The Best Reasons to Travel Off-Season!

One of the things I was most looking forward to when I graduated college was being able to travel off-season. I have always enjoyed traveling but felt restricted by my school schedule. Over a decade later, and many trips since, I have not gone back to traveling during peak season. So why am I so happy traveling when most people are not?

Price is Right

Why pay more when you can get a good deal? With flights and hotels discounted, the savings quickly add up. There tends to also be less demand, allowing for the possibility of an empty seat next to you on a long flight, and a hotel room on a higher floor, luxuries that usually come with a price tag.

The number of flights may decrease during off-season but you will be able to get a seat at a much better rate and many times at no additional cost if you use your miles. Hotels and home sharing websites have off-peak deals letting you stay longer or closer to where you want to be. I usually try to stay away for the major tourist hotspots but close to major transportation (metro, train, bus) to save even more. More savings means more vacationing, and who doesn’t want that???

In my most recent trip to Paris, my husband and I stayed in the Saint Germain neighborhood. A lively area in a quaint hotel just minutes away from the Metro station and half a block from Le Bon Marche, a high-end department store and food emporium. By traveling off-season and not staying near the usual tourist hotspots we were able to save money, enjoy a more local experience, get a daily complimentary breakfast, and pick up snacks and sandwiches when we wanted a light meal. All-in-all a local feel, a great deal, and a relaxing enjoyable experience.

Inside Le Bon Marche in Paris France
Inside the beautiful Le Bon Marche in Paris, France
Sip Cafe in the Saint Germain Neighborhood of Paris France
An evening at a cafe in the Saint Germain neighborhood of Paris, France

Three’s a Crowd

Standing in line is the biggest waste of time, especially when you could be sitting at a cafe doing nothing! High season travel usually means lots of lines, large crowds and tour groups, not to mention sold out events and attractions. When traveling off-season, you are able to enjoy most attractions without the masses. Staying away from the masses allows you to take in the sites at a more leisurely pace, especially when it comes to well -known attractions.

It’s important to note that there are some cities that are busy year-round, so don’t expect to show up at the Louvre and get a private viewing of the Mona Lisa; Unless you’re Beyoncé, it’s not gonna happen! Be prepared before you go. Make sure to make any reservations or purchase any tickets before you go; just because it’s off-season doesn’t mean there’s no season.

On my trip to Granada in September, I had the luxury of strolling through the Alhambra without having to push past large groups and umbrella waving microphoned tour guides. I was able to take all the pictures I wanted, without tons of random strangers in my photos.

The Alhambra Palace in Spain
The beautiful palace of Alhambra in Spain
Water Fountain in the Alhambra in Spain
A beautiful water fountain at the Alhambra in Spain

Do What?

The cherry on top of it all is unique experiences that are inherent to being an off-season tourist. Locals tend to outnumber the tourists giving you the chance to get the insider’s scoop on the best local spots to visit, get insights on the culture, and possibly make a new local friend. In addition to the must-see sights, you may also be able to witness festivals, concerts, and parades that are not as well-known but are well loved by the locals. One thing to remember when traveling during low season is that it’s off for a reason. Many times, the weather is more extreme, so do your research and pack accordingly. Other times, some attractions may be closed, so make sure you know what will and will not be open to viewing.

In January of 2016 some friends and I traveled to Iceland. When most people think of an island vacation they don’t think of Iceland in the middle of winter, but hey we did, and had an amazing time! Being there at that time meant that we had to pack warm layers and snow gear. The snowy cloudy weather also meant that we were not able to see the Northern Lights, one of the main attractions of Iceland. We did however get to swim in the Blue Lagoon while it snowed (amazing!!!) and got to go Lava Tubing. What is Lava Tubing you ask? Let me tell you – It was one of the most unexpected and incredible experiences of my travel life. A Lava Tube is basically a tunnel of various heights and widths created by dried lava flow that has collapsed. My friends and I walked, crawled, and at times slid through this icicle filled cave of beauty. We were awed by the ability to be underground, in pitch darkness, seeing what it’s like to basically be inside a lava flow!

The Blue Lagoon in Winter in Iceland
Relaxing in the warm waters of the Blue Lagoon in Winter in Iceland
Entering a Lava Tube in Iceland
Entering a lava tube in Iceland
Inside a Lave Tube in Iceland
Inside a lava tube in Iceland

No matter where your next adventure takes you, consider traveling a little off-season, staying a little ways off the beaten path, and trying something unexpected. Bon Voyage!