You’ve shown up at the destination you’ve been dreaming about for years… are feel let down. It’s too expensive. It’s too crowded. You can’t get a beach chair. You can’t even see over everyone to get a photo of the famous sunset.
The worst time I felt this was in Koh Phi Phi, which I left feeling pretty underwhelmed. It seemed like every Brit was on holiday from University and having a massive spring break party on the littered beach. There is a way to avoid these problems.
How to Save Money on Travel Expenses.
I’ve saved hundreds of dollars traveling off-season.
Travel to your favorite locations when no one else wants to; when the weather isn’t ideal. You might just find it’s even better during those times. Maybe you won’t get as dark of a tan, but you’ll save money and see a completely different side to the towns you visit.
I do this often in India, a place where you have to be very careful when you plan to visit- as it’s very seasonal. It’s the same in Europe and even America. It just takes a little research online. Simply ask google when peak season is to the place you want to go- and go right after that peak. This will work for anywhere that isn’t perfect year round.
The Perks of Traveling Off-Season
1. Flights are cheaper domestically, and sometimes internationally during off season. In India during peak season a flight from Delhi to Goa can easily cost 20,000 rupees. During season time it might be only 4,000. Ben and I flew to Bombay a couple times during monsoon last year from Goa for only 1,000 rupees each, round-trip. That’s about 20 bucks. They have to fill those seats up somehow during off-season, as the number of flights in India won’t change- so they drop the price lower.
2. Take advantage of “combination deals”. This is about the only time I use combo deals. In India, I use Make My Trip, but in the U.S. I’ve done this with a Groupon to Florida. During low season the combination deal might be unbeatable. We flew from Goa to Bombay round-trip and stay at the Taj Presidente for 12,000 for two nights. At peak season, it is 12,000 just for the room. Killer deal!
The Leela in Kovalam
3. That brings me to my next point. Choose your off-season trip as your time to bliss out in hotels. 5 star resorts are less than 50% of the going rate during peak season. Not just resorts, but hotels and guesthouses drop their rates. In Asia you’ll see on most websites a chart with rates that show on season, off-season, and peak season. Usually the rate for off-season is negotiable because they want to fill up. Most beach huts will just shut down during monsoon, but the big hotel chains are open… and empty. Since the weather won’t be perfect, at least your hotel will be.
Amarya Shamiyana before season kicked off
4. Traveling off-season means you’re going to have everything to yourself. The hotels are only packed when a wedding or festival occurs. The beaches will be empty. It might rain- but the trees will be greener than usual, blowing in the heavy winds. The fauna will be at it’s best’ lush and vibrant. I personally love the monsoon and think it’s an amazing idea to travel into the storm and have an amazing vacation at less than half the price.
From the Goa Fort in monsoon, 2013
5. In general everything from taxis to adventure sports will be cheaper for you. The shops will be less expensive because they have less people coming by- meaning they really need to make a sale. At peak season, if you don’t pay the asking rate they may tell you to kindly fuck off and wait for the next tourist to walk past. Since you may be the only tourist that day… or week… you’ll get great deals.
before season started, the market was empty and prices were low. We could even take Huck with us!
6. You’ll have different options in off-season. During hot months the water dries up and you can’t white-water raft in many places, but during the rains you can. During season time you can trek in Manali, but in the coldest of winter you can learn to ice-climb!
7. Availability is no issue for you. You’ll get the nicest room, probably with a free upgrade, and the best table at dinner. All the top-ranked hotels will have room for you, and you won’t have to spend time waiting in long lines anywhere.
8. Get to know the locals better. In Manali, Sarahan, and McLeod Ganj I got to talk to many more locals than usual. It was November, and no one really goes that far north on a backpacking trip in the winter. People were much more interested in approaching my friends and I, maybe because they thought we were crazy- or maybe they were bored from having no visitors the last month.
I love a beach storm
9. If you’re coming to learn you’ll get loads of one-on-one time. Whether it be yoga, meditation, art, or massage, your teacher will have less students leaving more time to make you better at your chosen craft!
10. Because everything is cheaper, you’ll get to take more excursions to surrounding towns. Car and bike rental will be at least half the price and hiring a driver will be much lower than normal. With a group, it can actually be more cost effective to hire a driver for a few days than to take the tourist buses.
11. Free stuff! Believe it or not, hotels will give you free nights if you book for a longer time. If you stay 3 days, maybe the fourth will be free. These are things you can negotiate. You can ask for free meals including with the rate, or at least breakfast. If they usually charge for pool access, you can ask for free access. The salons and spas will surely have special offers so you can get a luxurious massage for the same price as a beach one.
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