7 Reasons Why You Should Travel During Low Season | Responsible Travel
There are a lot of reasons why "high-seasons" for travel exist. People often want to visit warm destinations in the winter and to avoid too hot of destinations in the summer. In general, we love summers in Europe, we love to take advantage of activities that are popular during certain times of the year, and we want to make the most out of the precious vacation time we have.
That being said, low season travel (also known as, "off-season travel") provides many benefits for both travellers and local communities, especially when it comes to tackling issues related to overtourism. Overtourism has a significant impact on local communities, the environment, and traveller experiences.
What is "overtourism" and how can we help as travellers?
Overtourism is said to describe destinations where "hosts or guests, locals or visitors feel that there are too many visitors and that the quality of life in the area or the quality of the experience has deteriorated unacceptably."* Around the world, overtourism is contributing to the depletion of resources, the destruction of land, over-consumption and creation of waste, rising costs for local populations, the displacement of Indigenous peoples, the overloading of systems, and more.
But, there are tons of benefits to travel -- Travel has the ability to support local communities, economies, culture, and so much more. After all, many communities and destinations rely on travel and tourism. In 2020, 1 in every 10 people was employed by the industry.**
So, where is the balance?
The opposite of overtourism is 'responsible tourism', where tourism is used to support the conservation and development of destinations, and increase the quality of life for locals, as well as visitors.
One way we can take part in responsible tourism is to travel during the low season. This blog post dives into the perks and benefits of low season travel for both travellers and local communities.
Benefits of travelling during low season
Travelling during the low season can save you a lot of money. Between cheaper flights, accommodation, and even restaurant prices at times, cost savings is one-way travellers are encouraged to book a trip during an off-season time of year. This means your trip can end up costing overall less money, or that you will have more money to spend elsewhere, like on upgrades, activities, or souvenirs. Try googling, "low season travel months" for your destination of choice and you might be surprised with what you find!
Perhaps one of my favourite parts about travelling during the low season is the absence of overwhelming crowds, particularly at famous landmarks or in prominent cities. One of the reasons I like to wake up early when I travel is to avoid crowds. I enjoy taking my time and spending a few moments in silence -- taking in my experience and noticing the sights, smells, and sounds around me. Unfortunately, large, bustling crowds can sometimes overwhelm the experience and drown out the details. Travelling during the low season can help to avoid a lot of this. Fewer crowds also means transit systems are less likely to be overwhelmed, creating ease for both travellers and the local population as they navigate the city and daily life.
Similar to avoiding crowds, another perk of low season travel is experiencing shorter lines. This includes lineups to enter famous landmarks, lineups for food and beverage, at restaurants, and so much more.
Didn't book all of your activities, accommodation, and transportation months in advance? Travelling during the low season can offer a lot more flexibility and opportunity for new experiences due to lower demand and an increase in availability.
Better photo Ops
Travelling to famous locations and iconic landmarks often means needing a lot of patience if you're looking to snap photos without herds of people in the background, or someone walking in front of you every few moments. I think most of us have encountered one of those "Instagram vs. Reality" moments when travelling and it can be a real shock or downer to the experience. Travelling during the low season can remove a lot of this stress and save a lot of time, with more opportunities for photography and to enjoy the overall experience without the pressure of snapping the perfect photo.
Get a better sense of local life
When there aren't mass crowds of tourists overwhelming a destination, you'll see a higher proportion of locals out and about, enjoying daily life. This means you may get a better sense of what that looks like for the local population. This can also increase your chances of mingling and getting to know locals and participating in unique experiences enjoyed by the community.
Supports local businesses when they need it most
During high season, shops and local business owners may be overwhelmed with crowds and increased sales. However, it can be challenging for locals who depend on tourism to get by during the low season. By travelling during off-season times of the year, you can contribute to and support local businesses and communities when they need it most.
Overtourism can cause great hardship and damage to local communities from overwhelming the population and environment through over-consumption, the displacement of local people, the overloading of systems, and more.
By visiting during the low season, travellers can better contribute to the development and well-being of local communities while also enjoying perks and benefits that will positively contribute to their experience.
Have you ever travelled during low season?
* Source: "OverTourism: What is it and how do we address it?" (2016). Responsible Tourism Partnership.
** Source: Pergament (2021). The New York Times.