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?
The author, Lillie Marshall, is a 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 4.2 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!
Monday 4th of December 2017
I usually travel just to get myself out of my busy days. My goal is usually to go there, rest, and relax myself and enjoy a world free from all the chaos from my busy days while at work at home. I'll definitely choose the low season anytime I intend to do this so the notion for traveling during the low season is absolutely correct.
Wednesday 27th of September 2017
I love traveling a lot but I don't always plan when I travel. Most times, I just have to travel because of one need or the other. I guess I will have to be fully settled before I can enjoy the luxury of being able to choose my own travel season. Cheers!
Friday 14th of April 2017
I suspect that the main reason you would want to go on a vacation is to rest, relax yourself and enjoy the freedom from a busy world. And the most appropriate period to get things is the low season. So I'll say low season travel is the best for those who understand this logic.
Friday 14th of April 2017
Tuesday 24th of February 2015
For cheaper and better travel experience it is better to travel in mid-season, rather than low season.
Sunday 23rd of August 2015
If your itinerary includes weather-related activities like swimming then you're right. If you're visiting for museums, photography, getting away from other people then the off-season is often very pleasant. I've gone scuba diving in 20-degree weather, hiking in the rain (it's fun with the right attitude), prefer my landscape photography without people in them, and so forth. The downside if you love souvenir shopping and trendy restaurants is that they might be closed in the off-season. The upside is that you get to eat at the places the locals tend to eat which is a real treat when you travel abroad. What sucks is when your kids are school-age because then you don't have the flexibility of when you travel.
Monday 11th of August 2014
I sometimes quite like going in low season, deals are often much better and less touristy though there have been a couple of occasions where we have found many things to be shut and weather to be terrible so I guess it partly depends on location and what you are hoping to get out of the trip!