Many holiday destinations revolve around ‘seasons’ – periods in which travel is most popular. Travelling out of season can seem risky, but is it necessarily worse? Here are the pros and cons of travelling out of season:
Hotels will bump up the prices during high season. This is because they know that’s when people will be willing to pay more money to go on holiday.
In order to fill the rooms during the rest of the year, prices will usually drop considerably out of season. Likewise, activities abroad may also be cheaper when there are fewer people about.
You can get great deals on flights when you travel in less popular months. It’s worth booking far in advance and being flexible with your dates if you can. Also keep an eye out for sales on the budget airlines such as Ryanair and EasyJet.
There are fewer people
If you want to avoid the crowds of people lying on the beach and filling up the streets, then out of season is the best time to go on holiday.
Not only does this mean you can find that spot to put your towel down, but queues will be shorter, excursion schedules are less likely to be booked, and you won’t have to worry about not getting a table at the best restaurants.
If you’re using your holiday as a way to relax, then fewer people being around can definitely be a plus.
You contribute to sustainable tourism
It’s understandable that there are times of the year when holiday destinations are particularly busy, but this can have a strain on the local community. Towns are overrun with tourists during some months, and are left empty with virtually no income from the tourist industry during the remaining portion of the year.
Travelling out of season not only benefits you, but can also benefit the destination that you visit.
Weather may be variable
There’s a reason everyone packs up their bags to go to the beach in June, July and August. It’s worth doing your research on what the weather will be like before you go. Depending on where you go, this might not be a problem.
But be prepared to be flexible: you might have to reorganise your itinerary at the last-minute if there is an unexpected thunderstorm.
Things might be shut
From a business perspective, it’s not worth keeping things open for tourists when there aren’t any tourists about.
While there will always be enough to keep you occupied during city breaks, smaller communities that make most of their money from summer tourism (particularly beach towns or islands) may completely close during the winter.
Availability of excursions
Be prepared to have less organised activities available. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it gives you the freedom to explore by yourself.
However, be prepared that any trips and excursions you do book on may be cancelled. Excursions have to meet an occupancy and since there are fewer people out of season, your trip might get cancelled last-minute if not enough people have booked on.
When should you go?
This really depends where you want to go.
School holidays are good to avoid for obvious reasons, particularly in the Summer. However, if you do need to stick to the academic calendar, then the Easter holidays and autumn/winter half terms will be cheaper than later on in the year.
City breaks in winter can be incredibly picturesque, but it’s worth considering daylight hours and how much of what you want to do outside.
For most beach breaks in Europe, ‘the season’ usually starts in May and lasts until October, so going just before or just after these dates will give you the best chances of sunshine.
So is it worth it?
Going on holiday out of high season will be a different experience, but it won’t necessarily be worse. Saving money on flights and hotels might actually mean that you have a lot more money to spend when you’re there, allowing you to enjoy the experience fully.
It depends on what you want to do. If you enjoy a tranquil break from reality, love wandering through streets and experiencing a different culture, then in many ways a holiday out of season may be better than in the peak of summer. If you’re going away for something more specific (like a party holiday, skiing, or learning to surf) then it’s more important to stick to the seasons in order to not have your experience limited.
It also depends on luck. A break to Ibiza in April or Greece in November can be incredible if the sun is out – but you do also run the risk of overcast skies, strong winds and miserable rain.
But there will always be things to do anywhere, no matter what the season, no matter what the weather. If you’re flexible with time, money-poor and eager to see more of the world, then travelling out of high season will open up a lot of doors.
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