That dead time can lead to some desperate measures. Hotels.com just concluded a two-day sale offering customers 50% off hotel rooms for stays through Feb. 7, including $65 rooms in Washington, D.C., $73 nights in Chicago and $80 stays in Barcelona. Southwest (Stock Quote: LUV) and recent acquisition AirTran are trying to woo air travelers with round-trip airfares including a $258 package from Seattle to Atlanta and a $118 fare from Charlotte to Orlando for flights from Jan. 13 through mid-May if booked by tomorrow. Alaskan Airlines' (Stock Quote: ALK) Frontier, meanwhile, has flights from Houston to Denver for $90 round-trip for trips between now and March 7 for those who book before Jan. 12.
Since it's smack in the middle of the winter low season for much of Europe, it's not such a bad time to hop across the Atlantic, either. Lufthansa's been running a sale since December that features round-trip fares from New York to Dublin for $507, from Boston to Barcelona for $696 and from San Francisco to Zurich for $866. Those fares apply now through late March and travelers still have until Jan. 12 to book them. Air France has a similar promotion running through Jan. 12 with round-trip flights from New York to Istanbul for $622, Los Angeles to Moscow for $712 and Houston to the warm winter lights of Paris $742.
Even deals to the Caribbean aren't out of the question. Cheap Caribbean is offering a three-night stay at the Radisson Resort Grand Lucayan in the Bahamas and airfare for $374 through February when you book by Friday. JetBlue (Stock Quote: JBLU) Vacations, meanwhile, provides airfare to Turks and Caicos and a three-night stay at the Comfort Suites (Stock Quote: CHH) Ports of Call for $445 per person at the end of January.
"It tends to get busier when February vacations hit because a lot more people tend to be traveling," Banas says. "Carnival season starts to happen in the Caribbean so you start to see a lot more high-season travel there later in the month."
Even the destinations themselves are trying to deal their way out of the winter doldrums. Disney's (Stock Quote: DIS) theme parks shouted out their latest promotion to anyone within earshot of Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve or college bowl games this New Year's when it announced its four-nights-for-the-price-of-three hotel promotion for late February and March. In Vegas, Southwest's vacation arm is offering airfare and three nights at the pyramid-style Luxor hotel starting at $124. The city itself is promoting 40% to 50% room discounts at casinos such as Circus Circus, with rooms starting between $26 and $28 in what is usually Vegas' high season.