5 Reasons Why We Love Off-Season Travel

5 reasons why we love off-season travel
5 reasons why we love off-season travel
24 Hours in Copenhagen | MVMT Blog5 reasons why we love off-season travel

Not everyone thinks “Iceland” when they think winter travel. Except my family. Last winter, we traveled to Iceland and are officially hooked on off-season travel. So much so that we have planned another cold-weather trip this winter to the Faroe Islands. While our reasons for traveling off-season may apply to traveling to both warm and cold destinations, we have only experienced off-season travel to cold places in the winter, so our reasons come primarily from our winter weather cold destination travels. As a full disclaimer, I grew up primarily in Michigan and currently live in Chicago, and my parents now live in Toronto, so our family is accustomed to cold weather. Trekking through a foot or two of snow in the winter does not phase us, nor does driving through similar weather conditions. I agree completely with the Norwegian mantra that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes, so without further ado, here is our list of five reasons why we love off-season travel.

5 reasons why we love off-season travel

1. Cost-Saving

The most obvious reason to travel off-season is to save money. While some costs, such as food, remain the same year round, you can find significantly cheaper transportation and accommodation prices during the off-season, as airlines and hotels try to lure more people to those destinations so they don’t experience as much of a lull in their business. Flights from the U.S. to Iceland or Scandinavia regularly run for $300-$400 round trip in the off-season, and you can sometimes find flights for even cheaper if you plan ahead. WOW Air is my go-to for flights to Iceland, but I also check Expedia and Skyscanner regularly for cheap flights to these and to other destinations. Accommodations, including hotels, hostels, and airbnbs are also significantly cheaper in the winter months, which is particularly helpful for more expensive areas likes the Nordics.

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2. Less Crowded

Everyone who’s ever traveled during peak season has experienced the frustration of pushing through crowds of tourists to see popular sights and spending a large part of the day trying to get photos in front of interesting sights without swarms of tourists making the same goofy poses for their own photos right next to you.  You’ve experienced the chaos of parents trying to hold on to their screaming children and loud Americans being… loud. There is no peace and quiet to be found.

During the off-season, these crowds miraculously disappear. You have popular sights all to yourself and you can actually experience a city without impending chaos that you know will hit at any moment. You don’t have to deal with the stress that comes with pushing through large crowds of tourists. You can make a vlog of your adventures and actually hear your voice and not the voices of everyone else around you.

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3. Better Service

With fewer crowds comes better service. When you sit at a popular restaurant in peak season, waiters are regularly dealing with a full house and have less bandwith to offer each individual the best service possible. During the off-season, waiters have the flexibility to be more attentive to your individual needs. Visitor centers and tour companies are more likely to cater to your specific needs and goals. Any type of business you encounter will pay more attention to you and be more accommodating to your needs because they are dealing with a much lighter customer load.

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4. Authenticity

There’s something extremely raw and authentic about traveling to a place like Iceland, where “Ice” is in its name, during the cold, winter months. It would almost feel unnatural to stroll around Iceland in shorts and a tank top, as if you’re doing something wrong because Iceland isn’t ever supposed to be that warm. The same goes for any cold-weather destination, such as Scandinavia, Alaska, or northern Canada. The image of these places that I have in my mind is one of a dark, dreary, snow-covered town where sipping on a mug of hot chocolate in front of a wood-burning fireplace with my winter coat on is the only way to experience the area like a local.

When we arrived in Iceland at the end of November 2015, we were blown away by the beauty of the country. The vast emptiness we saw would not have looked the same without a passing blizzard and gloomy skies. Running into a cabin and enjoying a bowl of hot soup by the fireplace would not have been as satisfying in the summer months. And the endless sunrise and sunset views we had in the winter would not have existed in the summer months. It just felt right to experience Iceland in its unfiltered state – its “worst” state – and still enjoy every minute of it.

5 Reasons why we love off-season travel

5. Unique Activities

Many people avoid cold weather places in the off-season because they think their activities will be limited. This is not necessarily true. For example, in Iceland, you can hike or climb glaciers with a tour guide in the winter, which is not nearly the same experience as hiking a mountain on a sunny summer day. Sauna tours are often only offered in winter months – a tradition in some Scandinavian countries in which you take a sauna boat onto an icy lake and jump into the ice cold water from the sauna. You can only see the Northern Lights in the winter months. These are just a few examples of unique activities locals partake in that are only available in the off-season months.

