Off-Season Travel: The Best Time To Beat The Crowds (And The Prices)
Traveling off-season is no longer off-putting; in fact, it’s actually seen as a welcome alternative that offers perks such as smaller crowds, shorter lines, and lower prices. According to Gabe Saglie, senior editor at the deal-finding website Travelzoo, “…places are getting creative, beefing up experiences and transportation options to attract visitors during the low season.” Here are some ideas for fall, winter, and summer trips that offer good value and great experiences.
When families settle back into the school year and ships return from Europe, cruise lines tend to lower prices and add in perks they hope will fill empty cabins. Check out cruises to:
You could take a seven-night, one-way cruise from Vancouver, Canada on Princess Cruises’ Golden Princess in early September for as little as $579 per person. In late July, a similar itinerary could cost around $879.
Head out from Valencia, Spain, on a seven-night Western Mediterranean cruise that stops in Marseille, Rome, Palermo, and other port cities, starting at $538 per person in mid-October. Sailing the same route offered by the MSC Divina in mid-July would cost more than twice as much.
Book a cabin on the Norwegian Breakaway, head out from Miami, and visit Honduras, Belize, and Mexico for just $549 per person in mid-September. Looking to jump on board in July for the same cruise? Expect to pay $849, and tack on $170 for taxes and fees.
Off-season travel during winter lulls can mean smaller groups of tourists, more elbow room when visiting attractions, better access to quality accommodations, and dining along with locals rather than visitors.
• Grand Canyon
Come winter, the views are just as spectacular and the prices, sublime. Although the North Rim starts shutting down on October 15 and doesn’t completely reopen until May 15, the South Rim invites you to enjoy plenty of sunny days with temperatures in the 50s and 60s, perfect for enjoying the outdoors. Additionally, the Grand Canyon Railway operates during the winter season and allows for taking leisurely day trips. You’ll also have a better chance of scooping up one of the limited hotel rooms within the park, even with only a few weeks’ notice.
Summer is a great time to chill out in cool locations that tend to slow down during warmer weather.
• Vail, Colorado
Snow-covered peaks might be hard to find but there’s plenty in Vail to pique your interest: slide down the tubing hill, take in the sights from a gondola, go white-water rafting on the Eagle River, zip through the forest on a raised alpine coaster, and more. You’ll also enjoy deep discounts on luxury accommodations: for example, Sonnenalp Hotel rooms start at about $350 per night for a weekend in mid-June; the same room could cost you $500 or more midweek in February.
• St. Anton am Arlberg, Austria
One of Austria’s most popular ski areas in winter, St. Anton am Arlberg quiets down in the summer months but is no less breathtaking. Traverse more than 180 miles of walking paths, take a cable car ride, experience a torchlight hike, or stop for a leisurely snack at a mountainside hut with a mesmerizing view.