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Time your travel

Off-season travel or off-beat locations are the surest way to big savings. Here is a holiday calendar to help you plan a memorable trip at affordable rates.

HOT DEALS
Interesting packages to look out for

Solluna Resort
Corbett National Park

Solluna Resort

Cost:
Rs 9,999 for two
Contact: 1800-111-222
Located in the middle of one of India’s most celebrated wildlife sanctuaries in Uttaranchal, this resort offers activities ranging from elephant safaris to horse-riding.The two-night package includes accommodation in a superior cottage, breakfast and a choice of lunch or dinner.Offer valid till 30 September.

The Amarvilas
Agra

The Amarvilas

Cost:
Rs 42,000 for two
Contact: 1800-112-030
The Oberoi hotel is offering a twonight romantic package complete with a candle-lit dinner on a private terrace.The deal also includes daily breakfast and dinner and complimentary airport transfers. Booked independently, the tariff for a double room is Rs 29,500 for a night’s stay.

Going against the flow is the thumb rule for smart travellers. So if you want to save even as you live your dream vacation, think off-beat destinations or hot venues in off seasons, like visiting a beach during monsoon or a ski resort in summer. Not only does this guarantee cheaper air fares and room rates, but you also get to explore a place devoid of all tourist trappings. Fewer tourists also means a royal treatment wherever you go. Here are some domestic and foreign holiday options to help you plan better. The list features more foreign locales as most destinations in India do not have any demarcated “off season”.

January
Place:
Ladakh, India
Many people love the hills in winters, but very few consider Ladakh as a getaway. Yes, the Manali-Leh road is blocked, but the airport is still functional. Brave the erratic flights and -30 degree Celsius temperatures to trek along the frozen Zanskar river, which starts melting by February.
Off-season saving: You save up to 55% on air fare compared with peak season travel, and nearly Rs 3,000 on package tours.

February
Place:
The Dolomites, Italy
If you want a ski vacation and cannot afford Chamonix (France) or St. Moritz (Switzerland), try the Italian Dolomites. It’s still the Alps, and the snow is still thick.
Off-season saving: You save up to Rs 1,000 a night for a double room in Cortina compared with the January rates. Wait till March and you will get 20-30% cheaper ski passes and hotel rooms.

March
Place:
Mt Abu, Rajasthan, India
It may be a sardine can in summer, but in spring, the state’s only hill station is a pleasure. There’s an interesting local festival, Patotasav, and the hotel rates are much lower.
Off-season saving: A three-night stay in a budget hotel like the Lake Palace costs Rs 4,100 for a double room compared with Rs 7,900 in high season. The flight from Mumbai to Udaipur, the nearest airport, is 25% cheaper than the July fares.

April
Place:
Florida, USA
Home to beautiful beaches and Disneyland, Florida can be really hot in summer. But if you plan a trip around mid-April, the temperature is mild and hotels start lowering their peak rates. Though theme park prices start coming down in June, save by opting for, say, a sixday pass instead of for two days.
Off-season saving: Three-star hotel rooms that go for Rs 5,000 a day in winter come for Rs 3,200.

May
Place:
Bandhavgarh & Pench, Madhya Pradesh, India
This is a good time for a safari. If you are prepared to sweat it out, dried vegetation ensures easier game sighting.
Off-season saving: Both the Taj Safari lodges, Mahua Kothi and Baghvan, quote a per person room rate of Rs 18,000 compared with Rs 30,000 in winter.

June
Place:
Gold Coast, Australia
This may not be the ideal time to visit the Gold Coast, but school vacation ensures best rates by agents. You also beat the student traffic by at least a month. Though it’s winter in Australia, the weather is warm enough for snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef.
Off-season saving: Both air fares and hotel rooms are cheaper by 10-15% compared with winter rates.

July
Place:
Goa, India
Monsoon is ideal for ayurvedic therapies. So take a spa break at Pousada Tauma, an ayurvedic resort near Goa’s Bagha beach.
Off-season saving: The resort’s standard suite is for Rs 9,400 a night compared with Rs 26,000 at the Christmas-New Year week.

August
Place:
Vail, Colorado, USA One of the best winter resorts in the US, it is sensational in summer too. The melting snow makes the slopes accessible for biking, hiking, horse-riding and river rafting.
Off-season saving: Lodging is discounted by up to 60%.

September
Place:
The Sunderbans, India
If you explore the mangroves from the air-conditioned comfort of the MV Paramhamsa, a luxury river cruiser, heat and mosquitoes shouldn’t be a problem.
Off-season saving: You save up to Rs 9,000 per head for a deluxe room compared with Rs 29,000 in peak season (October-March).

October
Place:
St. Petersburg, Russia
The country’s cultural capital is arguably at its most romantic in fall. The weather is nippy, but the Hermitage, the iconic palace museum, is much quieter now.
Off-season saving: Hotels offer up to 50% discount compared with the summer rates. A standard room at the luxurious Grand Hotel Europe costs Rs 21,800 as against Rs 41,500 in July.

November
Place:
Reykjavik, Iceland
Don’t let the name mislead you. Iceland has a fairly mild weather all-year round. Yet, most tourists visit during summer, leaving late fall open for you to enjoy the wildlife, nightlife and landscapes.
Off-season saving: Pay at least 30% less than the summer rates.

December
Place:
Manali, HP, India
One of the best times to combine snow fights with a touch of heritage at the Banon Cottage.
Off-season saving: The cottage suite with two double rooms is 30% cheaper than high season rates.