By Brad Tuttle
September 6, 2014
Port of Miami, Florida.
Tetra Images—Alamy

Autumn is peak season in leaf-peeping destinations like New England. For nearly every other place on the globe, fall represents the shoulder season in between summer and winter, when temperatures and vacation prices alike are generally mild and pleasant. This in-between, quirky time for travel is also a prime season for snagging unusual deals. Check out this trio of fall-only specials:

One-Way Vehicle Rentals
Normally, travelers must pay an extra fee (perhaps $250, sometimes more) for a one-way rental, in which you pick up the vehicle in one location and drop it off in another. During the fall, however, not only are such fees waived sometimes, but rental car agencies and RV operators are known to offer big discounts on one-way trips. Why? Come autumn, rental outfits often need to rejigger their inventory, typically shifting vehicles away from summer destinations (New England, the Rockies) to hot-weather spots like Florida and Arizona, where peak season for visitors (and rental customers) takes place in the winter.

Hertz, for instance, currently has daily rates starting at $20.99 for travelers who pick up vehicles in spots like the airports at Salt Lake City or Denver and drop off in Arizona. Cruise America, meanwhile, is offering RV rentals—which can go over $100 per day—at a rate of just $30 daily for drivers who pick up in areas such as greater Seattle, Denver, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco and head to the company’s headquarters in Mesa, Ariz.

Repositioning Cruises
Like vehicle rental companies, cruise ships also periodically need to relocate based on the seasons, and the sailings that result are usually bargains for the passengers aboard. CruiseCritic recently rounded up a list of so-called “repositioning cruises,” which journey one-way rather than the usual round-trip. On autumn repositioning cruises, passengers typically depart from a cold-weather city such as Copenhagen or Boston bound for a port more appropriate for wintertime sailings, like Tampa or Miami.

In many cases, passengers wind up paying $50 or less per day when opting for such unusual one-way cruises. A MarketWatch post highlighted one upcoming Norwegian Cruise Line transatlantic repositioning itinerary as an especially good deal: A 14-day journey from Copenhagen to Miami, departing October 6, starts at a price of just $419 per person. That averages to less than $30 per person per day, before taxes, fees, and on-board expenditures are added in.

Caribbean Lodging Deals
Many destinations offer cheaper prices during the shoulder season of fall. What gives deals in the Caribbean that extra-quirky twist—and extra big discounts—is that early autumn is also hurricane season in the region. To entice travelers to visit in the sometimes iffy fall season rather than summer (the traditional vacation time for families) or winter (when people really want to escape the cold), Caribbean hotels and resorts provide especially big discounts.

The Miami Herald gathered a long list of such Caribbean deals, with discounted packages featuring free nights, spending credits, and straight-up room rate slashing. In many cases, deals and promotions are offered across entire Caribbean islands. The Get All Right Jamaica campaign, for instance, knocks 35% to 50% off more than a dozen hotel and resort packages for stays through mid-December.

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