Off Season Travel: Should you or should you not? My experiences in China, Costa Rica, and D.C.

I’m a big advocate of off-season travel, something I sort of fell into back in 2007.   Jeremy and I had just moved to Ohio and it was our first Christmas away from family. As I sat at the kitchen table and cried over our Christmas ham, feeling like we were the only people not with our families that day, I realized the only thing that would cheer me up was to get out of town and get my mind off of it.

Last minute flights the day after Christmas were out of the question, but a road trip was definitely within reach. I quickly created a plan and we were on our way to D.C. through the snow. Was it cold? Sure. Did we wait in a single line at a museum? Nope. Were there crowds? None to be found.

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Hello? Where is everyone?

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So what is considered the off-season? Well it really depends on where you are traveling. For example:

Winter:

  • Wine Country
  • Europe
  • NYC, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, D.C.

Summer:

  • Vegas, Arizona, New Mexico
  • Australia and Thailand (well our summer is their winter!)

After that trip to D.C., it made me consider trying off-season travel again. Here are a couple other trips we’ve taken during non-traditional times of the year:

Costa Rica

Summertime in Costa Rica is the rainy season, but if you’re planning to visit the rainforest anyway, what’s a little more rain gonna do to ya? We went this past July for our 10 year wedding anniversary and for every overcast and rainy day, there was another that was gorgeous and sunny.  We understand every trip isn’t going to have perfect weather, so we don’t let it bother us one bit – there’s always something to explore even if bad weather strikes.

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China

At temperatures just over freezing, December 2013 took us to Beijing, a bucket list trip that during the winter had us feeling like we had private access to just about every destination on our list.

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Imagine going to THE Great Wall of China and having its beauty all to yourself.

 

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The Summer Palace was even more of an experience getting to walk on the frozen lake.

 

Still not convinced off-season travel is worth trying out? Here’s some pros and cons to consider:

Pros

  • Cost Savings
  • Fewer Crowds
  • Flexibility with booking and tickets are less likely to sell out
  • See the area more like a local
  • Potentially safer travel (pick pockets know to target tourists in large crowds)

Cons

  • Weather challenges – extreme temperatures (hot and cold), hurricanes, snow storms, etc.
  • Restaurants and tourist attractions may be closed for the season
  • Shorter daylight means less hours to explore

 

My advice for off-season travel?

  • Set realistic expectations
  • Be flexible
  • Decide if it is really for you

 

Have you ever traveled during the off-season? What was your experience like?