Maybe you never got around to taking that summer vacation or simply can’t bear the crowds that swarm to popular locales during the peak season. For travel lovers, off-season vacations are a great way to save money, avoid crowds and see a different side of a city than most visitors. However, careful planning is a must to ensure that you get the most out of your time at that special destination.
Benefits to Off-Season Travel
- Money, money, money. In many places, the off-season brings dramatic slashes to prices for flights, accommodations, restaurants and attractions. For example, heading to ski destinations Aspen or Telluride in the summer months for a mountain getaway results in prices slashed by more than 50 percent. Similarly, heading to Istanbul in November or January might shave several hundred dollars off your flight cost compared to the more popular summer months.
Photo by Tax Credits via Flickr
- Enjoy major destinations, crowd-free. Flying to Rome in July will land you in the middle of St. Peter’s Square with thousands of other travelers taking advantage of the warm weather and school vacations. In the off-season, however, you’ll have the leisure to take in the Sistine Chapel without hordes of people standing shoulder-to-shoulder. This also reduces your risk of petty crime or identity theft, according to the ID theft learning center.
Photo of Rome by PhillipC via Flickr
- Greater local interaction. When the tourist crowds leave, locals have more time to chat with visitors. If your favorite part of travel is getting to meet people from new cultures, consider off-season travel for greater interactions with locals.
Photo by NH53 via Flickr
- A new glimpse at a classic destination. Amsterdam is lovely in the spring and summer months, but gliding across its canals with other ice-skating locals is an entirely different experience. Or, immerse yourself in a thermal spa in Switzerland surrounded by ice-covered mountains. Off-season travel gives you access to festivals, sporting events, concerts and other attractions that many high-season travelers miss out on.
Photo by Yorick_R via Flickr
Drawbacks to Off-Season Travel
- Weather. There’s a reason that people flock to Alaska in the summer months or enjoy Florida in the winter. Off-season travel can result in more unpredictable weather. For example, the New Orleans off-season includes June, July and September, when temperatures are sweltering and hurricanes are a potential threat. Similarly, visitors to the Peruvian Amazon in December through March may regret difficult the muddy roads, transportation delays and incessant downpours that come with the rainy season.
Photo by inekehuizing via Flickr
- Limited hours or closings on major attractions. Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of visiting in Monet’s garden and museum. To take advantage of cheap flights, you head to France in February, only to find that the site is only open from April through October. Similarly, visitors to London or Paris during August may be surprised to find many restaurants and attractions with limited hours. August is the time when many Europeans flock to the coast, leaving their home cities with limited resources for travelers.
Photo by JamesAlan1986 via Wikimedia Commons
- Shorter days. Especially if you’re traveling somewhere relatively near to the North or South Pole, you may find that off-season travel brings very short days. The Scandinavian high season runs from late June through august. If you arrive in winter, much of your day will be cloaked in darkness.
Photo by Fir0002 via Wikimedia Commons
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