The Pros and Cons of Travelling in the Off Season

When deciding where to travel, the seasons can play a huge role in choosing our next destinations. The warmer seasons are always the busiest months for travellers, after all, who wants to visit the Greek Islands in the middle of Winter?

Sure, there are numerous places you won’t want to visit in the off season, but the vast majority of destinations can be amazing even when the temperatures are plummeting. Not only that, but off season travel boasts a tonne of advantages which you may not have considered.

Pro: It’s Cheaper

I absolutely, without a doubt, cannot stress this enough. Prices drop drastically during off season! Hostels get cheaper, restaurants do better priced lunch menus, local market goods cost way less, even bars will have better happy hour deals. Because there are less people around, businesses that rely on tourism will drop their prices just to get bums on seats or people through the door.

I have seen hostels go from $50 per night in high season to $12 in the off season. We are not talking small savings here, you can travel with significantly less money.

There are, of course, a few exceptions to this. If you are headed to super off the beaten path destinations where tourism is never really a big thing, the seasons will likely have little effect on price.

Con: Quieter Hostels

This can be considered a pro if you are anything like me and love a bit of extra peace and quiet, but sometimes it can be a bad thing too. I stayed at a hostel in Mossel Bay, South Africa where for a couple of days I was literally the only guest! I got on well with the hostel staff and still enjoyed my stay there, but I definitely could have used a couple of dorm-mates to chat with on the rainy days!

Pro: Shorter Lines and Less People

If you are travelling to smaller cities with less tourism, this won’t be quite such a big deal. But if you are travelling to extremely popular and busy tourist destinations like Paris, Rome or London – long lines and epic wait times are a part of life. Travelling in the off season doesn’t make waiting and queuing disappear completely in the most popular cities, but it does reduce them quite significantly.

I remember seeing an acquaintance post a picture of Notre Dame in the height of summer on social media and being blown away by the sheer number of people surrounding it. There was literally thousands of people crammed together in front of this famous church – even just seeing it in a photograph made me feel suffocated.

I had visited Notre Dame in the previous year but had done so in the middle of winter on a rainy day, and my experience was an entirely different one. The only people there were myself and a small Chinese family. Five people in the winter or thousands in the summer – I know which one I prefer!

Notre Dame, Paris

Con: Closed Attractions

So while lines for attractions will be significantly shorter in the off season, some attractions become so sparsely visited that they close off completely. In major cities this will be less of an issue, but for remote destinations or anything that is weather dependent, this could be significant.

For example – my home base is in Darwin, and in this small Top End city, we have two distinct weather cycles each year – the dry (high season) and the wet (low season) seasons. In the dry season you can swim in a lot of different waterways and waterholes quite safely, but in the wet season, swimming in many waterways has a significant chance of putting you on the menu for a big saltwater crocodile, and as a result, access to such waterways can get closed off. If you were visiting Darwin to look for some amazingly scenic swimming holes, off season travel just wouldn’t suit you.

Berry Springs Lower Pool, Darwin

Pro: Different Photographic Opportunities

If you are travelling during the off season, chances are, you will be encountering different weather patterns than your high season travellers and thus, can expect to see places looking entirely different than many other travellers. This means that photographically, you can expect to capture some wonderfully different perspectives and shots.

Maldivian Monsoon, Baa Atoll

Con: All The Rain

While I will shout my love of off season travel from any rooftop available – I will be the first to admit that doing so means that rain will become a part of your everyday life.

Off season is almost always the time of year where weather conditions are considered by the majority of people to be less desirable. More often than not, such times of year are times where rainfall levels skyrocket.

Whether you be inter-railing through Europe in the winter or budget backpacking through SE Asia in the wet season – pack a poncho, some extra socks, a waterproof phone case and be prepared for all of the rain!

Con: Delays

With less than favourable weather comes an increased likelihood of encountering delays. Planes, trains, buses and ferries are all susceptible to mother nature, and as a result, you have greater chances of your travel plans going awry.

However, I will say this. I hate delays as much as the next person, but sometimes they can result in pretty amazing experiences.

Pro: Easier To Hide Your Extra Travelling Kgs

If you are travelling in high season, chances are you will be travelling in the warmer months – which means lighter clothing and swimwear.

If you are anything like me, you’ll put on weight while travelling. I like to immerse myself in each new place I visit, and what better way to do that than by eating? However, maybe I am a little too enthusiastic about this, as my clothes always become much more snug as my trips go on. Luckily, in the off season, temperatures drop and you have an excuse to rug up and hide the result of all that extra ice cream.

