Off-season travel is popular with budget travelers and those who have less traditional and more flexible schedules, i.e., retirees or couples who are not tied to the traditional school year calendars and it has it’s own set of risks and benefits.
The most popular benefit is reduced prices due to reduced demand, but there are other benefits including less crowds, fewer lines, and a more relaxed local population. Of course, you may also face bad weather: unending rain during the unpopular monsoon season in Asia, ridiculous levels of snowfall and closures in Yellowstone National Park, or 120-degree days in Death Valley, for example.
Savvy travelers looking for off-season bargains can follow these steps:
Step 1: Determine the off season
Determining when an area’s off-season is involves figuring out why a place is popular and then going when the features that make it popular are not in place. For example, travel to warm desert areas like Arizona are popular in the winter when people want to escape colder climates.
A quick call to the local Visitor’s Bureau or the regional Chamber of Commerce will also help you determine if your off-season hunch is right.
Step 2: Adjust your travel expectations
Mild weather makes Europe a popular summer-time destination, but that also means lots of crowds and long lines. If you can adapt to a colder climate by packing the right clothes, and adjust your expectations to include more indoor activities, you can avoid the hassle and expense and enjoy a less frazzled local population.
Review the websites of landmarks, museums, and the like to determine whether their hours change for the off-season. Nothing’s worse than adjusting your expectations and then finding out the museum you counted on is closed for a month of renovations.
Step 3: Be Prepared
Travel to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Hawaii is popular in the early Fall for off-season travelers, but that’s also hurricane season. To prepare for that risk, consider travel insurance with trip cancellation and interruption coverage for hurricanes and at least you’ll get your pre-paid expenses back if the trip doesn’t work out.
If you’re likely to be traveling by car during the off-season, the roads and remote villages will be less populated with tourists, so consider having car rental coverage with roadside assistance services just in case.
Either way, think about the risks unique to your off-season travel pick and be sure you are prepared with travel insurance coverage.