September 27, 2023 · Budget, Holiday, Vacation

How to Save Money with an Off-Peak Season Vacation

Spring and summer are when many people take the bulk of their vacation time; with warm weather, there is no bulky winter clothing, there are more sports (especially water sports) and other outdoor activities available, it’s generally sunny, and dedicated sun lovers can work on their suntans.

With a high demand for travel in warm months—peak travel season—also come seasonal (and often higher prices) for transportation and lodging. Getting somewhere and staying there is usually less expensive during the fall and winter. If costs are an issue when considering travel, then an off-peak season sojourn can be an opportunity to save and get more enjoyable experiences for less money. Off-peak months in the U.S. are approximately September through March, the core fall and winter months, which is also when most schools are still in session.

Begin off-peak season vacation plans with some extensive research, including registering for deal emails and U.S. Postal Service mail from tour operators, airlines, cruise lines, resorts, hotels and online travel sites for regular notification of upcoming sales, last-minute, quick “flash” bargains and other types of savings. Some credit card providers also offer travel deals exclusively for card members that should be looked into. Did you know that Delta Community offers vacation loans if more cash is needed to make a dream trip an exciting reality?

The benefits of a vacation off season

So, what are some of the benefits of an off-peak season excursion? Well…

Discounts for hotels, resorts, Airbnb, Inc., bed-and-breakfasts, and other lodging. With more capacity during the off season, both lodging chains and independent owner and operators are eager to fill rooms, and they are willing to lower prices—sometimes steeply—to entice potential guests to book rooms now. Deals could include discounts for rooms and multi-day stays, included no-cost meals, and free (or lower cost) tickets to location museums, performances and other attractions.

For some airline frequent flyer program members, their program may feature deals on off-peak season flights. During off season travel, it may cost fewer frequent flyer miles to book some trips, so frequent flyer program members need to research what special savings they can get. The usual restricted “blackout dates” for holidays will very likely still apply, but cashing in less miles for more travel is still well worth investigating.

Smaller groups, shorter lines, greater availability and less time waiting. Fewer people means less demand to board (and disembark) planes and cruise ships, visit attractions or performances, take tours, catch a taxi, reserve a table in restaurants and move around freely in stores. Smaller crowds mean better availability for seats, tickets and rooms—along with shorter lines, faster boarding and, overall, having less time to wait—means that travelers may have improved choices and are more likely to get more activities done easier and quicker.

Potentially lower prices in stores and restaurants. Fewer shoppers means fewer purchases, so stores will often lower prices to generate more foot traffic that could translate into more sales. Savings at stores can create a good opportunity to buy not just something for yourself, but birthday, holiday and other gifts for family and friends. Similarly, restaurants may offer specials to pull in international visitors and local residents.

Less hustle, bustle, mess and stress. Lower costs, fewer people, briefer lines to wait through and  reduced competition to visit attractions could contribute to less travel stress. Overall, more peace of mind can be worth a lot, since isn’t the entire point of a vacation to relax, enjoy yourself and worry less about as many things as possible?

What else to consider about a vacation off season

In the Northern Hemisphere, weather is likely to be cooler and damp. Western and Eastern Europe—including countries around the Mediterranean Sea, are likely to be somewhat cold and damp. For outdoor sports such as skiing, snowboarding, snowtubing, snowshoeing and ice skating, conditions may be ideal. Countries in Central America and the Caribbean will be warmer, but winter is also when there is a seasonal influx of tourists fleeing chilly and snowy U.S. weather for more temperate climates, so there may be fewer discounts. Africa and the Middle East should be reliably cool to warm.

Taking children for an off-peak season vacation may create less recreational time and more academic effort. U.S. elementary, middle and high schools will usually permit students to have a few missed school days for personal and family reasons, but often the children will then need to stay current with their studies and make up missed work within a reasonable amount of time. An off-season vacation of less than a week to a full week with children may be most practical, especially if the vacation can coincide with scheduled school breaks for holidays.

Looking for more travel and vacation advice?

For more information that may help you manage your costs and finances, look into the free Delta Community Financial Education Center webinars on a range of practical, “how to” financial topics. Please visit the Financial Education Center's Events & Seminars page to review and register for its on-demand webinars.

The Credit Union’s blog has more information on vacation and travel that could save money or potentially help avoid risks: