12 Off-Season Travel Deals You’ll Want to Book Now, According to Experts
Three travel experts tell us where they go when they want to keep a tight budget.
Nicaragua during the rainy season (May through November)
“You get the same beaches as in Costa Rica—same water, same climate, and for a lot less money,” says savings.com CEO Loren Bendele. “When you start researching Nicaragua, you’ll find ‘Don’t go during the rainy season because it might rain the whole time you’re there.’ But the locals all say it’s their favorite time of year because everything is green and lush, fresh and clear. During the dry season, it’s hot, it’s dry; there’s dust and dirt everywhere. Do the research—don’t stop at the first hurdle.” These are the best plane seats for every need.
Need a beachy winter or spring escape on a budget? Try Barbados. “Bigger islands have the better deals, and smaller islands have more luxury,” says New York Times Frugal Travel blogger Seth Kugel. “Barbados struck me as a very nice compromise, right in the middle. It’s a very manageable island. You have your beach areas and then vast expanses if you want to get away and go hiking. The island also offers a great bus system.” Avoid these stressful vacation mistakes on your next trip.
Cayman Islands in summer
“I had to go down to the Cayman Islands for one night this summer,” says Nina Willdorf, editor in chief of Budget Travel. “It was 85 degrees, slight breeze, just perfect. We had the pool to ourselves. There was always a stool at the beach bar. The people working there were eager to help because they had time.” These are the 13 things most likely to get you flagged by the TSA.
Tuscany in winter
This stunning region of Italy clears out in winter, making way for lots of great travel deal. “It was a little colder, but we owned it,” says Bendele. “No crowds, no traffic, a lot less expensive.” These are the most luxury hotels in the world.
Lake Tahoe in summer
“I’ve spent time in the Tahoe area in California in summer, which is just gorgeous,” says Willdorf. “Ski resorts have a lot of deals to attract travelers in the off-season.”
Europe in winter
Because many of the cultural destinations in Europe are inside, it’s the perfect place to visit in the cooler months. “I would consider Old World cities like Paris, Amsterdam, and Berlin,” says Willdorf. “Hotel prices are much lower, and most activities would be indoors anyway.”
Canyonlands National Park in winter
“A good friend said they were going in December, the coldest time of the year, because they would be the only people there,” says Bendele. “And that’s what we did. We were the only ones there for five days. You’ve never experienced such silence in your life. It’s ominous and weird not to hear wind or traffic. How would that have felt if I were hearing footsteps behind me, if I were seeing people off in the distance?” Don’t miss these national parks that are off the beaten trail.
Vail, Colorado, in summer
“Everyone says that people move there for the ski seasons and never leave because of the summers,” says Bendele. “In the winter, it’s all about skiing and snowboarding. In the summer, it’s all about hiking, rafting, rock climbing, great live music concerts, just hanging out, camping, swimming, fishing, fly-fishing. As far as value, ski towns in the summertime are phenomenal.”
ABC islands in summer (or even hurricane season)
Want to take a tropical vacation in late summer, but don’t want a last minute weather-related cancellation? Try the ABC islands. “I would suggest the ABC islands—Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao—because they aren’t on the typical hurricane route,” says Willdorf. Want a tropical vacation without leaving the states? These are the best beaches in America.
South/Southwest in winter
“I love the South during February and March: Austin, New Orleans, Phoenix, Las Vegas,” says Bendele. “You just have to make sure there’s nothing so big going on that will make it either too expensive or too crowded.” These are best free tourist attractions in every state.
Punta Cana anytime
“The average high in January is 81,” says Willdorf. “In August, it’s 87. Not a big temperature difference, but you’ll see a huge savings.”
Cool small towns in America
The winter and spring months are some of the best times to stay close to home and check out quirky towns across the U.S. “You’re going to meet the locals and discover a relaxing way to experience the best of America,” says Willdorf. These are the perfect small towns to visit in spring.