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A Short Guide to Traveling in the Off-Season

Summer gets the lion’s share of attention from tourists, which makes sense. The weather’s hot, work is slow, and advertisements for travel deals ramp up to a yearlong high.

But don’t let the allure fool you into thinking that winter is the only time to travel. If you can stomach a bit of cold, you may find that winter and early spring are ideal times to pack your bags and see the world. Regardless of the season you travel, pack clothing you can wear as layers for comfort in a variety of climates and weather conditions.  For an outer layer, research the best light or heavy jackets, such as Canada Goose, in your budget (depending on where you travel).

Let’s get some housekeeping out of the way to begin; the off-season, as defined here, refers to the months between November and March when Northern Hemisphere locations dip in temperature and the tourist industry slows to a crawl.

Below, explores a short guide to capitalizing on this magical season – including why to travel in the off-season, how to pack for the weather and what to consider before you go.

 Why Travel in the Off-Season?

Why brave the cold when you could save your tourist dollars for a warmer time? Here are a few reasons to mull over as you start planning a trip:

  • The off-season is cheaper all around: Flights, accommodations, attractions and even restaurant meals are cheaper in the off-season as tourism-dependant locations attempt to lure winter crowds.
  • Fewer tourists, shorter lines: If you’re sick of standing elbow-to-elbow in line to see the Louvre or the Empire State Building, consider traveling in the off-season. You’ll find far fewer tourists and much shorter lines.
  • Winter has its undeniable charms: As you’ll see below, winter can be just as exciting as the warmer months for travel.

Those are just a few points to consider as you orchestrate your next trip.

 Packing for the Weather

Despite its many benefits, traveling in the off-season does require some added planning. Specifically, you need to pack for the weather.

The best way to plan for unpredictable cold is to layer the right material. The best material for winter (according to several seasoned travelers) is merino wool, which manages to be insulating and sweat-wicking for unparalleled versatility. Before you pack, peruse a men’s or women’s merino clothing line for basic base layers and middle layers (like sweatshirts and zip-ups). For an outer layer, research the best light or heavy jackets in your budget (depending on where you travel). To keep your electronics safe and functional during off-season travel, invest in an EMP bag. It provides an additional layer of protection against weather-related damage, including extreme temperatures and humidity. This investment ensures that you can enjoy your travels worry-free, knowing that your devices are safeguarded against potential harm.

 Lean into the Season

You won’t be picnicking in the gardens at Hyde Park or visiting the Tokyo Zoo – but that doesn’t mean those destinations can’t be fun. All you have to do is lean into the season, exploring seasonally appropriate experiences that tie into your destination.

If you’re in London, consider going for a skate in front of Somerset House, capped off with a long, leisurely pint at one of the city’s (many) centuries-old pubs. Instead of lamenting what you can’t do in Japan, research the slate of winter-specific experiences, like bathing in the outdoor onsens (thermal springs) or ice fishing in Hokkaido. A little research goes a long way toward ensuring that your off-season adventure is the best it can be.

With some planning and the right mindset, you can craft the perfect off-season trip, enjoying cheaper flights and shorter lines. Happy adventuring – and remember to dress warmly!


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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a travel host and writer with a popular travel show, The Design Tourist, and a companion lifestyle blog. As a widely published travel journalist and content creator, Karen is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association. She also serves as the Design and Travel editor of the national lifestyle magazine, LaPalme. Karen believes that every destination has a story to tell through its local art, architecture, culture, and craft. This immersive creative exploration begins with authentic accommodations where the narrative of place unfolds through art, accessories, accouterments, furnishings, fixtures, and food.