Lake Kawaguchiko, Japan
Lake Kawaguchiko, Japan

Off season travel: put it on your radar.

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30-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

46 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of Travelling in the Off Season

  1. Hi! I love your blog and it always makes me jealous as I would like to travel too but I started a PhD and I still have few years to go… so it means not much time to travel. But I completely agree with you here, travelling off season is sometimes a very good option! I always wonder how it is possible to travel a lot and get enough money to do it, if you can’t work in the mean time. For now I can only save some money and dream of planning a big trip at the end of my PhD. Thank you for the advice you can give us!

    1. Compare to a ‘normal’ job, to earn money while travelling takes a long time. According to an article I read (written by an established travel blogger who I cannot remember as it was 3-4 years ago), it takes at least 2 years before one can accumulate enough loyal followers. Even then, it takes a lot of work before one can earn a decent amount. You need to write frequently, perhaps once a week. Then you need to observe the stats and post accordingly. You need to be able to set yourself aside from others. Then affiliate yourself with Amazon and the likes. If people buy from Amazon through your links, you’d get an advertising fees. Then you might have to set up other social accounts such as Youtube/Instagram/Twitter/Facebook for the blog so that you can get new followers/viewers.

      It’s tough, but certainly doable.

    2. You can still travel while doing your PhD! I still managed to head abroad while at university full time. Take your laptop with you and I bet you can manage both!

  2. I was browsing for plane tickets to go to Europe and since I found one which is cheap enough (RM 1,690 / USD 378.72), I booked straightaway. Then, I realized it is on next February which is still during winter.

    So, my first time travelling to Europe, my first time travelling in winter and well, my first time travelling off peak period!

  3. I love traveling in the off season! My family goes to a cold weather destination every Thanksgiving (this year we were in the Faroe Islands, last year Iceland), and there’s just an authenticity to being in a cold place during the winter months that you won’t feel in the peak season. Plus, of course it’s cheaper too to travel in the off-season, and that’s always a nice perk.

      1. I would highly recommend traveling there! You will hardly see any tourists, and everything is still in a very authentic state. I’m not sure the same thing will hold true in 10 years if tourism takes off and it becomes the next Iceland.

  4. Thanks for breaking down the pros and cons on traveling in off-season! I absolutely love the photo you included in Berry Springs Lower Pool. Where’s the best destination you’ve traveled to in the off-season? I usually only ever travel in summer, but a winter destination sounds pretty fab, too!!

    1. I visited Greenland in shoulder season and absolutely fell in love with the place! I also love Scotland in the off season – the cold makes the place extra magical.

      1. Yes I plan to go to riga in march, the balkans in august and we have a family holiday coming up in July and possibly some sort of winter break at the end of year! 2017 will be a good year! How about yourself? Xx

      2. That sounds wonderful!

        I have an absolutely enormous year ahead of me! I will be travelling for most of the year and visiting every single continent!

      3. Wow that sounds amazing!! Every continent is an incredible year! I can’t wait to read all about your travels! Have an amazing 2017!!!!!

  5. Another pro is PRICE! I feel travelling in the off season to a destination can proffer a travel discount. Thanks for the pros vs cons about travelling in the off season!

  6. Nice post, I like to travel during the shoulder seasons. Less expensive most of the time. Days are still long enough and everything is mostly open with fewer crowds. Never a problem with rooms or restaurants. So travel time is between mid September and early November then mid March through early May for me. PLane flights are also pretty cheap if you plan in advance. Love these travel tips. Happy adventures.

  7. I like travelling just off the peak season. Since I usually have the dogs with me, navigating crowds is a major challenge but trying to time it just before the rains come means we can still do some wandering without my sweeties melting in the rain.

  8. I’m headed to Greece next week and absolutely agree with your “it’s cheaper in the off season” statement. Couldn’t pass it up. It’ll be a bit cold, but everything will still be beautiful. Hoping to bring back lots of pics and memories of a great experience!

  9. Very good article! We almost always spend time in destinations in the “off” season. A true benefit is meeting the locals which is difficult when a place is packed. We loved Cinque Terre in February with not another soul in site. We literally had whole train cars to ourselves. Only Dublin in November turned out to be a bit of a mistake. But even then it just meant more time in nice warm pubs!

  10. great tips. Another one is to watch out for mosquitos during the off season in tropical areas. Friends remember their vacation to Cuba as a nightmare, having to run from building to building.

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