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The last minutes of summer are ticking away, with just two days left until the official start of autumn. So while the final countdown is on, I count down for you a batch of intriguing things in the world of travel that will help you decide where to go this fall (and winter), and how to get there in the smartest possible way.

autumn road

10 Transport Apps to Help You Get Around
A technology reporter for the Guardian reveals his picks for the best 10 apps to help you navigate various transportation options. While the article is U.K.-centric, most of the apps are applicable to other cities around the world.

9 New Hotels Worthy of Your Instagram Account
Vogue magazine runs down nine new properties around the world that are chic enough to appear as a square image in your social media feed, including an artistic enclave on the beach in Nicaragua. Perhaps one will be on your travel list for this fall?

8 Adventurous Ski Holidays for 2016-17
Are you a skier? These are the hottest (coldest?) ski experiences in the world this coming season, according to the Guardian. Heliskiing in British Columbia late this fall, anyone?

7 Ways to Stay Safe When You’re Traveling Alone
Everyone travels alone at some point. Blending in, booking hotels strategically and trusting your gut are among the tips that a batch of frequent solo travelers offer in this Mental Floss article. (For more info, see 15 Mistakes to Avoid When Traveling Solo.)

6 Ways to Stay Healthy When You Travel
If anyone knows what to do to stay healthy on the road, it’s someone who hasn’t been home in nine months. In this Medium article John Fawkes intermittently fasts, takes probiotics and melatonin, and incorporates other habits into his day to stay healthy. (Check out 9 Products to Help You Stay Healthy While Traveling.)

5 Underrated European Destinations
Romania and Montenegro are among a handful of spots in Europe that more travelers should make a priority to see, says a woman who quit her New York City job to travel the world. This autumn’s shoulder season could be the ideal time to check some out.

4 Affordable Ways to Travel Long Term
Huffington Post travel blogger Shannon Ullman suggests that volunteering abroad not only is personally rewarding, but also allows you to stay in a place for a longer period of time without spending a lot of money. She offers three other ways you can afford to travel longer.

3 Off-Season Luxe Destinations for Less
Two spots in the Caribbean and one landlocked U.S. destination made the TODAY Show’s list of three well-discounted destinations for this fall.

2 People Traveling for a Year on $20,000
Writer Chris Guillebeau profiles an Arizona couple who ditched their stay-in-one-place lifestyle and hit the road, allowing housesitting opportunities to determine their destinations. Hard to believe they financed nearly the whole year merely by selling their car!

dog bark park inn cottonwood idaho

1 B&B Shaped Like a Beagle
Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you suddenly discover a bed and breakfast built in the shape of a floppy-eared dog. The blog My Modern Met features the Dog Bark Park Inn in Cottonwood, Idaho, a two-bedroom cottage shaped like a beagle. Go fetch?

Where are you headed this fall?

5 Photos to Inspire an Autumn Trip
12 Places That Shine in Shoulder Season

— written by Elissa Leibowitz Poma

I admit it: I’m mourning the end of summer — those warm days spent basking on the beach, those last rays of sun lingering late into the evening. Fortunately, one of my favorite seasons to travel lies ahead.

I love autumn trips for the cool, comfortable weather, the lack of crowds and — of course — the colors. Check out five photos to get you in the mood to travel this fall.

scottish highlands autumn

Go hill walking in the Scottish Highlands and enjoy the dramatic fall colors — without the summer crowds. (Check out our 10 Best Scotland Experiences.)

mt fuji autumn

Japan may be most famous for its spring cherry blossom season, but autumn is a gorgeous time to visit Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, with fall foliage peaking from late October through much of November.

central park new york city autumn trees

Crisp, cool temperatures and crunchy leaves underfoot make fall our favorite time to wander through Central Park in New York City.

waterton lakes national park alberta autumn

Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta is one of many magnificent Canadian parks where you can go hiking through mountains blanketed in fall colors. (See our list of the 11 Best Canada Experiences.)

amsterdam canal in autumn

Amsterdam’s canals are picturesque any time of year, but there’s nothing like biking alongside the locals under a fiery orange canopy of trees. (Don’t miss our Amsterdam city guide.)

Where do you want to travel this fall?

The Best Travel Destinations for Every Month
12 Places That Shine in Shoulder Season

— written by Sarah Schlichter

Maybe you’re sick of summer’s heat and humidity. Or maybe you’re blissfully reading this from an iPad on the beach. But whether you love it or hate it, summer’s days are numbered — and that means it’s just about time to look ahead to fall.

