Want to know what makes off season travel a great idea?
There are a lot of ways to make travel cheaper. We have written a whole slew of budget travel articles to help you get the most bang out of your travel budget buck, but one of the absolute best ways to save money while traveling is to travel during off season.
However, money is not the only reason to consider visiting your next travel destination in an off-peak month.
Off season is the time of year that the least amount of tourist activity takes place in a destination, usually due to weather conditions. Summer is almost always high season, while winter is almost always low season. Of course, there are always exceptions and things to consider, like what hemisphere the destination is in or what kind of activities you want to partake in. Winter in the Austrian Alps, for example, is considered high season due to the enormous influx of skiers and snowboarders.
Oftentimes low season can start as early as October, and end as late as April for many European destinations. In Southeast Asia, off season runs from March to October, and in Mexico low-season is from May/June to mid-December.
Since the tourist seasons vary depending on a number of factors, we highly suggest you do some research before you travel to any particular destination.
Reasons to Travel in the Off Season
Flights can add up to be the most expensive part of a short-term trip or vacation. Finding a great ticket price can save a nice chunk of you budget. During off season flights to certain destinations are considerably less expensive than they normally would be, saving you a fair bit of money.
For airlines, what qualifies as low season depends not only on weather, but also on holidays and school schedules. So, before you commit to visiting a destination do a little online research regarding flight costs. You can usually find some great deals for flights to the location you want to visit during off season.
Also to save a few more dollars on your travels check out our article on how to save money at the airport.
Let’s take Dubrovnik as an example. Croatia’s most popular tourist spot is RIDICULOUSLY expensive between June and late September, with prices for accommodations hitting $60 a night for a single hostel BED. Yup. Crazy.
However if you visit Dubrovnik in February you will find that hotels are practically begging tourists to rent a room. Airbnb apartments will likewise be empty, and prices will be extremely competitive.
You can save up to 70% on accommodation fees in Dubrovnik by visiting in the off season, and this awesome and historic city is just one of many such examples.
So if you fancy big savings on your penthouse suite think about traveling in off season.
Yes, traveling in the off season can even mean cheaper dining. Restaurants located in busy tourist areas oftentimes increase their prices in peak visiting months.
While some restaurants do close during off season, the ones that remain open tend to cater to locals, which means you won’t be paying inflated prices for a meal. It also means you’ll probably be eating better food than you might find during the highest tourism months.
One of the greatest benefits of off season travel, aside from saving so much money, is not having to deal with swarms of tourists at major attractions.
This summer, for example, we traveled extensively around Croatia and one of the most crowded destinations we have ever experienced was Dubrovnik. Hordes of tourists flock to the city center during summer, which means that we were never alone to explore this beautiful town.
Every single inch of the old town center was seemingly occupied by throngs of tourists. We are not saying that our time in Dubrovnik was ruined, but we both look forward to visiting in the off season.
Fewer crowds means a far more intimate exploration of the city await. Who doesn’t want that?
A high density of tourists in a small space usually equals long lines. There have been a few times when we flat out skipped a major tourist attraction, like museums, temples, and monuments, because the lines were unbearably long.
The last thing you want to do when visiting a new place for a short amount of time is to spend some of that precious time doing absolutely nothing while waiting in line. Visiting a destination in the off season means you’ll spend less time in line and more time enjoying the sites you came to see.
I think you’re starting to see where we’re going with this, right?
Traveling during peak season usually means you have to plan ahead because buses, trains, tours, and even popular restaurants can be fully booked. Additionally, tickets to popular sites like museums, temples, cathedrals, and tours can be fully booked.
When you travel in off season you have the freedom to change your schedule on a whim and not suffer the consequence of paying more for a bus ticket or having to take a 2:00 am train because of lack of availability.
Visiting destinations outside of high season means you’re more likely to see a side of that location that many travelers don’t ever get to see. Whether it’s experiencing a tropical storm in Costa Rica in July, or a foggy winter morning in Yellowstone National Park, you are bound to see something most tourists never will.
That’s pretty cool, if you ask us.
Take our first visit to the fairy tale town of Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic. We arrived in late October, which is right at the start of low season for the Czech Republic. While we didn’t get to experience popular activities like kayaking and rafting, we did get to see the city cloaked in the gloriously vibrant colors of autumn in Cesky Krumlov. Standing under the trees of the Castle Gardens as yellow, red, and orange leaves snowed down upon us is a moment we will never forget.
Sure it rained a bunch, and we had to drink some hot wine to fight off the chill in the air (poor poor us), but the experience was in no way diminished. Totally worth it, and we saved a nice amount of money as well.
Have a More “Authentic” Experience
During the peak tourism months in any popular destination the sheer amount of visitors seem to outweigh the local population. Walk down 5th Avenue in New York City on a July day, for example. You’ll likely pass 70% more tourists than locals on the congested humid streets of the Big Apple. Come back in November or March and you’ll see a noticeable difference.
In off season, when the amount of tourists is greatly reduced, the local population stands out in a more prominent fashion. You’re more likely to have meaningful interactions with locals, make friends, and be clued in to the endemic scene, culture, and traditions than you are during high season. Things that were lost in the shuffle suddenly reveal themselves, and the true essence of the place you are exploring is often easier to grasp.
So, Yeah, Think About Traveling in Off Season
If you want to save some money, get a better feel for the place you are visiting, and you aren’t relying on weather conditions to be ideal you should seriously consider visiting in off peak months. If you have any stories about awesome off season adventures you have had, please feel free to share in the comments below.
As always, safe travels, and we hope to see you on the road!
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