For years I was hesitant to travel outside of the peak summer travel season. The main reason I always cited was bad weather. I couldn’t imagine arriving at a long-awaited destination only to be forced inside all day due to rain. But over the years I’ve come to realize that I actually much prefer traveling during the shoulder season or the off season for several reasons.
You save money by traveling at off-peak times
Most tourist destinations rely heavily on tourism as their main source of income. Often the money made during the peak season is what will last the locals through the rest of the year. Because of this, prices for hotels, food, transportation, and excursions will be heavily marked up during the summer months. If you are looking to stretch your travel dollar a bit further, consider traveling during the less busy season and to less popular destinations. Not only will you save money but the locals will be thankful for the business and will often be extremely accommodating and helpful.
Your destination won’t be as crowded
Recently I heard someone say that she disliked Dubrovnik immensely. I was taken aback as I had been enthralled with how charming the city was when I was there. When I asked her why she hadn’t enjoyed it, she mentioned that it was just simply too crowded to enjoy. She surmised that a cruise ship had been in port and the small walled city had just been overrun with tourists. That was in such contrast to my early March visit two years ago. We practically had the city to ourselves. And not only did we enjoy every moment of our visit there, we had fabulous weather to boot.
You get a more authentic feel for the city
During the hot, crowded summer months, popular tourist destinations swell with tourists while many of the locals escape to the countryside for a respite from the heat and the crowds. That often leaves a city full of people, but severely lacking in locals. Which means you might not get a completely authentic feel for a city. I’ve discovered that it’s much more enjoyable to immerse yourself in the local culture, even if it means muddling your way through communication and customs, than to just be pushed along the periphery by throngs of tourists stampeding to stock up on refrigerator magnets and colorful coffee mugs. I’ve traveled both ways, and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with either, but I’ve come to see how much you gain by traveling during less busy times.
Spring and fall are beautiful
Spring and fall are my two favorite times of the year. When the flowers start to bloom and when the leaves start to change color, you can capture some great photos! Not only that, but you can also enjoy cooler weather. In most parts of the world summer months can be blisteringly hot and humid, forcing many travelers into museums and malls to cool off. Cooler weather allows you more time to explore the outdoors and enjoy all that nature has to offer. Personally I have enjoyed popular destinations such as Rome and Venice much more during the cooler autumn months than during the sweltering summer months.
Do you have a favorite month or time of year in which to travel?