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.
from Sarahan to Manali for 11 hours, 4,000 Rs that we divided
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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Great tips, Rachel. I’ve never thought of asking hotels for a free night when stay longer… Something to remember [wink]
GOod luck! They go for it sometimes! :)
SOOO true. I did Italy in off-season (November) and the weather was actually perfect (65-75), we were able to get some killer reservations and definitely got good deals on pricing. It still felt super busy in the touristy areas of the bigger cities (in Rome and Florence), so I can’t even imagine what it would have been like had we gone in high season! In an ideal world, I try to at the edges of high season (either right before or right after), to avoid crowds, but still get good weather and good deals :). Great post, R!
You did good bc I went in july and italy was a hot mess! lol it was so crowded. Rome and Venice were just incredibly frustrating!
Traveling off-season is a great tip. I am heading to Santorini in August (completely not off-season at all) and I wanted to capture the sunset but after seeing the super crowded photo, I think I need to find a space with little to no people.
hahah.. yeah good luck finding space! lol!
That’s a cool list to follow! I may start planning my vacations in the winter!
it’s worth it!
Great tips! We traveled to Costa Rica in the off season, and every time we went anywhere we were basically the only people there. It was fantastic. We went to Thailand during the peak season, and, well, I usually felt a lot like your pic of the sunset in Santorini – haha
Oh, and Costa Rica is expensive usually , so I bet you got some great deals!
I agree, traveling off season is the way to go, especially for long term travel! The problem is most people only have time off during the high season, but why not switch your vacations destinations? In Brazil, it’s much cheaper to travel during their winter (may-august) but most people don’t even have Brazil on their radar. Travel doesn’t have to be expensive!
Good idea! I’d love to hit up Brazil!
Great tips Rachel!! I used to do this back when I traveled (before becoming an expat). I always went somewhere hot right before Christmas – I skipped all the crowds and jacked up Christmas prices, but still got to go on a tropical holiday while it was crappy weather at home in Canada. One of the reasons I don’t travel totally off-season, which is usually summer, often is that in Canada we have to take advantage of the few months of nice weather we actually get each year :) But missing the peak times by even a few weeks can make a big difference in cost.
Ahh yeah.. you know even living in Ohio so close to Canada, I haven’t been! I really want to go though. I bet summer is so nice!
Great tips Rachel! They are definitely going to come in handy next time I’m planning a trip! I’ve only ever travelled during peak season, usually because of uni timetables and work, so I’m looking forward to travelling in the off-season now! x
yep, and it it weren’t so much many people unable to travel during off-season, then off-seaon would be just as expensive lol so thank god for that! Now you can enjoy it too :)
Awesome tips! On the topic of sites that give you great deals, such as Groupon, I also got told just yesterday about http://www.luxuryescapes.com. So that might be useful for people who are wanting a bit of luxury at a far cheaper price!
That’s interesting, I’ll have to check it out.
Great tips Rachel. Getting a fancy hotel room to bliss out in at half price would definitely make it worth it- if the weather ends up bad then you’ve got somewhere nice to wait it out!
exactly! If I ever get a nice hotel, I don’t want to leave the room anyways!
Couldn’t agree more! We travel off peak all the time and have scored some amazing deals, and we’ve got to do things and stay in places we never would be able to afford in peak season.
If you can get past the weather, it’s SO worth it!
Great tips Rachael, I’m always onto accommodation providers in the off-seasons for stuff like a free night, or free breakfast/tour. I’ve found it actually works quite well pretty much everywhere! My rule it is doesn’t hurt to ask!
You’re right, I think this monsoon in India I’m going to be sending a lot of e-mails :P
Awesome tips! Wasn’t it too humid in Goa during monsoons? I mean at that way that you can dry any clothes’ for days?
I’ve got an awesome deal and traveled off-season to Corsica, France. Got a hotel twice cheaper than in summer and a beach all to myself too enjoy :)))
It is really humid and yes it takes DAYS to dry clothes lol- you must know what it’s like! I don’t mind humidity that much and actually, I think Florida is worse than Goa in terms of humidity!
These tips are great, we often take advantage of the off-season one, especially when we want luxury hotels :)
Yep, it’s the best time to travel!
This is such a good tip Rachel! I especially like “Traveling off-season means you’re going to have everything to yourself” because it’s so true.
We went to the Baltic Sea in Poland in April ( I usually go June-August), and there was literally no one there. We were the only tourists on the beach. It was totally and utterly empty! Everything was closed but practically, everyone waved at us everyday and helped us out. At one point, we became the tourist attraction ourselves. In Poland! Oh yes, we got a complimentary dinner at the only castle in the area and someone even paid a part of our train ticket so yeah, low-season has it’s advantages.
Thanks for sharing Rachel. :) If you don’t mind, here’s the link to that story:
I would love to go to India to learn both massaging and Indian cooking!!
When and where would you recommend me to go? Is GOA it?? :)
And what is the minimum time I would need?
Lovely! For massage I learned in McCleod Ganj. For cooking, I think Rajasthan would be interesting!
thanks for the quick reply, rachel!!!
I also read your post on going during off season which is great advice so I googled off/peak season to travel in India and different webpages mention different months.
Is this because it differs depending on the region you go to?
Yes, the mountains and thr tropics will be opposite
hi, rachel.. may i know in manali and mcleod ganj did u book the hotel beforehand or just walked-in?
I called ahead.
SOme great tips. Im goInG to japan end of december to middle of january. No tourist around but a lot of local travel cuz of the new years but 2 week including plane, places to stay, train passes, and $600USD spending money only cost $1,800USD. Best deal Ｉ ever had