While the warm summer months always inspire wanderlust in those of us aching for a beachside getaway, saving your precious vacation days for a trip in the off-season can prove rewarding for more than just your budget.
The peak season slaps the “tourist” label on almost everybody in town, making travelers and locals alike groan in exhaustion. Here are 5 hidden travel perks to inspire you to make your next trip an off-season adventure.
This one is fairly obvious to anyone familiar with the volatility of the airline travel market, but it really can be the make-or-break for an awesome trip. With fewer travelers snapping up plane tickets, you’ll have more availability to choose the flight times that work best for you — and save a load of money while doing it. Traveling to the Canary Islands in the off-season cost me only about 1/5 of the usual ticket price, leaving me with tons of extra cash to explore and indulge.
If you’re not sure where exactly you want to go, the Kayak.com explore page is the perfect way to peruse your options and find a flight plan that suits you and maybe even sends you to a destination you hadn’t thought of before.
Better Food Options
Traveling is the best way to expand your palate and try incredible food that you can’t get in your homeland. But in the peak season, with the bursting restaurant patios and throngs of hosts and hostesses trying to lure you in, it’s almost impossible to tell where will give you that culinary experience you’re looking for.
Once the crowds of tourists obscuring the view go back home, that all fades away and the local tastes are revealed. It becomes easier to tell where the best eateries are — just listen for where the patrons are speaking the native language and/or are friendly with the staff.
You may even get better prices, as some destinations will experience inflated menu costs during high tourism season.
There’s no reason not to see the attractions that have made a location famous, but there is no worse feeling for a traveler than knowing that you’ve fallen into a tourist trap and the locals despise you.
Making an effort to learn the language and cultural behaviors will certainly help ease that worry, but not being part of a crowd helps, too. With fewer tourists around you’ll get a more authentic experience of the city as well as shorter wait times and better photo opportunities at the biggest attractions.
This travel season map created by LastMinute.com shows you when the peak seasons are around the world, helping you find the best time to plan your trip. Though shoulder seasons are extending throughout many countries, this map is a great place to start finding your off-season destination.
More Local Life
The authentic experience that many travelers dream of is almost impossible to obtain in peak season, which is why traveling in the off-season is perfect for those wanting a glimpse into local life. You can see where those who live there year-round choose to spend their time — which will often lead you to the best eateries, hangouts and local landscapes.
Befriending the local residents is also an excellent way to see a new side to wherever you’re visiting. I make a habit of planning nights out with hostel staff or asking for their recommendations whenever I travel, and it always pays off — I’ve seen favorite hidden piers in Venice, been taken on a personalized pub crawl in Glasgow and even held a local’s golden eagle in Tenerife. Can’t get that experience at a resort in July.
Freedom to Explore
All of the perks for your stomach and wallet pale in comparison to the feeling of absolute freedom that comes with a destination devoid of tourists.
Sure, traveling to Mykonos in the middle of party season and living it up on a beach may be fun, but exploring in October will let you truly see the island's beauty.
Cruising deserted streets on an ATV, picking the best spot for sunbathing on an empty beach and having the locals treat you like one of their own is worth more than any all-inclusive resort. To hike up an island cliff and take in the view without another human in sight is incomparable.