4 off-peak travel tips
If you’re like me, then you dream of traveling the world to see small and remote places, as well as large and well-known destinations. And if you are also like me, then the price tag on some of these spots can be quite prohibitive to fulfilling those dreams; unless you are flexible about when you go. Traveling in the off season can be quite beneficial. First, there is the cost savings; from flights to hotels, car rentals and attractions — everything costs less when the peak season ends. The second reason is that the crowds are a lot smaller, too. Imagine waiting with your children hour after hour, shoulder to shoulder with other exhausted families, for the chance to enter a museum or grab a bite to eat.
With that being said, there are a few things you should take into consideration when planning an off-season vacation. Having traveled to Greece in summer with my kids, I expected to have a very similar, if not less chaotic, experience a few months later with the entire family. And while, I thoroughly recommend non-peak travel to Greece, or most any other warm destination, a few things are worth noting.
Don’t take anything for granted. Just because the hotel advertises a pool online dies not mean it will be available for your enjoyment. Non-peak months are the perfect time for renovation and routine maintenance.
If you can put up with the street construction, lack of hotel amenities, lobby remodel or an obstructed view to the beach, ask for a reduced rate or even a complimentary upgrade. While 73° Fahrenheit is warm in Germany this time of year, I knew the water would not be warm enough to swim, so I booked a hotel with an indoor pool, Jacuzzi and sauna. Unfortunately, I didn’t call in advance to find out the pool, and all the aforementioned amenities, would not be in service when we arrived. With a lack of public indoor pools, my kids were sad to hear they wouldn’t be swimming on this trip. The result: a drastic reduction in my own reading time and the added stress of finding a replacement activity.
Don’t assume all travel excursions will be available. Take a moment to peruse the internet or call the hotel. Most large attractions have websites with seasonal hours of operation. Follow up on information gathered from the internet with a travel professional or the hotel staff.
When I traveled to Greece in summer, we took an excursion to Turkey. It was one of the highlights of that trip. For our late fall trip, I thought I had done due diligence by visiting the website prior to the trip and knew exactly when I wanted to travel. We strolled into the travel agency near the harbor and asked for tickets to Turkey only to be informed that during the off season, trips to Turkey are overnight, requiring additional hotel accommodations and an extra expense we just hadn’t planned for. Thankfully, we were able to book an alternate cruise to Rhodes, which turned out to be a lot of fun since none of us had been there before.
They can only say no, so go ahead and ask. With fewer guests, you may find the staff much more obliging. You can’t take that bottle of olive oil or dish detergent with you on the plane, so ask if you can borrow.
For longer stays, renting an apartment can be cost-effective, but during the off season, great deals are easy to find. We rented a hotel suite with water views, free Wi-Fi and beverage service. After stocking up on a few staples and feeling pretty satisfied with myself, I sat down to eat our first meal and realized we were missing a few things. I took the elevator down to the restaurant and ended up borrowing a bottle opener, wine glasses, condiments and much, much more.
Other things to keep in mind are:
• Off-peak season is usually defined by the weather, so be cautious when planning a vacation to areas subject to extreme weather.
• Most attractions are closed on Monday, or close early during off-peak seasons, so plan accordingly.
• Weather can change dramatically, so come prepared with enough layers to put on or take off, like a sweater or light jacket.
While low-season travel has its risks, you might find the benefits heavily outweigh them. You have an opportunity to delve deeper into the local color and enjoy an exceptionally unique travel experience. In the end, a pool would have been nice, but the kids didn’t seem to miss it.