When Off-Season Budget Travel is a Bad Idea

It’s always shoulder season somewhere. Off-season travel can be a wonderful experience for your family when tourist destinations quiet down and vacation deals are up for grabs. But is off season travel always a steal? Not really. From staring down the eye of a tropical storm to paying just slightly below premium prices, here’s when off-season budget travel is a bad idea.

When the Weather is Crazy Dangerous

This should go without saying, but not every family traveler really thinks about the consequences of hurricane season, heat waves and epic snow drifts. It’s not always necessary to avoid inclement weather, but you need to do some serious research in advance. Even if you’re pretty sure a hurricane won’t hit anywhere near you, don’t dismiss tropical storms that can be just as destructive as a hurricane. Even nonstop downpours and snow can make it impossible to get out of your hotel room and do much but use the indoor pool. If you decide to go for it anyway, make sure to invest in travel insurance that actually covers hurricanes and natural disasters. Many travelers find out too late that many policies do not.

When Everything is Abandoned for the Season

You found that amazing deal in a sleepy ski town in early fall or a beach in a cold-weather destination.The views might be spectacular, but the novelty will quickly wear thin if everything is closed down for the season. From ski towns to beach resorts, many off-season destinations slow down to a halt. Think your family can handle it anyway? Bring along lots of back-up, from games to puzzles to off-season activities like hiking or shelling on the beach.

Off season at the beach

Off-season beach. Photo: James Kirkikis | Dreamstime.com

When The Deal is Just Okay

Just because it’s shoulder season doesn’t mean you’re going to get the deal of a lifetime. Many popular off-season destinations manage to keep prices high by advertising special packages. They might also roll out special activities, like poolside movies, drive-ins and free food and drink, in an insanely hot off-season destination. But look closely and you may find the rate just isn’t that much different than right around peak season. Do your research and hold out for a deal that actually makes an impact on your bank account.

Off-season travel can be a slam dunk for frugal family travelers looking to see more of the world without the hefty price tag. But it can also lay the groundwork for the worst family vacation of a lifetime. Carefully weigh the pros and cons to your trip before booking, and remember to always have a plan B, from indoor play centers to hotel kids clubs while parents relax at the on-site restaurant. After all, if the kids are happy, the parents are happy.