other things to keep in mind.
In some parts of the world, fall is just a bit cooler than summer, and you don’t need to pack dramatically differently. However, in many places, the evenings and nights are considerably cooler than daytime temperatures, so you’ll want to pack layers as well as wind- and rain-proof outerwear. Compact umbrellas and all-terrain shoes are a must.
Protect your investment — and your wellbeing — with trip protection
Research travel medical insurance and trip protection options and add them to your budget. For instance, if you have a medical need while on your trip, or if your itinerary changes due to cancellations, this coverage helps you navigate any surprises. UnitedHealthcare Global SafeTrip offers a range of coverage for any type of trip, from International Travel Medical Plus plan protection in case of needing to cancel, delay a trip due to health issues, or face a medical emergency while traveling, to International Travel Medical coverage that will take care of an accident or unexpected illness.
If you’re taking that dream road trip, the Travel Protection plan has you covered coast-to-coast in the U.S. for costs of delays, cancellations or unexpected issues, plus has an optional Rental Car Damage addition for extra protection. And there are even add-ons if you need, such as an Extreme Sports package if you’re planning a particularly exciting adventure.