Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but any travel addict will agree that the next couple of weeks are a lock for second place. Why? It's quite simple. Nobody's traveling. Roads are empty, airports almost relaxed, beaches quiet, ski resorts open but not packed, hotel rooms can be cheaper than staying home.
In this short but excellent space in time (known as "dead weeks" in the travel biz), much of the world (well, places you don't have to spend a ton of money to fly to) is your oyster. This is, for example, a fantastic time for domestic road trips, or visits to Mexico and Canada. Sometimes, the bargains are so seriously good, it's enough to make you want to cancel Christmas (and New Year's) and take your time off now.
In the old days, bargain hunters mostly relied on their own research skills to dig up the best finds, but as the annual Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping events start to become more important to travel providers, there are even more crazy sales out there to choose from.
And while it's really nice that this or that hotel chain is offering 15 percent off if you book now, pay now, go away and never ask for a date change or a refund, we're far more excited to see the values out there on more high-end stuff - deals worth getting really excited about.
Here are ten that fit the bill for us at Airfarewatchdog.com - maybe you too? Be warned though: Some of these will disappear almost as fast as they come on the market. Spontaneity is a must. Then again, if you're thinking of taking a trip in the next couple of weeks, you probably don't have a problem being spontaneous.
One of the most exclusive destination spas in the country, Miraval, is offering a 30 percent off rate of $375 (and up) per person, per night for travel through Jan. 15, with a three-night minimum. Included: Meals and most activities; they're also throwing in a $130/night credit for spa treatments and other premium stuff. Book Nov. 28 only with promo code HOLIDAY; miravalresorts.com. See the lowest available fares to Tucson (TUS).
#2 THE ADIRONDACKS
Get 50 percent off a stay at the excellent Lake Placid Lodge, easily one of the Northeast's best small hotels; this means rates as low as $250 a night, a real bargain. Book Nov. 28-Dec. 4 at lakeplacidlodge.com. See the lowest available fares to Albany, NY (ALB).
#3 WESTERN CARIBBEAN
Hop on Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas for a last-minute 4-nighter sailing from Tampa to Cozumel, Mexico and back. The dates? Dec. 1-5. The rate? $199 per person, a crazy drop from the $659 per person rate for the same cruise over New Year's. Based on availability; (800) CRUISES, cruisesonly.com. See the lowest available fares to Tampa (TPA).
The very good Fairmont Mayakoba - an easy spin from the airport in Cancun - is offering rates from $199/night for travel through Dec. 23. That's 30 percent off the usual. Breakfast, room credit and other perks are included. Available through Nov. 28 only on fairmont.com. See the lowest available fares to Cancun (CUN).
#5 LAS VEGAS
Get up to 50 percent off your next stay in Sin City - just book a Black Friday Special package of 3 nights or more (staying at an MGM Resorts hotel) with Southwest Vacations for travel by the end of January. Included: Buffet coupons and other goodies. Book through Dec. 1 at southwestvacations.com. See the lowest available fares to Las Vegas (LAS).
Get 25 percent off at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club in St. Petersburg through the New Year; this means rates starting at only $119 a night. Available Nov. 28 only, use code DOD at vinoyrenaissanceresort.com. See the lowest available fares to St. Petersburg (PIE) and nearby airports.
#7 LAKE TAHOE
The impressive Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe on the slopes at Northstar is offering an impressive "Discover" package deal from $279/night through December; it includes breakfast for two and a $100 hotel credit. Based on availability, through Dec. 31; ritzcarlton.com. See the lowest available fares to Reno (RNO).
#8 NEW ORLEANS
This is a great time to visit the Big Easy - tourism trickles to a minimum, and locals go all out to celebrate the holidays. To get you in the door, many hotels offer deeply discounted "Papa Noel" rates that start as low as $59/night. Based on availability, book at neworleansonline.com. Click here to see the lowest available fares to New Orleans (MSY).
#9 MIAMI BEACH
Get 50 percent off at the Fontainebleau resort - home to two of the best restaurants in town, Scarpetta and Hakkasan - for stays Dec. 7-23. Book Nov. 28 only; (877) 854-0131, fontainebleau.com. See the lowest available fares to Miami (MIA).
#10 ST. THOMAS
Get 50 percent off the room-only rate in the Oceanview category (this means you'll pay just shy of $150) at the Bolongo Bay Beach Resort; stay as short or as long as you like, through Dec. 22. Available through Nov. 28; (800) 524-4746, bolongobay.com. See the lowest available fares to St. Thomas (STT).