Where not to go — and when — this year

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EdPerkins

While you may be reading plenty of “where to go in 2016” stories elsewhere, I’ll be a contrarian and address the question of places and times you should seek to avoid.

Spring break

Young folks age 16 to 21 can be quite nice when they’re alone or in small groups. But hundreds or even thousands of them, each trying to see who can drink the most beer or smoke the most pot, can render a destination area uninhabitable for their elders.

Spring break dates vary from school to school, but the high season is March through early April.

Popular destinations tend to vary from year to year, too, but for the most part you encounter lots of breakers on Florida’s East Coast beaches, the Texas Coast, and nearby Caribbean and Mexican resorts. Mass-market cruises can also be break targets.

If you’re considering a vacation during the spring break period, either avoid beach destinations entirely or choose an obscure one. And if you’re thinking about a cruise, have your cruise agency check on whether a sailing has a lot of spring break bookings before you commit.

Football weekends

In October, two years ago, I planned to visit a friend in Boone, N.C. But when I checked, all the local motels were either sold out or posting prices triple what I expected.

Unfortunately, I had picked the weekend of a big football game at Appalachian State University for my visit, and the local hospitality industry decided to cash in on the huge surge in demand. Fortunately, I was able to find a reasonable rate in Lenoir, just 25 miles away.

But that scenario is re-enacted hundreds of times during the fall season, whenever a university with a big-time football program hosts a game in its small-town setting. This problem won’t arise for another 10 months, however, so if you plan to visit a “college town,” you have plenty of time to check dates before you book accommodations.

Europe in August

When you visit Paris or London in August, you often wonder where all the locals went. The answer is simple: They went to the beach or the mountains. So if you hanker for a week in Normandy, make that week some time other than August.

Of course, the folks who run visitor attractions don’t leave, so the tourist spots will run full-tilt for the benefit of foreign visitors. But throngs of visitors can clog a city, too, so maybe just avoid Europe in August entirely if you can.

Blockbuster events

You can’t blame hotels and restaurants for hiking prices when their city or region hosts a blockbuster event. After all, Economics 101 says that price sets the balance between supply and demand.

Although you can encounter major events almost anywhere, anytime, these are so big that, unless you’re attending, you really want to avoid them:

• Political conventions.The GOP convenes in Cleveland July 18 to 21; the Dems convene in Philadelphia July 25 to 28.

• Olympic Games. The 2016 Olympic Games will be in Rio, Aug. 5 to 21. Host cities are notorious for hiking prices, and if Rio follows London’s 2012 pattern, hotel prices will be at least double the usual rates, and restaurants will either hike prices, be mobbed, or both. Steer clear of Rio during the Games — but expect some good post-games deals.

• Public holidays.Many non-Christian countries celebrate Christmas because they enjoy the festivities and the commercialization. Beyond Christmas and New Year’s, however, public holidays vary a lot around the world. Check publicholidays.global/ for any area you’re likely to visit.

• Trade fairs. In my experience, trade fairs don’t overwhelm a host city as much as they used to, but if you’re heading for Europe, check www.trade-shows.eu before you commit to a major European city.

Send e-mail to Ed Perkins at eperkins@mind.net. Perkins’ new book for small business and independent professionals, “Business Travel When It’s Your Money,” is now available through www.mybusinesstravel.com or www.amazon.com.

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