BreakingModern — Traffic jams and crowds at Trader Joe’s make me hungry to escape my local scene. But where are the deals? Anne Banas, executive editor of SmarterTravel.com, helped us create BreakingModern’s list of five great international travel spots for hip escapes, right now.
Last month, Berlin celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Next year is the 25th anniversary of reunification, so it’s an exciting time to visit. Banas said Berlin has fabulous architecture and cool museums such as the Checkpoint Charlie Museum.
Underground restaurants are also in right now. Usually you need to get on a mailing list to dine at a private supper club and to find out if they will offer a dinner during your visit. Phoebe in Berlin, for example, sporadically offers meals for 12 guests prepared by a Taiwanese chef named Phoebe. I found Phoebe’s supper club and a few others by googling “underground restaurants, Berlin.” Although Banas recommended Air Berlin for airfare deals, I found cheaper November flights on Aeroflot from JFK ($892) or LAX ($1,091) to Berlin.
SmarterTravel.com frequently finds airfare deals to Iceland and various European cities on Iceland Air. Banas said the airline recently had a $700 roundtrip fare from New York to Reykjavik. When she visited Iceland last month, she met a traveler in his 20s who was desperately recharging his iPhone and GoPro at the airport. He told her that he had used his phone to book his flight and rental car but had waited until his arrival to book lodging. Banas said that when the volcano is active, you can watch eruptions from the ground or take an eruption sightseeing flight. She flew over the volcano and highly recommends an aerial view if you can afford it. Iceland Air also offers a free stopover in Reykjavik when you fly to various European destinations, such as Copenhagen.
Copenhagen is a great city for discovering food and festivals. Denmark is popular with travelers focused on sustainability, especially if they enjoy bicycling. Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and proudly boasts more than 242 miles of bicycle paths. City Bike, its bike share program, presented former President Bill Clinton with a bicycle called “City Bike One” (in a nod to Air Force One) when he visited in 1997. Both Iceland Air and Air Berlin frequently have deals to Copenhagen. When we checked prices for late November flights on Iceland Air, the lowest fare from Seattle was $1,812 with a stopover on the outbound flight. The lowest fare from New York was $1,285. Prices include taxes and a free stopover in Reykjavik on the outbound leg. Our search for November flights on Air Berlin from New York to Copenhagen turned up roundtrip fares as low as $647.
SmarterTravel and other websites, including TripAdvisor, frequently highlight package deals to Asia, especially Vietnam. On March 29, 1973, the U.S. withdrew its last troops from Vietnam. Since the 40th anniversary was commemorated in 2013, U.S. travelers have been flocking to visit this exotic destination. The Saigon Opera House, the Ho Chi Minh City Museum and the War Remnants Museum are popular attractions. And sampling street food is a must. Banas said that Air China recently had an airfare deal from Houston for $876. When we searched Skyscanner for airfare deals in late November, we found the best deals were to Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam Airlines had a roundtrip fare of $828 from San Francisco International, and EVA Air had an $869 fare from JFK.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Historic hotels and increased airline competition put San Juan on our radar. The historic Condado Vanderbilt is set to re-open on December 1, 2021 following a $200 million makeover of the hotel built by Frederick William Vanderbilt in 1919. The hotel features a casino and several swimming pools, and its spa will have the first Hammam in Puerto Rico. Rates start at $350 per night. The Condado area is known for its nightlife and great eateries. And for travelers who prefer more offbeat lodging, we recommend Hotel El Convento in Old San Juan, which was originally a Carmelite convent when it was built in 1646. The hotel’s History Vacation Package starts at $235 per night. Roundtrip airfares in early December on JetBlue from JFK to San Juan start at about $344 roundtrip, while airfares from LAX hover closer to $500.
If you are flexible and willing to buy before knowing every detail of your trip, you can often grab last minute deals using the CheapOAir, Priceline or Hotwire apps for iOS, Android and other smartphones.
For BMod, I’m Terry Gardner.
First image/Featured image credit: “Checkpoint Charlie” and “German Historical Museum” by Wolfgang Scholvien, courtesy of VisitBerlin
Second image credit: Condado Vanderbilt hotel exterior, courtesy of Condado Vanderbilt Hotel