Not enough people travel in the off-season. What do I mean by the ‘off-season’? Typically the off-season in Europe can mean anywhere from October – March. Basically, the last three months of the year and the first three months. If you haven’t traveled in the off-season before, you’re seriously missing out! It’s probably my biggest not-so-secret secret, that I use to score cheap flights every time I travel. For a little cooler weather, you can enjoy many other perks of off-season traveling in Europe. So here are 6 reasons to travel Europe in the off-season!
1. Amazing Flight Deals
Flights during the summer can be outrageously priced. The main reason I travel in the off-season is so I can see more, for less. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll throw in a summer holiday every now and then, but my current lifestyle usually only affords me to travel in the off-season. I know I am definitely not the only one! That’s one of the reasons I get so bummed when I hear people talk about how they wish they could go places “like me,” but can’t afford it. If I can afford it, you can afford it. Travel in the off-season when prices dramatically dip. Some of my favorites include Paris, London, Barcelona, and anywhere in Scandinavia.
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2. Cheap Accommodation
The off-season also brings cheaper accommodation for tourists. I swear you guys, I am going to hammer this in to you. You can save a ton of money during the off-season. Accommodation doesn’t have to cost you a million dollars, or a week in a dodgy hostel. You can get a really nice hotel or Airbnb during the off-season for much cheaper than in the summer. You may have not realized it, but Airbnb does have lower prices during the off-season as well. Hotels are really trying to bring in money during the off-season, since they struggle a bit with tourism. So definitely take advantage of that by traveling in the off-season, and you can score some amazing deals! Then blow all your money on the buffet breakfast (mmm). Jk, don’t do that…
3. Better Snaps
The winter months in Europe are often overlooked by tourists, who only wish to holiday in the summer. So another really great thing about the off-season, is that you can get much better photos. That guy’s huge head in the way of the Mona Lisa (note the above example)? Did that 5-year-old run in front of your selfie at the Eiffel Tower? So annoying right?! Traveling in the off-season means less tourists, which means better photos. Typically I have to wake up super early if I want a really cool shot, which is something I did in Prague last summer on the Charles Bridge. However, during the off-season you’re going to have a better chance to get the great photos you want at any time of the day.
4. No Waiting in Line
Along with better photos, you’ll also find minimal lines (queues) in the off-season. Lines can take up so much of your vacation sometimes. I remember when we went to the Eiffel Tower, the queue was nearly two hours long. It was really intense. We also went smack dab in the middle of June. By traveling in the off-season you’ll get less tourists and less lines to stand in. You do have to be careful of certain attractions having different times through late fall and until early spring. Sometimes hours will change due to less tourists, and I know some tours don’t run at all. However most major popular attractions are open all year long.
5. Great Service
Ever dealt with a really rude server before, because they’re clearly stressed out by the amount of tables they have? Now imagine none of those tables speak their language. I find that the locals are much more pleasant and open to tourists when it’s not smack dab in the middle of tourism season. Therefore, you tend to get a little better service during this time. We complain here in Arizona too when all the ‘snow birds’ come down for the winter. It makes us miserable because they really don’t know how to drive (or so we say). It’s just the nature of things. Locals will be complaining about tourists until the day tourism dies, which will probably never happen. So, travel in the off-season and you can look forward to better service with more pleasant locals.
6. A More Authentic Experience
Since it’s just you and the locals in the off-season, you tend to get a much more authentic experience. Sometimes it can be quite hard to see what a city is really like, with all the crazy little tourist traps that exist. You know what I’m talking about. A million little shops that sell the same keychain and are sardine packed with people. Among other things, the authenticity of the city often gets distorted for guests. With the locals out and about, I find that more people are willing to strike up a conversation and go out of their comfort zone when there’s not a million tourists around. It makes for a really authentic experience. You become just another local roaming the streets for a little breakfast.
Taking in to account all these things, you really can’t beat traveling Europe in the off-season. This is probably the biggest way I am able to make a lot of my trips happen. Yes it is cold and dreary sometimes, but I typically try to hit places in October or March. During those months of autumn and spring, it’s really not so bad. You can still get some amazing weather. Besides, sometimes a little snow can be such a beautiful sight to see!
So next time you’re thinking of purchasing those hefty $1,300 tickets, just know that the off-season has your back. Have a little adventure and travel in the off-season, all while saving money.
Have you traveled to Europe in the off-season before? What was the best part?