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By Nina Kokotas Hahn

Those of us in the travel industry know a little secret about a nifty window of travel opportunity that comes in the spring and fall. It’s called “shoulder season,” and it’s one of the best times of the year to score serious travel deals to popular hotels and vacation destinations — up to 30 % less than summertime pricing.

So forget the dog days and book spring travel now to experience perfect weather, fewer crowds, and fantastic flight and hotel deals to some of the world’s top travel destinations.

Here’s our list of top 10 destinations where you can save big on a spring vacation.

1. St. Lucia -30%
2. Ixtapa, Mexico -28%
3. Seattle, WA -26%
4. Bermuda -20%
5. San Diego, CA -15%
6. Myrtle Beach, SC -14%
7. London, England -13%
8. Reno, NV -12%
9. Portland, OR -9%
10. Puerto Plata, DR -8%

We’re not playing favorites, but here’s a few standout spots for last-minute travel this spring:

St. Lucia: perfection in bloom

st-lucia_overview_introWinter may be high season for this Caribbean island, but nothing beats spring in St. Lucia when you’ll find up to 30% off typical prices, and no shortage of things to do. May 1-9, check out the St. Lucia Jazz festival, a major Caribbean music festival with 2010 featuring artists like Ne-Yo, Maxi Priest and Shaggy. Water sport and diving enthusiasts will also enjoy the island’s sparkling waters and native marine life after the winter and spring break crowds have departed. And did I mention the weather? Spring in St. Lucia means temps in the mid-80s a low occurrence of rainfall, and dodging the start of hurricane season. Resources: St. Lucia vacations, St. Lucia hotels

Portland, Oregon: last-minute travel in disguise

portland_overview_introLooking for last-minute travel? Check out Portland for the perfect combination of savings and splendor. In this diverse city you’ll find cultural experiences, eco-friendly options, and some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the country. It’s also the perfect base from which to venture out on day trips to the beautiful Oregon Coast, the Willamette Valley wine country and the prominent Mount Hood. Now through April 25, you can also visit the 25th Annual Tulip Festival in Woodburn, about one hour outside of the city. Resource: Portland vacations, Portland hotels

London, England: a European travel steal

london_overview_introFrom Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard to the London Eye and the Victoria and Albert Museum, the list of attractions in historic London is a long one — and so are the lines to see them if you wait until summer. If you’re tight on a budget but big on sightseeing, visit London in springtime for a more rewarding travel experience (up to 13% off) and no shortage of events to fill your days. Celebrate English Heritage during St. George’s Day festivities from April 23-25or get in the spirit of spring at the Chelsea Flower Show from May 25 – 29. Resource: London vacations, London hotels

San Diego, California: tried, true and still unbeatable

sandiego_mp_introOK, you really can’t go wrong no matter what time of year you visit southern California, but there’s a good chance you won’t see savings like this come summertime. With up to 15% off typical summer package pricing and a whole slew of spring events from which to choose, it’s a great time to plan a long weekend getaway to sunny San Diego. Where to begin? A couple of my favorite events include the Sicilian Festival in downtown San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood on April 23 and the Annual Mission Federal ArtWalk from April 24 – 25 featuring over 300 artists will be showing and selling their work. If you’re traveling with the kids, check out one of the city’s many theme parks where you’ll enjoy much shorter lines before the summer crowds arrive. Resource: San Diego vacations, San Diego hotels

*Based on Hotel and Air + Hotel bookings made on Orbitz by 4/2/10, for travel between 4/1/10  and 5/31/10, compared to Hotel and Air + Hotel bookings made on Orbitz for travel between 6/1/09 and 8/31/09.

Nina Kokotas Hahn recently joined Orbitz Worlwide as a Writer-Editor.  Globetrotting since infancy, she’s also the daughter of a travel agent and knows a thing or two about finding great travel deals.

Tagged: California, Caribbean, Family time, Top 10 Lists

Nina Kokotas Hahn

Nina Kokotas Hahn

Nina Kokotas Hahn is a travel writer and Chicago journalist whose work appears in Chicago magazine, HuffPost Travel and Condé Nast’s HotelChatter. Globetrotting since infancy, she’s the daughter of a travel agent and considers thrill seeking part of the DNA. Find her on Twitter at @ninakhahn.

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