This blog post was updated on August 11, 2021.
“Go in the off-season,” says the quintessential travel advice and wannabe travel experts everywhere. However, while it’s true that off-season travel comes with many positives — such as fewer crowds and cheaper fares — traveling when the rest of the world isn’t can also have its downsides.
That’s why, even before you book your off-season travel destination, you should try to keep in mind these handy travel tips!
Always Plan on the Weather
The reason many people travel in the high season boils down to one thing: weather. Big surprise, huh? High season getaways generally mean you won’t be battling snowstorms or torrential downpours. Off-season travel is much more of a gamble weather-wise. If you decide to travel around Eastern Europe in the dead of winter, you might find yourself spending your time buying endless layers of clothing just to survive the freezing temperatures. You should always assume that, when traveling off-season, the weather might be an issue. That way, you’ll be more prepared if you are not greeted with sunshine and open skies. So pack accordingly and be sure to check frequently the weather report leading up to your trip!
Check if The Attractions You Want To Visit Will Be Open
Another common problem you might face when traveling off-season is the unforeseen closure of that specific museum you really wanted to visit. Maybe it’s still open, but only for restricted hours. Before you book, do a bit of research first to be certain that you’ll be able to visit the things you like the most during your stay!
Fewer Crowds Can Mean Lonely Destinations
Off-season travel isn’t for the lonely. With fewer crowds, some destinations can feel downright eerie. If you are positive in taking advantage of reduced rates but don’t want to be the only one in town, consider focusing your trips around cities to avoid feeling overly isolated. Beach towns can quickly turn into ghost towns during the off-season, which usually means that very few restaurants and hotels will be opened.
Make Sure You Can Get There (and Around)
Off-season travel can also be a drag when it comes to transportation schedules. If you want to visit an island, for example, you’ll surely have to deal with limited ferries. Do your homework before booking to know firsthand if you will be able to actually get to your destination on those dates. Off-season travel can also be a good opportunity to rent a car so that you don’t have to rely on spotty bus, train, and boat schedules. There’s no other way around it: inconsistent schedules are common in the off-season!
Lean on Locals and Community Tourist Bureaus
When it comes to travel, the locals are always your best source of information. That’s why savvy travelers always try to connect with them when they arrive. Be like them. Rather than asking the hotel concierge for restaurant recommendations, try striking up a conversation with a local to get their opinion. Not only will you probably enjoy a good meal at a fair price, but also get a better idea about your destination’s culture and people. Besides, locals are more apt to talk to you if you visit off-season.
It’s also recommended to research tourist bureau websites before you book. This will give you a good idea about what to prioritize. These sites are also often the best sources of information for things to do during each specific season.
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Don’t Be Afraid to Reach Hotels for Answers
Traveling off-season gives maximum flexibility when booking hotel rooms. Because you’re not competing with hordes of other travelers, you will benefit from lower rates and discounted rates. Be sure to compare rates at different hotels and home-share programs.
Do not be shy either about asking for discounts or upgrades upon your arrival. Some hotels may be willing to upgrade your room at no charge if they are not at full capacity. This is especially true if the hotel is undergoing renovations, something common during the off-season. Even if they do not have a better room available, they may be able to offer you a discounted pass to the club lounge or other types of hotel amenities. It never hurts to ask to see what they will throw in at no cost to you!
Research Off-Season Activities
It’s easy to find an abundance of things to do at your travel destination if you arrive during peak season. This scenario completely changes, however, if you’re traveling on off-peak dates. For this reason, it’s important to do your research prior to departure so that you can plan a proper itinerary.
Choosing activities that are not as dependent on the weather will increase the chances that you’re able to enjoy them. Also, it never hurts to check discount sites for deals during your travel dates. Vendors are often looking to squeeze as much money as they can out of the tourists during slow times! Some areas will intentionally plan festivals and other special events during the off-season in an effort to attract more visitors, so it’d be wise to check out what’s going on at your destination. Being purposeful about thinking outside of the box will help you to be more creative in how you spend your time!
Look for Seasonal and Frequent Flyer Deals
If you have frequent flyer miles burning a hole in your pocket, cashing them in during the off-season will deliver the biggest savings. Many of these programs offer flights for fewer miles during not-as-popular dates. As always, flexibility here is key. You could, perhaps, be open to the possibility of leaving the destination open to get better prices.
Now more than ever, it’s important to compare before booking. If you don’t mind a bit of spontaneity in your travel schedule, you’ll likely find big travel deals waiting until the last minute.