Traveling off season can be an excellent way to save money. And if you're smart about, you won't have to compromise much either.
- So much cheaper! You can literally save thousands of dollars traveling off season. Flights are typically much less expensive (we're talking hundreds of dollars less), and hotels are cheaper too. Many restaurants offer discounts during off season to help maintain tourism, which is an added bonus if you're a foodie like me.
- No lines! Depending on where you go, you'll be able to dodge the dreaded lines. In smaller cities, you'll potential avoid lines altogether. In bigger cities, lines will be shorter. That means less time waiting and more time exploring. When we were in Europe this winter, we did not stand in a single line in Athens, Santorini, Palermo, or Amalfi. By the time we got to Barcelona, we were like "Oh yeah. Lines..." Still, they were short, and not nearly as bad as they would have been in the spring or summer.
- Along the same line (pun intended): no crowds! Cities will be less crowded, or at least less tourist-filled. In my opinion, this makes it easier to experience local culture and forgo the tourist traps.
- Not everywhere is a good off season destination.
- Bad weather is a possibility. Think northern countries in the winter- unless you're going for specific winter activities.
- Some cities shut down during the off season, which means that hotels, museums, tourist attractions, and restaurants might be closed.
- That's about it! If you pick your destination wisely, there won't be many disadvantages.
- Research your destination cities in advance! I cannot stress this enough. If there are specific things you want to see or do, they may not be open year-round. In fact, some cities practically close down for the winter. So either be ok with that, or save that city for another trip.
- Look up weather forecasts, and be ok with cooler weather. Pack accordingly. We chose to stay in southern parts of Europe that were still pretty warm, but definitely not hot. Because we were prepared for cooler weather (mentally and physically), we weren't bummed when we couldn't swim in the ocean or when we had to wear coats and scarves. See photo above :) However, it's worth noting that everywhere we traveled was at least 60 degrees or warmer, so coming from Utah and Maryland, it was still a nice reprieve from the cold.
- Use off-season traveling as a way to explore multiple cities. Because flights will be so cheap, you can easily travel between cities or countries. It's an inexpensive way to test out lots of destinations before committing to just one. And if you fall in love with a particular place (which you probably will!), you can always add it to your bucket list and plan a trip back during regular season. Jon and I traveled to Greece, Italy, and Spain, and decided that we definitely need to revisit the greek islands in the summer! We want to go back to Spain too, but would be totally ok going off season again. These are all things we wouldn't have known without experiencing the places first-hand.
The take away: Travel off season. Bundle up if you need to. Save a lot of money. Have a fabulous vacation.