Off-Season Savings

Find discounted hotel rates and less crowded beaches when you travel in the off-season.


The off-season is a great time to travel thanks to less traffic, fewer crowds, cheaper hotel rates and a better chance your flight or hotel won’t be overbooked. Of course, with the downturn in the economy, even peak times might not be too high this year, as there are indications that hotel occupancies are beginning to slow and that tourism is taking a hit. Still, traveling when everyone else is at home can snag you some good deals and buy you more relaxation time to enjoy your vacation.

Know When To Go

One destination’s off-season can be another person’s peak season. Beach resort destinations in the northeastern United States are hot spots in more ways than one during the summer months. On the other hand, winter is the most popular time of year in the Caribbean islands, thanks to balmy temperatures that lure pasty tourists to the sun-soaked beaches and hurricane season during the summer.

In Aspen, where the snow-slicked slopes are the main allure, the warm weather months are off-season periods, although they're becoming more popular with travelers looking for hiking, fishing and rafting vacations. Cities like New York and San Francisco generally don’t experience off-peak and shoulder seasons, although some times of the year are slower than others (January and February tend to be slower in New York City, for example.)

Dining and Lodging Freebies

“In places like the Caribbean, rates are about 50 percent less in the off-season,” says Deborah Shannon-Orgel with Altour, Coronado Travel Services, “and you will also find specials like free nights and resort food and beverage credits to attract people to visit during that time.” But, says Shannon-Orgel, keep in mind “not everyone wants to run the risk of traveling off-season to the Caribbean since you may have to deal with Mother Nature and a hurricane.” There’s a compromise to everything.

Shoulder Season Surprises

Off-season isn’t the only attractive time of year to travel. Sometimes shoulder season—which is less expensive than high season but not as low as off-season—is the way to go because the weather will still be good. For example, Europe’s low season is December though March but there are still good deals during the shoulder season, which is October through November and April through May.

No-Fuss Europe

Maria Lisella, editor of Jax Fax Travel Marketing Magazine, is a fan of off-season travel to Europe. Lisella just returned from an October spa holiday in Tuscany where she said she didn’t have to deal with any waits for spa treatments and was able “to spin around a fabulous museum with a fabulous docent” with no crowds. “If you are really intent on seeing a place and experiencing it,” says Lisella, “you do it when the locals are unhurried and not pressured. Everyone is much nicer to each other in the off-season and you really feel like you have been somewhere,” she says.

“Of course, traveling off-season will help you avoid crowds,” says Shannon-Orgel, “but be aware some places you would want to visit, like true seasonal beach destinations, may be closed during low season or have shorter opening hours.”

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