Stores and attractions are closed. Scraggly brown, dead-looking plants sprawl hither and yon. Streets are deserted… spooky. Hotels are run by bare-bones staff, if they’re open at all. Eek! Do YOU dare to brave the “Low Season” in a place like Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts?
I was tempted to ask the question, “Is It Worth it to Travel in the Off Season?” in the title of this article, then scrawl the word “YES,” and leave it at that. You see, the “Low Season” is my new love. Yes, the prices are lower, but something else balances out the aggravation of sparse amenities and scruffy foliage.
Two things make Low Season travel worth it: Simplification and Difference. Let’s start with Simplification. During our recent Off Season travel to Martha’s Vineyard in April, life got clearly into focus. Food? There were about two restaurants open, so… easy choice. People? There were hardly any on the street, (most of who were construction workers spiffing everything up for the High Season), so Colin and I just focused on each other and our cute baby. Easy!
Activities? Even easier. There were four mandatory tourist things to do: Eat delicious food, walk the beach by the Aquinnah and Edgartown lighthouses, pet alpacas, and ogle some Gingerbread Cottages. (You’ve got to love a destination where petting an alpaca is a mandatory activity.)
Ahh, how relaxing it was to travel somewhere with only four “Must Do” tourism items, in contrast to our recent travels in India which had more “Must Do” activities in one day than a dictionary has words! A well-balanced tourist portfolio calls for both scenes.
Now we come to the Difference perk of Off Season travel. Any old Joe can take photos of chock-full beaches during the High Season months in Martha’s Vineyard and other popular locales, but how serene is this empty street view of Edgartown?
I’ve always had a drive to travel differently. In my early 20s, I took it to an extreme by living in Peru for three months (during their winter) without making an effort to see Machu Picchu. Now, while I would not advocate that extreme (it would have been neat to see that famous place, in retrospect!), it certainly gives a different travel narrative than the Inca Trail. Similarly, my memories of Martha’s Vineyard are likely quite different than those of the average summer visitor.
This is to say, from Martha’s Vineyard to a far-flung continent, you CAN make the “Low Season” work for you, particularly if you yearn for Simplification and Difference!
So what’s YOUR take on whether it’s worth it to brave a place when no one else wants to go?