Airfare, hotels and even some tourist attractions get pricier during high-season, when swarms of travelers fly in from around the world in record numbers. But while weather conditions might be perfect during high-season, it's during the off-season that you want to travel. From cheaper airfare to empty cruises, here's a look at how off-season travel lets you experience the world without spending a fortune.
Airfare Plummets in the Off-Season
Low airfare is just one of the many desirable advantages of off-season travel. But, you'll need to do your research to find when your favorite destinations are in low season. South Florida and Hawaii, for example, are premier destinations in the spring, when crowds are thinner but the weather is still warm.
But maybe you're raring to take the kids out on an adventure over the summer when they're on break. While summer flight prices are traditionally high, some destinations actually have lower rates during the hotter months of the year. Some typical winter destinations like ski resorts see a dip in foot traffic in the summer, but still have a lot to offer visitors when the snow's melted, reported Consumer Reports.
Even destinations like the Caribbean see a dip in tourism over the summer. If you can handle scorching temperatures, you're bound to find steep discounts on airfare. For even deeper discounts, keep your travel plans open and run "flexible trip" searches with online travel sites.
Get Low-Cost Luxury Seating on Empty Flights
These days, plane passengers don't just pay extra for premium seats. On the contrary, many airlines charge hidden fees for the more desirable economy seats, such as those with a few extra inches of legroom.
For example, Air New Zealand charges up to $1,500 extra for two passengers in its Economy Skycouch seating. This fee gets you three seats with flip-up footrests and armrests that transform the row into a comfy couch.
If you arrange for off-season travel, you might not need to pay for better seats. When a long-haul flight is half empty, create your own "sky couch" by nabbing an empty economy row and a few pillows. You'll arrive at your destination rested and ready for fun.
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You Can Pay Less to Stay Longer
It's common knowledge that hotel rates drop during the low season. Along with scoring hotel rooms for rock-bottom rates, you can often purchase luxury accommodations for less.
According to the New York Times, Miami hotels often reduce high-season rates by 50 percent during slow times. Additionally, you can snag special deals like free valet service, a fourth night free or a hefty credit toward meals at the hotel restaurant.
If you've been dreaming of taking a vacation in Europe on the cheap, expect to find lower hotel rates from November through March. The cold will be biting, but popular destinations tend to be more affordable, reported USA Today. Travel from mid-June through August, though, and say goodbye to your savings.
Leisure Activities Cost Less
Whatever leisure activities you have in mind for your vacation, you'll likely pay less during the low season. If getting a relaxing massage or rejuvenating facial made your short list, book during the off-season to get more for your money. In fact, in July and August, Miami's low season, the city's premier spas (under the auspices of "Spa Month") drop their prices by up to 50 percent.
You'll find great spa deals when you head to ski country in warm weather, as well. Spas in Vail, Colo., for example, offer significant discounts for off-season visitors.
If you'd rather spend time with a caddy than a massage therapist, you'll find discounts on off-season greens fees across the country. Even the famed Pebble Beach golf course drops its hefty greens fee from $525 to $495 off-season.
Off-Season Tours Are Less Expensive
If you dream of embarking on a wildlife safari in Africa or a guided tour of Egypt's pyramids, rearranging your schedule can save you money. According to Travel & Leisure, safari lodges offer serious low-season deals and discounts, with prices dropping by up to 40 percent.
For example, you'll pay up to $3,770 in the high season for a family tent at the legendary Cottar's Safari Service, which boasts sunset views across the Serengeti. However, green-season (mid-March through May) prices dip to $2,181 a night.
Many tour companies offer special off-season discounts, as well. Go Ahead Tours, for example, cuts prices on tours happening around the world — from Alaska to the UK and Italy — and seeing low demand.
You Can Go Cruising for a Deal
If you want to relax on an affordable cruise, you can still get big discounts by scheduling your trip off-season. High and low seasons vary depending on the body of water in question, so do your research before booking a trip.
While you can certainly score a deal on a traditional ocean cruise during the off-season, the best savings occur on the river. Not only can you get discount rates on European river cruises during the "shoulder" months of fall or early spring, but you'll also enjoy more elbow room and better choices in accommodations at this time of year.
Repositioning cruises will save you even more. With this cruise option, your ship departs from one port and drops you at another. As a result, you can explore two different cities while enjoying big discounts. Best of all, repositioning cruises are also typically less crowded, so you won't have to worry about packed pools or lines at the buffet.
When you are getting ready to travel, don't forget the various ways you can save money with off-season travel. It's a win for your travel budget and your vacation experience.