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8 reasons to look forward to travel this fall

Aug. 29, 2022
7 min read
Man drinking cofView of Copenhagen skyline, Denmark
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Though the last day of summer isn't technically until Sept. 22, for many, the end of summer — and all that comes with it — arrives the Tuesday after Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer.

Long weekends, playing hooky for a day at the beach, backyard barbecues, late-night ice cream runs while the sun is still out: There are few things sweeter in life than summer traditions.

Though I personally enjoy those experiences, growing up in the Midwest and living in New York City and Washington, D.C., since then has also led me to associate summer with humidity and heat (not ideal for someone who sweats excessively).

My lifelong attempt to find cooler weather has led me to Chicago which, ironically, is one of the best places in the U.S. to be for the summer — a reward achieved only after surviving winter and spring, when it routinely snows through April and is cold enough to still require coats in May.

Regardless of where I live, I always look forward to the best season, which is fall, in my humble opinion.

For people like me who prefer the start of fall more than any other time of year, it's with great pleasure I present to you this list of reasons to love fall travel. (Or, depending on your perspective, reasons not to be miserable that summer is ending.)

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You can take road trips to enjoy the fall foliage

Fall foliage in Vermont. CHUN CHEN/500PX/GETTY IMAGES.

From charming towns in the Berkshires to Stowe, Vermont, the Northeast tends to come to mind when you think of fall foliage. There's likely a spot to admire the leaves near where you live, though. Mackinac Island, Michigan; Gatlinburg, Tennessee; and even the Napa Valley in California – there's no shortage of places to see leaves turn across the U.S.

From the best small cities and towns in the U.S. to hit when the leaves change to 10 great train rides that are perfect for leaf peeping, there are plenty of destinations to consider for your autumn bucket list and beyond.

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The kids have gone back to school

Although I am a childless millennial, I can imagine the sigh of relief parents breathe when sending their children back to school.

One of my favorite parts about the start of the school year was, of course, back-to-school shopping. This can be a win-win for all involved since there are many ways to use points and miles to maximize your back-to-school purchases. (And, of course, you don't have to be going back to school yourself — or sending your children back to class — to enjoy the discounts in this sale season.)

Make sure you always make the most of your shopping purchases. Use welcome bonuses for new travel rewards credit cards, leverage spending categories that yield bonus earnings on cards currently in your wallet and use online shopping portals that reward you for bonus earnings on top of the regular earnings for the purchase.

Fall is the northern lights season

Northern lights in Tampere, Finland. SAMULI VAINIOPÃÃ/GETTY IMAGES

If seeing the northern lights is on your bucket list, fall is a great time to check that item off. You can travel to one of the Nordic countries (Iceland, Norway, Finland or Sweden) or stay a bit closer to the U.S. (Alaska, Canada). However, heading above the Arctic Circle is your best chance for viewing the auroras.

Depending on the location, viewing periods for the aurora borealis begin in late August and continue through mid-May.

Given the growth of popularity among tourists seeking a view of the northern lights, we recommend using points and miles to help lessen the costs of such a trip, as TPG senior credit card reporter Ryan Smith did last year to see the lights in Luleå, Sweden.

Read more: How to plan your first visit to a national park

There’s no better time to explore the national parks

Denali National Park, Alaska. TOM CHAROENSINPHON/GETTY IMAGES

I'm planning my first trip to visit a national park as an adult this fall. One reason for that is because the 400-plus National Park Service parks in the U.S. tend to be most crowded during the summer months.

Not only do you have a better chance of beating the crowds by waiting to visit a national park until the fall, but the potential for cooler weather may also yield a more pleasant experience overall.

As a bonus, Saturday, Sept. 22 is the 29th annual National Public Lands Day. It's one of five "Fee-Free Days" per year, where entrance fees to all national parks (and other public lands) are waived. National parks are also free on Nov. 11 for Veterans Day.

It’s officially the shoulder season

Just as there tend to be fewer people at national parks in the fall versus the summer, there's less demand for travel overall in the fall, partly because families aren't traveling as much with their children back in school.

This is good news for travelers who have the flexibility to travel during the fall, particularly for those of us looking for deals, whether they be in cash, points or miles.

This concept is known as shoulder season, which is generally from September to November and January through April. In addition to deals, these periods of offseason travel also promise cooler weather and thinner crowds.

You can seek out autumnal flavors

PHOTO_CHAZ/GETTY IMAGES

Could there be anything more autumnal than apple picking? Where there are apples, you can typically find apple cider donuts, spiced apple cider, hard cider and many other apple-themed delights. Anything to do with food is reason enough to travel for me.

And, as always, Starbucks plans to release everyone's favorite fall beverage in late August this year, when it's likely still going to be too warm outside to enjoy it fully.

Nonetheless, an August pumpkin spice latte (that's PSL for short) delivery date means you'll have even more time to drink your daily dose of autumnal goodness.

Read more: How I booked a trip to see the northern lights with points and miles

Europe is on sale

Neuburg an der Donau, Germany. HARALD NACHTMANN/GETTY IMAGES

This summer has brought a mess when it comes to traveling, with canceled and delayed flights — resulting in mountains of lost baggage at airports — along with soaring airfare.

As is the case in the U.S., tourist season wanes in Europe come fall, too. This means you could find good flight deals to the continent this fall, including several European cities that are best experienced in the fall, from Mediterranean beaches to wine regions.

You don’t have to love fall to love fall travel

If you've made it thus far and are still not convinced that fall is the best season to travel, rest assured there are plenty of great reasons to hit the road that have nothing to do with foliage, pumpkin spice lattes or puffy vests.

Personally, I am of the mindset that fall is the best time to travel, regardless of destination, thanks to the generally cooler temperatures and fewer people — which really is a win-win.

Additional reporting by Melanie Lieberman.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
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  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
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Best luxury travel rewards card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 80,000 Points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees