Travel: How to plan the perfect off-peak holiday

Elafonisi Beach Crete

Summer is over in the Northern Hemisphere, so too is peak holiday season. Due to school holidays and the sunniest weather, June–August is by far the busiest time of year for airlines and travel agents; this usually means that the prices are a little higher and the resorts a lot busier. This is why many savvy travellers like to wait until after the summer to book their perfect getaways, as waiting until October or November onwards will save lots of money and avoid the stressful crowds. This guide will help you make the most of your off-season holiday, whatever your budget and wherever you want to go!

November is the Cheapest Month

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November has absolutely no school holidays in it and a lot of people are saving their pennies before Christmas, so it is by far the slowest month in the travel industry. As such, the deals are incredible. If you’re looking for maximum savings, hold off for a November holiday. Start looking at holidays now to get an idea of prices and you’ll see for yourself how much cheaper trips are in November.

And if you’re worried about it being too cool, look for deals to places like Malta, Southern Greece, and Egypt, as you can expect temperatures of around 22°C and upwards – so it’s still perfect sun-lounging weather. You can also opt for an Indian summer in India as the monsoon season will be over and it will be very warm. Mexico is also a great place to visit in November as its temperature averages at 25°C! And as Mexico is so far away and often too expensive for European holidaymakers, taking advantage of November’s lower rates may be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for!

It’s also worth remembering that as the northern and southern hemispheres have seasons at different times, winter in the north is summer in the south. So, you can take advantage of the cheaper rates in November and still enjoy your fill of summer weather.

It may even be possible to find a cheaper skiing holiday in mid-to-late November – if you’re willing to travel far enough. The early skiing season starts in western Canada around the middle of November, so look for cheap trips to the Canadian Rockies via Vancouver. And if you’re not too bothered about the cold, November is a brilliant time to see the Northern Lights in Iceland, Scandinavia, and Alaska. It’s also ideal as it’s not so cold in November that you’re in danger of freezing!

Take Advantage of the Amazing European Christmas Markets

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Another great part of setting off on an off-peak holiday before Christmas is that you can enjoy the atmosphere, outdoor ice rinks, amazing food, and shopping at European Christmas markets. Arguably, no one does Christmas markets quite like the Germans, Austrians, and Swiss, so look for cheap holidays in late November and early December in Vienna, Innsbruck, Hamburg, and pretty much any city in central Europe. If you want a smaller, more romantic experience, go to somewhere like Estonia (which has a lovely little Christmas market that I visited last year) or Innsbruck, but if you want a big, bustling, exciting experience, then Hamburg will not disappoint.

You can also opt for beautiful river cruises through parts of The Netherlands, Germany, France, and Hungary. This way, you can see a few Christmas markets along the way, drinking in the atmosphere of some of the most Christmassy destinations in the world. Some companies even provide specific Christmas-market cruises through all of the top locations. River cruises are very much an unknown for many travellers, so you may like to look through several different providers’ cruises before you feel comfortable booking a holiday. Viking River Cruises is a good place to start, but always look around for the best deal.

Take a Last-minute Booking and Make Huge Savings

Crete Travel Guide Golden Hour at Elafonisi Beach
Crete Travel Guide Chania town

As the on-peak holiday season finishes, resorts and holiday packages try to keep profits up by coming up with ludicrously cheap deals on last-minute bookings. This strategy means they make a lot less money from you as an individual customer, but more than if no one had made a booking with them at all. These special offers are designed to compel you make the booking as soon as possible by giving you strict time limit before the offer ends.

Last-minute bookings can be stressful because we don’t’ have time booked off work yet or because they sometimes seem too good to be true. One tip is to talk to your manager/boss and tell them you’re keeping an eye out for a last-minute holiday over the next two months and if it’s okay to react to the best deal that comes up. It’s also a good idea to invite a friend round or sit down with your partner when you’re looking for last-minute deals. This way, perhaps one of you will spot something dodgy in the holiday’s fine print. It’s also fun browsing for holidays with someone else, so you can make a Saturday night of it with a takeaway and some cocktails.

Make it a reading holiday

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One of the best things about planning an off-peak holiday is that you can avoid the bigger crowds of people. This can allow you to relax by the pool without too many people running around, cannonballing into the water, shouting over to each other. It is the perfect opportunity for book lovers to read as much as possible – and taking the time to yourself to read books is often one of the main reasons many people want to go away. So why not dedicate your holiday to relaxing and reading.

First things first, you need to bring enough reading material, as you don’t want to be left without a book to read for the last two days. For this reason, it’s a great idea to invest in an e-reader, like a Kindle or a Nook. Even if you’re not convinced by e-readers, it’s worth giving a cheap or second-hand e-reader a go as they can hold thousands of books and are lighter and thinner than most short novels!

Secondly, look for resorts that have pools designated just for adults. Sometimes these pools are called tranquil pools, and they are smaller and separate from the main pool. A tranquil pool will allow you to relax and also concentrate on your book without too much distraction.

Bring a spare pair of reading glasses with you. Even if you have a dedicated pair of prescription glasses, it’s risky to bring them to the pool or the beach to read your book. Instead, bring a cheaper pair of reading glasses with the right magnification for your eyes. Online shops like Foster Grant have a huge reading glasses collection with big savings over high-street stores.

Planning an off-peak holiday is a brilliant way to save money and ensure you get the holiday you deserve, whether it’s sunning it up in Mexico, Skiing in Whistler, drinking mulled wine in Hamburg, or reading to your heart’s content by the pool in sunnier climes. So, embrace your next off-peak holiday with an open mind and get ready for your next adventure.

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