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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).

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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.

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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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
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  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • 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

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees