Arthur Frommer

Cheap times for Europe, best times for Washington, D.C.

I’m sad to report that there no longer seems to be any doubt that travel to Europe has been hurt by the terror attacks in Paris and Brussels. Trans-Atlantic trips from the U.S. currently are down by about 5 percent, and though the biggest drop has been to Belgium, most other popular destinations also have been affected. The result of that fall-off? It appears that some persistent folks are finding bargain-priced flights to Europe when they consult the Internet; one traveler I know was astonished to secure a $700 round-trip ticket between New York and London on a major carrier in the peak month of May.

Since the chances of anyone to encounter dangers in Europe are statistically insignificant, this news of lower fares should actually do much to check the decline. Not only must we not give up the pleasures and rewards of European travel, but we cannot permit the terrorists to affect our lives. When we put off such a trip, we hand them a victory – and none of us wants that.

▪ Travel to Washington, D.C., is enjoying a different upward trend; families that went there during the recent spring break (which coincided with cherry blossom time) report that the lines to enter famous museums of the Smithsonian Institution often were an hour in length. Since these vacation periods will occur later next year, savvy commentators are warning that the peak times for travel to the nation’s capital will be July of this year, and April and July of 2017. If at all possible, a decision to visit during other months will ensure a better experience of shorter lines.

▪ Where to go if you must travel in April and July? Consider Nashville, Tennessee. Known as America’s “Music City” and also called the “Athens of America” (because it enjoys 24 colleges and a full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Greece), it has never been more compelling. The Grand Ol’ Opry continues to enchant visitors with its colorful shows, and dozens of cafes, restaurants and bars present younger country-music singers and musicians hoping to be discovered. Plus, if you’ve never had the Nashville specialty of “hot chicken” (southern-fried chicken that is heavily spiced), you’re missing one of America’s great culinary treats.

▪ The current big news in travel takes the form of boycotts. One state and city government after another (New York, Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, Washington, Atlanta, San Francisco, Seattle and more every week) are now prohibiting their staffs from traveling for non-essential reasons to Mississippi and North Carolina, punishing those two states for their recent legislation permitting discrimination against gay or transgender people. I won’t comment other than to say that each American must follow his or her conscience in considering whether to visit these hotbeds of prejudice against one’s fellow Americans.

Note to the reader: Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip. The information in this column was accurate when it was released, but prices are competitive, sometimes limited and can always change without notice.

Arthur Frommer is the founder of the Frommer’s Travel Guide book series. Find more destinations and read his blog at frommers.com.

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