Where will you travel in the coming months? Here are four fall trips to consider, depending on your interests.

lake district autumn

Looking for leaf-peeping? Consider a jaunt across the pond to England‘s Lake District, whose forested hills come alive with color in the autumn months. There are plenty of places for a stroll in and around Lake District National Park.

lighthouse prince edward island

In need of a little relaxation? Combine lobster, lighthouses and laid-back charm on a road trip around Prince Edward Island, Canada. Famous as the setting for the “Anne of Green Gables” novels and miniseries, the island’s rolling farms and red sandy beaches are the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the simple beauty of the landscape.

grand knip beach curacao

Not ready to let go of summer? Head down to Curacao, known for its pastel-colored capital and peaceful white sand beaches. As one of the ABC islands (along with Aruba and Bonaire), Curacao is far enough south to miss most of the hurricanes that plague other Caribbean islands this time of year.

Which Caribbean Island Is Right for You?

oryx namaqualand south africa

Want to watch wildlife? Journey to South Africa for a taste of spring south of the equator. South Africa made it into our list of 12 Places That Shine in Shoulder Season for several key reasons: Safaris are often a little cheaper this time of year, temperatures are a little more comfortable and wildlife watchers can partake in an annual Whale Festival in Hermanus.

Photos: 10 Best South Africa Experiences

Where are you headed this fall?

— written by Sarah Schlichter

Next Tuesday marks the first official day of fall. As we mentally prepare for the autumnal equinox and the many glorious accouterments that come along with it — pumpkin spice everything — we’re bringing you our suggestions for some of the best places to enjoy the brilliant colors abroad. Read on for our picks.

Tuscany, Italy: Tuscany is romantic enough on its own, but when you throw in jaw-dropping colors (mid-September and October) and the crisp chill of fall, it’s a great place for anyone hoping to relax — particularly with a nice glass of wine.

a wine glass and grapes on a stone wall set against fall colors

11 Best Italy Experiences

Honshu, Japan: During November and December, this island bursts with fall colors, particularly in Kyoto, where fiery leaf hues surround local temples and koyo celebrations abound.

Buddhist Temple near Kyoto with fall colors all around

12 Best Japan Experiences

Nova Scotia, Canada: September and October are key months for this leaf-peeping destination. Set against picturesque lakes, the leaves there offer a worthwhile experience for travelers seeking an autumn respite closer to home.

fall colors

11 Best Canada Experiences

Bavaria, Germany: Couple bright, leafy landscapes with grand castles and mountain backdrops, and you’ve got a recipe for stunning autumn views. The best time to catch them is in October.

Bavarian castle with field and forest

12 Best Germany Experiences

— written by Ashley Kosciolek

Grand CanyonAugust is over; to many, this means that summer has left town and fall is pulling its car into the driveway. But if you’ve got a case of the first-day-of-September blues, perk up. Falling leaves signal falling prices in the travel space. And we’ve got proof. Feast your eyes on the following four fabulous fall packages, which offer shoulder-season savings in top destinations: the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Vegas and the Grand Canyon.

$100 Savings, Rental Car Steals and More in Las Vegas
Southwest Vacations is running an enticing Las Vegas sale, piling deals on top of more deals. The savings include up to $100 off packages plus up to 30 percent off your hotel stay, 20 percent off car rentals and more. The longer your trip, the more you save. (You have to stay five nights or longer to get that $100 discount.) This deal is valid for travel through the end of December.

Deep Discounts at the Grand Canyon
Two- and three-night Grand Canyon Railway packages are on sale for travel through the beginning of November. Discounted packages start at $390 per couple — a savings of $88 — and include accommodations and train travel to the Grand Canyon. Some of the pricier packages (the $575 three-night Canyon Limited package and the $772 three-night Canyon Limited Plus package) include a stay inside Grand Canyon National Park at the Maswik Lodge North, which is a short walk from the canyon rim.

Half-Off All-Inclusive Adventures in Aruba
Travelers can save up to 55 percent on all-inclusive fall stays at the Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort Aruba when they travel by October 31. We found all-inclusive nightly rates as low as $315 (for two people) for a week-long stay in October. The beachfront Aruba resort’s all-inclusive rates cover unlimited meals, some alcoholic beverages and non-motorized water sports. Additionally, kids ages 12 and younger stay free.

Cut-Rate Costa Rica: Save 60% on Vacations
Fall marks the last few months of Costa Rica’s rainy season, and it’s an excellent time to find discounts on hotel stays and packages in the region. We found a great one: TravelByJen.com, a discount travel agency, is offering a seven-night Costa Rica package with roundtrip airfare, accommodations and a car rental for just $599 per person. Airfare prices are based on travel from Fort Lauderdale, but you can find quotes for travel out of your local hub on TravelByJen.com.

