Off-season travel brings many benefits that most people snuff their noses at. I think it’s a great way to see the world without competing for space with everyone else. Likewise, you can save some money. However, this is not the sole reason to consider off-season travel.
Here are fourteen plus reasons why traveling off-season is advantageous;
If you are traveling to a location during its off-season, you will always have more availability of everything, from tours, transportation, and hard-to-score reservations at the latest and greatest restaurant to the most recent musical. You will typically have more time options to choose from as well. Let’s face it; no one wants to eat their main meal at 10:00 pm. Off-season travel ensures this does not happen.
Off-season travel availability boils down to supply and demand, and the supply is always in excess during a location’s off-season.
One thing to consider: You must research the locations on or off-seasons. For example, we traveled to Australia and New Zealand in December. By design due to our time-off work. However this is not just Christmas time for Australia – it is the peak travel season and their summer.
Also, be aware that some destinations are only moderately affected by season, and off-season travel may not apply!
No one wants to stand in line, waiting for the perfect photo. No one wants to be photo-bombed. Most importantly, no one wants to share their space with a stranger. Trying to get that perfect shot in a crowd is nearly impossible.
Another supply and demand classic, the inventory of all accommodations, fluctuates with the season. For example, no one wants to be in the Maldives in June because this is the monsoon’s peak, aka wet season. Sure, you might score the overwater bungalow for $200, but if it’s raining 24/7, who cares?
Hotels also fluctuate by event and holiday. For example, while the weather in NYC is terrible in December, people are still willing to pay a premium to be there and see the festivities.
Cheap Attraction Tickets
If you are visiting attractions, there is typically an off-season travel discount available. This is done to enable locals to visit and keep a flow of traffic going. We scored four days of Disney tickets for $195 per person from Disney direct using the Florida Residents deal. Which means you have to attend off-season.
Like availability, flights are more affordable, but you have to know the seasons of the region you are traveling to. For example, we went to Norway in November, which is the off-season travel season. We then connected to Saariselkä in Lapland, Finland, where it was peak travel time. Determining the seasons is a tad like currency watching, only they don’t fluctuate as much.
Another example. America is the only country that celebrates Thanksgiving so traveling overseas during this holiday that is the peak season for Americans, is often off-season travel season elsewhere.
Every heard of or tried the early bird special? Yes, the one many roll their eyes at? Well, they are ripe during the off-season. And guess what, it’s not just the seniors that dine early bird style. We’ve scored many a fancy meal by merely avoiding rush-hour.
Create New Traditions
Thus far, we have talked about many examples of why off-season travel is advantageous. All combined, you could travel during a peak-season from your home to somewhere not in peak season. Overall, you could create significant new memories by combining all of these strategies. I bet you’ve all heard someone say they can’t afford to travel, right? Or, the other common objection – time off.
For American’s here are some classic holiday’s that are not celebrated elsewhere:
Many locations and attractions host “free” days or weeks, and it’s not just for locals. For example, the National Park Service in America offers free days and sometimes weeks! We’ve used this perk while visiting several National Parks. And, when weeks are not on offer, there are still days to be had for free. Likewise, almost all museums offer similar freebies.
Fewer people, fewer crowds
Some might say fewer tourists, but I think it’s fewer people, period. Sometimes you can have an entire place to yourself with no locals, much less the tourists. We experienced this on our first visit to Yellowstone. We all but had the place to ourselves.
A word of caution here. Some people find this one isolating and want to be within the crowds.
Maximize Your Time Off
As mentioned above, off-season in some countries is the peak season in others. For example, if you’re an American and you travel to Norway over Thanksgiving. Not only will it be inexpensive, but you will also use little of your precious time off.
Because you will have a broad array of times to choose from, fewer tourists to contend with you will save time! Saving time means you can add more to your itinerary or relax more.
The fewer people, the shorter the lines. For me, this one is even more important than saving some money. We live in Orlando, and while not theme park crazy, we won’t touch one unless it’s entirely off-season. It is especially true if it’s Disney, where average lines can be more than two hours during peak season. What’s the point in this? It’s not just theme parks. All major attractions have lines – I’ll pass, thanks!
The Local Experience
We’ve been fortunate. In Montana, while visiting off-peak, we had a plethora of snow, but the snow activities were closed because it was “off-season.” Guess what, and the locals lent us their snowmobiles to snowmobiles. Yep, you read that right. All we said is where can we rent, and they insisted we “borrow.”
The locals also called us to notify us of a moose that was paddling in a local river. I had expressed my wish list, and they went out of their way to make sure I experienced as much as possible. If it were busy, I would have been just another traveler.
In Norway, we were asked to join the locals at dinner. So random and unusual – yet rewarding. We accept the invite, and it was a fabulous experience. We learned a ton about Norway, Norwegian culture and made new friends. If Bergen were flooded with tourists, we would have been one of the thousands. Very unlikely that anyone would have asked us to join them.
The next time someone raises an eyelid when you are not traveling through the peak season. Politely smile and take great pleasure in how strategic you have been and the benefits!
Do you have any cool or creative reasons that I missed? I would love to hear your ideas!
Nikki Webster is a travel writer who covers how to travel while grinding a day job, how to travel without breaking the bank, hotels, cruising, and off-the-beaten-track experiences. She is particularly fond of Florida and writes extensively about the state. She flies around 60,000 miles per year and has visited 54 countries, 50 states, and six continents. You can read all about her travels at www.britonthemove.com.