Pretty much everyone always could use a vacation. Whether you are a high powered executive working 80 hours a week or a bartender working six nights a week, either way you probably wouldn’t mind a few days off. The problem is for many of us getting together the money to make a trip worthwhile is just as hard as getting time away from work. However, there are some who have found ways to make their dollars go further and make the most of their time by looking at where they go and when they go there. Two of the ways people have figured out in order to travel on the cheap are, traveling to lesser known destinations and traveling when others aren’t. Off season travel is the type of thing that lets people without children or a traditional job go to all of the places that they might not be able to get to at its usual price point.
The most important thing about traveling in the off season is to do some research about where you want to go, otherwise how would you know when the off season is in the first place? Travelers often hear very polarizing stories about off season travel and that is usually because of the amount of research that went into the trip or knowledge somebody had going into a trip. In any case there is also just a bit of luck that goes into traveling in the off season, because the peak season is usually the peak season for a reason. Peak seasons are usually when most people interested in visiting a destination have off from work and school, and when the weather is the most palatable. The most important things to look at when looking to travel off season are the weather and the crowds.
One of the big reasons that we go to the places we do when we do is to escape the weather we are experiencing at home. People travel more often in the summer because the probability is that you will have sunnier days than any other time of the year, meaning that you won’t have to waste any days of your trip inside because the weather is too bad. However, we all know somebody who just couldn’t enjoy the trip they went on because the weather was unbearably hot or rainy. The trick then is to look at destinations that don’t necessarily hinge on good weather, something that is usually true for traveling to cities or relatively temperate places.
Traveling during the off season can save you money and give you an entirely different experience from most tourists if you can put up with the weather not being perfect. The best way to do this is to check what the weather looks like typically in the off peak months and see if you can hack it. You should also plan for a few sites or activities that aren’t necessarily weather specific that you can fallback on if you get a particularly “weather-filled” day. One thing to keep in mind when dealing with the weather out of tourist season is to check if places have a stormy or monsoon season, because travel and many attractions may not be operating fully in certain regions if they experience severe weather regularly.
Some destinations are simply seasonal destinations, people go to them during a certain time of year for a festival, for the skiing, the beaches, animal populations, etc. These things can’t be helped and if they are the sole reason that a destination is calling you then you should probably look to go during their big season or at least close to it. Remember though that many of these places still have plenty to see and do that you might not know about during their off season.
People from the same areas seem to always be on similar schedules and also tend to have similar ideas for destinations. It seems that during the month of August all of Europe is on vacation while the rest of the world flocks there. However, holidays and school schedules also play a role in when everybody seems to be traveling and so going somewhere outside of these times during the off season means that you get to miss the bulk of the crowds. Off season crowds are usually smaller which means more intimate tours and sight seeing experiences as well as fewer people competing for reservations and lodging spots.
Off season travel means that you will usually find deals on the activities in the area and on things like hotels and B&Bs. You might even end up finding that your 12 room mixed dorm at the hostel turns into your very own private room during the off season. On the downside however, because of the lack of people many activities may not be operating at full throttle or even at all. If you are planning to do some real touristy stuff make sure to check that they don’t close down for a certain time of the year.
If you have ever lived in a seasonal town then you know that tourists can get old pretty quickly. They are fun that first month of the season maybe, but things quickly blur into you not being able to move around the town as easily as you used to. Sure they are bringing in money and its probably great for the town, but you get personally inconvenienced so they aren’t gonna be your best friend. Traveling in the off season means that you are one of very few non-locals in the town at any given time. This means you get to meet far more locals and see how places actually operate on a slightly less touristy level.
There are a whole bunch of reasons to travel in the off season, and if you plan well off season travel can be cheaper and more fulfilling than traveling during the peak season. You can do a whole lot of research online about when the best time for you to travel some place is, but the easiest way to figure it out is to always ask a local. Asking, “I’m looking to go to X specifically for Y, when should I visit?” will hopefully get you an answer along with other things you can do during that season. If you are short on cash but long on destinations on your “to-go” list then try going in a time you hadn’t thought of. You may just see a side of a place you didn’t know existed.