12 Jan Winter Vacations
Winter is a time most people dream about vacations while huddled at home trying to stay warm. But, winter can be the perfect season for travel; the off season increases the number of discounts and special offers available on flights, hotels and guides. Locations where a seasonal lull combines with relatively good weather is a perfect match, especially if you’re interested in getting a truer view of locals’ daily lives and saving a few bucks. Of course the big exception to this falls in winter break, usually December 15 – January 15, when prices spike and nearly everyone is on the move.
Slow season is optimal if you want to see touristy areas or monuments without dealing with crowds. It’s also ideal for delving more deeply into the culture of a place, seeing how the locals live and joining them in activities not made for visitors. During high-season (and particularly in highly frequented travel spots) locals play to tourists’ wants and expectations, giving travelers a less authentic view of their traditional activities and pastimes. Exploring during low-season can render a more realistic view of local traditions and many times opportunities to engage in a deeper and more meaningful way, like participating in rituals or home stays.
Off-season is also a great time to take advantage of inexpensive lodging, tours and transportation, in the form of discounts, freebies, special offers, packages and negotiation leverage. People in the tourism industry are eager to book their services and willing to compromise in order to do so.
For me, the relaxed environment of a tourist-free trip with ample space to explore is exactly what I want. This makes travel between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, in places like Mexico, Central America, Northern South America and South East Asia, excellent choices. In the states, the beaches of the Florida panhandle make great winter destinations. Take weather into consideration when looking at higher latitudes or rugged high-altitude terrain which may not be accessible during winter months.
This year I spent a winter stint in Florida and was surprised to find the beautiful beaches empty. Certainly it wasn’t summer beach weather, but it wasn’t cold and still perfect for long walks on the beach, listening to the waves, relaxing and getting away for the stress of the daily grind. Part of this is psychological – going to the beach in winter seems counter-intuitive …though it shouldn’t. Having the beach all to yourself is tranquil and delightful.
Another recent winter trip I took was to Thailand. Off-season prices were only the icing on the cake. I spent my days hiking, exploring, sunbathing, and swimming, enjoying the beautiful scenery and not feeling limited by the season at all.
Have you traveled places during off-season? Where did you go and what was the experience like? Share your experiences in the comments below.