— written by Caroline Costello

airfare deal U.S. airlines are courting shoulder season travelers by slashing fares on fall flights to as little as $34 each way. Carriers including AirTran, Virgin America, Frontier and American have announced significant fare reductions for domestic routes (plus some flights to Mexico and the Caribbean). But buyer beware: Restrictions — from baggage fees to blackout dates — can make an airfare deal, well, not so much of a deal.

How do you get the best price for your particular itinerary? It all depends on which cities you’re flying between, what your travel dates are and how many bags you want to check — so it’s important to search for your itinerary on multiple airline Web sites to see where you can find the cheapest rates (and check out our airline baggage fees roundup for info on different airlines’ checked bag charges). To give you an idea of which bargain may be best for you, here’s a brief rundown of what’s on offer:

AirTran Airways
This systemwide sale includes hundreds of discounted routes with fares starting at $54 each way before taxes. Available travel dates are broad: fly through the end of January on any day of the week except Fridays and Sundays.

What’s the Catch? There are some holiday blackout dates, and your first checked bag costs $20.

Virgin America
Travelers heading to California or Las Vegas can book flights for as little as $39 each way before taxes. This includes noteworthy coast-to-coast fares like Washington D.C. to Los Angeles for $109 each way.

What’s the Catch? Travel dates are limited. You’ll only get the very cheapest fares by traveling between September 14 and October 6 on select days of the week. Plus, each checked bag costs $25 each way.

Frontier’s offerings include discounted flights to cities throughout California, the Midwest, the Rockies and other U.S. regions, starting at $34 each way before taxes. Travel is good through December 15.

What’s the Catch? Flights are not available on Fridays or Sundays, and a $20 fee applies to each of your first two pieces of checked luggage.

American Airlines
Fares start at $59 each way plus taxes, and this deal encompasses a wide range of travel dates. You can fly through the end of January.

What’s the Catch? Look out for numerous holiday blackout dates, including seven blackout days in November. You can only fly on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Keep in mind that American charges $25 each way for your first checked bag and $35 each way for your second checked bag.

To see more cheap flights, check out our Airfare Deals. Which deal do you think is the best? Will you be booking fall travel with any of these airlines? Post your comments below!

–written by Caroline Costello

boston fall New England and Canada are immensely popular autumn destinations — but that doesn’t mean there aren’t fall deals to be found in these parts of the world. You just have to know where to look. We did some travel deal detective work and unearthed several exceptional bargains in harvest-time havens from Maine to Montreal. Travelers can look forward to blazing foliage, crisp autumn weather and fun fall festivals when visiting these regions in September and October.

Third Night Free on Maine’s Coast
This October, get a free night’s stay at Cedarholm Garden Bay Inn, an oceanfront property located in the Camden, Maine area. The inn’s guest cottages, which start at $225 per night, all have private decks overlooking the water. Guests wake up to a complimentary Continental breakfast served each morning.

7-Night Canada/New England Cruise from $549
Pay less than $80 per night — that’s roughly half off standard fares — for a week-long Caribbean Princess cruise sailing roundtrip from New York on September 18. This leaf-peeping cruise stops in scenic ports including Halifax, Bar Harbor and Newport.

Save 25% in Montreal
Receive 25 percent off weekend stays at the Hotel Omni Mount-Royal, a centrally located Montreal hotel set in the city’s popular Golden Square Mile neighborhood. Discounted nightly rates start at $104.25 CAD for travel before December 30.

U.S. Fares from $44 OW
AirTran‘s latest systemwide sale includes low-priced flights to fabulous fall destinations like Boston; Portland, Maine; Rochester; and Buffalo. These sale fares are valid for travel through mid-December, and must be booked by August 24.

Save 25% on Northeast Regional Train Travel
Travelers departing from New York, Washington D.C., Boston and Philadelphia can get discounted Amtrak tickets to lovely New England towns like Providence, New Haven and Stamford. Discounted tickets start at just $10 each way when booked 14 days in advance.

Save 30% on Boston Hotels
For a limited time, travelers heading to Beantown this autumn can take advantage of reduced rates at dozens of local hotels. Book with Hotels.com by August 30 and save up to 40 percent on accommodations in Boston. This deal features nightly rates as cheap as $58 (for the Westgate Hotel and Conference Center), plus discounts at upscale properties including the Copley Square Hotel and the Langham, Boston.

Find more bargains in our Discount Travel Deals.

Editor’s Note: IndependentTraveler.com is a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network, an operating company of Expedia, Inc, which also owns Hotels.com.