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Traveling Off-Season

toAh, the off-season. Time to re-cooperate, repair and plan. Or is it? The height of tourist season has its advantages, but also its drawbacks. Big crowds, high prices, long lines. It all adds up to a trip that may leave you feeling rushed, squeezed, used and abused. The solution is off-season travel. Exploring new places when no one expects you to.

Because the number of tourists are down, costs for just about everything are cheaper. Hostels, hotels, tour services and travel costs are the most commonly discounted programs. In some cases, agencies will use special packages to lure travelers to off-season destinations. Even airfare will take a dip when most travelers are staying home.

Off-season doesn’t necessarily mean cold. Near the equator, in some of the hottest places in the world, the off-season may correlate with summer, producing temperatures that are unbearably high. Off-season may also mean rain, snow, storms, hurricanes, angry gods and volcanoes.

Sure it’s unique that you’re visiting Greece in the middle of February, but you’ll be disappointed when you find that the scooter rental shack, the scuba dive shops and the beach campground are all closed. While many businesses simply elect to lower their prices, other choose to close shop during the off-season. Find out what activities are most important to you first and then ensure that they stay open in the off-season.

For those that live in touristy areas, constant travelers often become frustrating. Clogging the best restaurants, bars, attractions and transportation options. As a result, cool locals may retreat to other venues, making it hard for you to make international friends and connections. When the tourists go home, the locals come out to play. If you travel during the off-season, you can catch them in the act.

It’s the most obvious difference between off-season and on-season travel, but it can make the most profound difference. Not just because of the associated effects like cost, connections and weather, but for the simple beauty of empty streets. For the pleasure of not fighting other people for access to the same backpacking experience. Seeing the Eiffel Tower is great, but witnessing it’s glowing light on a romantic, drizzly fall evening may change your life.

By Patrick Hutchison


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