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If we’ve convinced you to book a trip somewhere cold this winter, head on over to Skyscanner or Expedia and find yourself a cheap flight right now! Or, if you’re a student, check out STA Travel for the best deals. If you live in a cold weather location like me, you’re bracing yourself for many months of cold and snow. You might as well travel somewhere with the same blustery weather, and at least you’ll enjoy it more because you’re traveling!

These are our 5 reasons why we love off-season travel. Do you like traveling off-season? 

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Recently left my job as an attorney to pursue the work-from-anywhere/travel-everywhere life. I blog about traveling the world with a full time job, confronting your travel addiction, and pursuing your passions without going broke. Traveled to 21 countries on 4 continents since March 2017 and 48 countries total. Next big adventure is hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro in February 2018.

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26 thoughts on “5 Reasons Why We Love Off-Season Travel

  1. I was so close to going to Iceland this Christmas but I was a bit put off because we were going to self drive and wasn’t too sure about safety at this time of year as I’ve never driven in snow/ Ice. All your reasons above were why we wanted to go then! I think I might go in the Summer to do the driving thing and then go back again another time in the winter to experience it then. If you fly from the US to England with Iceland Air they let you have a free stopover 🙂

    1. That would have been amazing, Claire, but completely understand your hesitation with driving in the snow. I got my drivers license in January in Michigan, so I pretty much learned to drive in the snow before I learned to drive on normal roads! And yes- I just discovered the free stopover and booked a RT flight from Chicago to Paris with a free 2-day stopover in Iceland! So I will be going back to Iceland in March 🙂

  2. Absolutely! I hate the over-priced, booked accommodation of PEAK travel season. Off season travel is so much better to enjoy the sites peacefully, and usually at much better prices. Some of my favorite journeys were off-season!

  3. You are so right. I love travelling out of the season. You really do have a better experience!
    I am so jealous of your up and coming trip to the Faroe Islands. I have wanted to go there for a while. Enjoy your hot chocolate in the snow 🙂

    1. Yes – less crowds is definitely one of my favorite perks to off-season travel. Glad to hear you appreciate off-season travel as well, Natalie! I’m sure the kids don’t mind getting pulled out of school 😉

  4. This is such an interesting article.
    I’m from Québec (now living in northern Germany) and people often ask me what’s the best time to visit, which is really tricky. We have so many cool activities during winter, such as outdoors sports, the Québec Carnival, the Ice Hotel, Igloofest (an electronic music festival held outside!).
    I’ve also been to Morocco during Ramadan and loved the peace and quiet it gave us!

    1. I’ve experienced the same thing when people ask when to visit Chicago! All those things in Quebec sound so fun! I haven’t been in over 10 years and am long due for a return visit. Thanks for reading, Aryane. 🙂

  5. We love off season travel for the same reasons! Costs and crowds being the main ones. We’re usually pretty good about going in shoulder seasons but this year we’ll be going to Guatemala and Belize over the Christmas Holidays…. the more we plan the more we regret this decision lol. Everything is so darn expensive and packed!

    1. We’re going to St. Thomas in USVI for Christmas, so we’re in the same boat! We’ve done a warm weather vacation every Christmas for probably the last decade, and that’s the one exception we’ll make to our off-season travel rule. I can deal with the crowds and expensive everything once a year. Thanks for reading, Ivy. 🙂

  6. This is such a stunning photo filled post! I think there are a lot of perks of the off-peak season, especially the authenticity! Doesn’t hurt having less crowds, too!

  7. I LOVE travelling off season and I ALWAYS do it. I remember when I went to Santorini in winter and there was NOONE around. half of the island was in fact closed and there were maybe 10 other tourist in total. I love it and it just gives me such a better sense of the place and the culture!

    1. That’s so cool, Sabrina! I feel like every photo of Santorini I’ve ever seen is a summer shot, so I don’t even know what Santorini would look like in the winter. Great idea though!

    1. Ah, I see. Do you get summer holidays? Here in the U.S., teachers get some vacation time around Christmas and about 3 months in the summer! You could try traveling to warm places in the summer months if you can bear the heat – that would also be off season. Anyway, peak-season travel is still better than no travel at all!

  8. This is great! I also believe that traveling during not so busy hours can be rewarding. I don’t enjoy super crowded tourist destinations and I would prefer to go when it’s calmer.

    1. I can imagine how beautiful Sweden would be in February! I went in mid-November, before they had their first snowfall, but I’d love to go back in the dead of winter – there is just something so authentic and beautiful about a snow-covered Sweden. 🙂

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