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Deals, drives may color fall travel

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(CNN) -- Whether it's to avoid crowds, enjoy more temperate weather or take advantage of deals, industry experts expect the number of travelers and deals during the autumn to be robust.

"Based on what we've seen, we're cautiously optimistic that it'll be a pretty strong season into fall and winter," said Greg Laskoski, spokesman for AAA.

He cites the drop in gas prices as the main factor behind fall travelers getting behind the wheel, and said falling prices should help reduce airfares.

That means travel deals may also be bountiful this fall season. Sue Tanzman of Martin's Travel and Tours in Los Angeles, California, says "unbelievable fares" are being offered.

"There's a round-trip airfare between Los Angeles and London at $320 without tax, which is unheard of," she said. "It will be an incredible time for people to take advantage of fall travel."

She also cites fares and hotel rates for Europe and the Caribbean, in particular, as good deals.

The London plane bombing plot in August and the subsequent tight travel restrictions have not deterred travel for most, according to Tanzman, who added that she and others saw a record summer season.

More than anything, the weather will play a factor, she said. After the hurricanes of last year, Tanzman reports some are dragging their feet on booking vacations in the Caribbean, for example, which is usually a popular fall and winter getaway.

In one survey of more than 2,400 people by Trip Advisor, a travel Web site, 83 percent were planning a vacation for the autumn season.

And travelers are reportedly staying a while at their destinations. Another poll of travel agents found that two-thirds of the fall trips they booked were for six or seven days, according to Carson Wagonlit, a nationwide travel agency.

Reasons behind fall travel's growing popularity are as varied as the colors of autumn leaves, but travel industry experts say good deals and a more savvy traveler are some of the biggest forces behind the trend.

"I think travel really has become more spread out [over the year]," Tanzman said. "Anybody who's a worldly traveler does not want to go to most places in June and July and August. You want to avoid those crowds."

Sometimes, because of work or children's school schedules, travelers have limited options, but Tanzman recommends trying to visit destinations in April or May or in the fall.

"The weather's still beautiful, the prices are more reasonable, but you don't have the crowds," she said. If you really want to visit a destination, "the last thing you want to do is go stand in line."


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