Traveling in the Off-Season: Sometimes Hit, Sometimes Miss!

I often travel in the off-season and enjoy the benefits: lower prices, fewer crowds, and the ability to meet locals in a more authentic atmosphere.

But, sometimes traveling in the off season presents its own challenges: the weather may be miserable, attractions are closed, or place that is lively during in-season may be a ghost town in the off-season.

Off-season travel can be rewarding – but not always.

So I decided to evaluate some destinations I’ve traveled in the off-season and tell you whether or not it’s worth it.

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January in England: Hiking at Leckhampton Hill

England, Anytime: Absolutely Worth It

Lots of visitors to England save their trip for summer, but with a mild climate year round – including in winter, any season makes for a great visit.  Spring has beautiful sunny days and blooming flowers, and autumn is the perfect time for a drive through the countryside to admire the foliage. Outside of summer, you’ll also find shorter lines and less crowds for many tourist attractions and destinations.

Here are a few experiences I’ve had year-round in England:

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St. Lucia, the Caribbean

The Caribbean, Anytime: Absolutely Worth It

A vacation to the Caribbean in winter is an escapists dream (especially if you hate snow like I do!), but the Caribbean has also proved to be an excellent destination year round. Having traveled to various Caribbean islands in both spring and summer, I’ve found that the islands are still lively enough to be enjoyed and are cheaper to travel to.

The only seasonal event to consider when planning a trip to the Caribbean is hurricane season. Hurricane season officially runs from June to November, but the busiest months are August and September. A trip to the Caribbean can still be planned for this time, but extra precautions on cancellation policies should be taken.

Here are my April experiences in the Caribbean:

 

Iceland in January:  A Mixed Bag

The case for traveling to Iceland in winter is easy to understand – it’s is one of the few places in the world where you can see the Northern Lights. I’ll never forget my experience (freezing!) and gazing up at the lights at Þingvellir National Park. There’s also is a striking beauty of the icy, white landscape of Iceland in the winter.

The downside is that despite careful packing and wearing the warmest clothes I owned in Iceland in January, I struggled with feeling bitterly cold anytime we went outside. Surprisingly though, Iceland draws a fairly decent size tourist crowds in seasons year-round, even winter!

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Spring at Pod 51 Hotel in New York City

New York City in Winter: Not Worth It

Having been to New York City in almost every month of the year – winter is the time I find most miserable. I’ve shivered my way through watching the Thanksgiving Day parade, and while the city is beautifully decorated around Christmas, it isn’t ideal sightseeing weather when every few minutes you have to duck inside to warm up. To add, there are still large crowds around the holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years), which can make prices just as high as other seasons if not higher.

I recommend fall or spring as the best time to visit NYC – temperatures are mild then, and you’ll be outside the height of summer and winter crowds (although New York City always has a lot of people!).

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Beaches in Ogunquit, Maine

Maine’s beach towns in April: Not Worth It

Traveling to Maine this past April, I was surprised to find Maine’s southern coast (namely the beach towns of Ogunquit, York, and Wells) to be almost deserted, with only a few restaurants and shops open. When trying to rent kayaks and book a lobster cruise, I found that both these attractions were closed in April as well. I later realized that in-season is mid-May to the end of August, so that is the ideal time to visit if you want to be able to access shops, restaurants, and activities.

Here is my April experience in Maine:

Where have you traveled in the off-season? Has it been a hit or miss?

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5 thoughts on “Traveling in the Off-Season: Sometimes Hit, Sometimes Miss!

  1. I think New York is actually more crowded in December than it ever is in the summer. I am considering a trip to England in the winter (I just read another article about visiting London during the Christmas season). Is it significantly less expensive during the winter months?

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    1. New York is definitely busy in winter! It’s always seemed crowded in summer to me as well but maybe it’s just the fact that everyone is outside in the heat! 😀

      I don’t think England will be significantly cheaper in winter, but you’ll definitely find generally reduced costs for things like accommodation, as well as shorter lines for attractions and lower demand to popular places. London is absolutely amazing in winter – so many streets have stunning Christmas lights and displays, so I think it’s worth it!

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