Traveling off-season can save you money and improve your experience abroad. Also known as low-season or off-peak travel, this is when there are the least tourists, relative to other times of year.
Benefits include reduced demand. You’ll see the price of everything from flights to hotels typically goes down. But this isn’t the only reason to travel off-season. You’ll also enjoy more authenticity, increased flexibility, shorter lines, and sustainable travel.
Below, learn more about how low-season travel could improve your trip.
1) Everything is cheaper (so you can do more)
Flight prices skyrocket during peak seasons, such as Christmas or summer breaks. Shifting your schedule just a couple of weeks either way could provide massive discounts.
If you travel during the ‘shoulder season’ (those dates on either side of the high season), you’ll see an average flight price reduction of 23%.
Mid-January flights can be as much as 50% cheaper compared to traveling at Christmas!
Even during peak seasons, flying on Wednesdays and Thursdays is much cheaper than flying on the weekend.
But it’s not just flights that are cheaper. You might even find lower-cost hotels, tours, and entry fees. Once you add this up, avoiding weekends and school vacations could save you a small fortune.
If you’re someone who wants to cram as much in as possible, then low-season travel is for you. By embracing cheaper travel, you’ll be able to do much more than you’d manage during the peak season.
2) You’ll enjoy an authentic experience
Tourist destinations go the extra mile during the high season. While this offers a worthwhile experience, it’s not always a true reflection of the place. You could end up spending your entire vacation only meeting other travelers and tour guides.
When you travel off-season, though, you’ll interact with more local people. From the coffee shops to the grocery stores, you’ll find more people speaking the local language. This offers an authentic insight into the communities you visit.
Some places, like the Galapagos, have had to restrict access due to over-tourism. Luckily, Projects Abroad has unique access to the Galapagos National Park! Travel there off-season for an authentic insight into this unique ecosystem.
If you’re seeking cultural immersion, then traveling off-peak can help you find this. Just remember to check opening dates - not everything will be open during the off-season.
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3) You can be flexible with your plans
Transport, tours, and attractions tend to be fully booked during the high season. This means you’ll likely need to book well in advance and can’t easily change your plans.
By traveling during the off-season, though, you can enjoy more flexibility. Since there are always spaces left on that train ride or walking tour, you don’t need to pre-book anything.
You can decide everything last minute depending on what you feel like doing.
4) Fewer crowds, fewer lines
There’s nothing like the feeling of arriving at a major tourist attraction to find it mostly empty. Whether you’re trying to glimpse the Mona Lisa or find a quiet beach spot, it’s always easier with fewer people.
Everything becomes quicker, from restaurant service to attraction lines. Cutting out the bustle of the crowds saves time and energy, meaning you can get more done.
5) Traveling off-season is more sustainable
Sustainability in travel has never been more important. 90% of travelers say they look for sustainable options when booking trips.
One way to reduce the impact of your vacation is to simply travel off-season. When it’s busier, there’s more strain on resources. But fewer people means less waste and lower levels of air pollution. This all adds up to a more pleasant experience for both humans and wildlife.
Tourism-dependent economies benefit from off-season travelers too. You will provide income during the slower season. By visiting off-peak, you’re supporting the community to prosper all year round, making the travel trade more financially sustainable for local people too.
When is off-peak travel?
So you’ve decided you want to travel off-peak, but when exactly is this? There’s no single answer. It depends on where you’re traveling to as well as where tourists come from.
As a general rule, avoid traveling during school breaks and on weekends.
In Asia, though, the off-season is roughly June to October. This is the rainy season, but it’s still a great time to visit.
In Latin America, the best time to travel off-season is spring and fall. This avoids the rush of tourists during the northern hemisphere’s summer months.
In East or West Africa, the low season is between October and March.
When is the cheapest month to fly?
Your flight is a big opportunity to save money. It’s also a good indicator of the best time to travel off-season. If flights are cheap, it’s probably the off-season.
January or February are usually the cheapest months to fly internationally.
What are the best low-season destinations?
Wherever you travel, doing so off-season will have its advantages. But if you’re looking for inspiration, here are some of our favorite cheap places to travel during the low season.
Off-season travel to Ghana
Located in West Africa, Ghana is one of the Continent’s most popular destinations. Made up of rich red dirt and lush green forests, this beautiful country attracts nearly a million visitors each year.
Ghanaians are known to value peace and hospitality. It’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in West African culture.
However, if you travel during the off-season of February and March, you’ll enjoy not just fewer crowds, but milder temperatures and flourishing greenery.
Off-season travel to Peru
With snow-capped mountains, desolate deserts, dense rainforests, and idyllic beaches, Peru is one of the world’s most diverse landscapes.
Peru’s most famous attractions include the Amazon Rainforest and Machu Picchu. Together, they help attract more than five million tourists each year to the country.
To avoid the crowds, you should visit during the rainy season between January and April. This is still a great time to visit, just remember your raincoat! Bear in mind that the Inca Trail is often shut at this time due to rain. Check this beforehand if you’re planning to complete this epic hike.
Off-season travel to Nepal
From the staggering beauty of the Himalayas to the enduring mystery of Chitwan’s rainforests, Nepal is a staple of any bucket list.
It’s a deeply spiritual country where visitors come to connect to a unique culture. However, in tourist hotspots like Kathmandu, it can become overcrowded. Even Everest has line to get to the top!
June to August is peak tourist season, but it’s also monsoon season, so many avoid these months. Therefore, the best time to travel off-season is whenever you can find a cheap flight outside of vacation time.
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