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.
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:
- January: Hiking in the Cotswolds: Leckhampton Hill
- February: A Day in Bath, England
- March: A Storybook Day Trip in the Cotswolds, England
- October: Photo Essay of the Lake District, England
- December: Cotswolds Villages: A Picturesque Day in Bibury and Bourton-on-the-Water
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:
- How to Spend One Day in San Juan, Puerto Rico
- Under the St. Lucian Sky
- How to Spend a Day at 6 Caribbean Cruise Ports of Call
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!
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!).
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?