From spotting the “Big 5” in Botswana to soaking up the Caribbean sun, you don’t have to pay top dollar for
luxury travel experiences. “Off-season” or “shoulder season” is the perfect time to bag a bargain by traveling to the
world’s top seasonal destinations – while everyone else is busy elsewhere.
And while off-season travel is great for pinching pennies, remember that the “off-season” exists for a reason. Prepare
for the unexpected; heavy downpours or extreme temperature variations can quickly sink your outdoor plans and make transportation more complicated.
You may also find that some attractions or activities are closed, have limited hours or under repair. And with fewer tourists, you’re more
likely to be a target for pickpockets and other financial security concerns, so for added protection, you may want to enroll in an identity theft
protection service like LifeLock before leaving home.
With a little flexibility and pre-planning, however, you’ll avoid the crowds and save a bundle on these five off-season
#1: Diving Bonaire in Hurricane Season.
This hidden Caribbean Island is nearly empty during the August to November hurricane season. Home to intact reefs and diverse marine life,
diving Bonaire is like diving the Caribbean the way it used to be: pristine and untouched. During hurricane season, the water is still warm
and visibility consistently averages 100 feet, according to NatGeo. Dive operators and beachfront hotels offer steep discounts for off-season
#2: Tracking the Big 5 in Botswana.
November to April is the ,
according to Loney Planet, where frequent rain creates thick vegetation that makes wildlife harder to spot. The rain can wash out dirt roads and
also turns the landscape into a breeding ground for mosquitos and malaria. However, it’s also the season when luxury lodges discount safari
packages by 50% or more. The lush landscape attracts migrating birds and many animals also give birth during this period, which leads to more
dramatic predator-prey encounters.
#3: Dining in Paris for Thanksgiving.
Skip the turkey (and awkward family dinner drama) and head to the City of Love for a foodie Thanksgiving. Yes, Paris in late November may be a bit
colder and rainier than Paris in springtime, but you’ll benefit from discounted airfare, cheaper hotels, fewer crowds and shorter lines. Grab
a baguette, a bottle of wine, and a blanket and cozy up on the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower for a spectacular sunset. Afterwards, duck inside
a nearby café and warm up with buttery-rich delicacies like duck confit, escargot, and pate.
#4: Hiking Aspen and Telluride in the summer.
These swanky resort towns may be celebrity-central during the winter ski months, but they cut rates by up to 50% come summer. Day hikes lead to
hidden mountain lakes that are only accessible in the warmer months. Use the resorts as your base camp. After 12 hours of hiking at altitude,
your body will love a long soak in the hot tub!
#5: Exploring Costa Rica’s rainforest in November.
October marks the tail end of Costa Rica’s rainy season,
which means luxury eco-resorts still have plenty of discounted room rates (30 to 40% off) – but you won’t be suffering through all day
monsoon-like conditions, as Costa Rican Times points out. Head to Costa Rica’s undiscovered Osa Penninsula in the southwest for pristine
rainforest and upscale eco-lodging. Plan to hike, zip line, kayak or sunbathe yourself in the morning; expect a daily afternoon/evening downpour.
Kate Romero Kate leads a nomadic lifestyle, traveling and blogging about destinations around the world.