For many people, vacations are dictated by their children’s academic schedule, making it very hard to travel during off-peak times.

It is important to remember that a destination’s peak season may not actually be the best time to visit, but rather the time when school children are on vacation.  For example, school breaks rarely coincide with the tulips blooming in Holland.

For those individuals who have more flexible schedules, there are some distinct advantages to traveling during the “off season”.  For most destinations, you can often get very good deals on airfare and hotels.  Less crowded restaurants, stores, and tourist offices make for a smoother travel experience.  Availability and prices for tours and tour guides are more favorable as well.

For my family, the biggest benefit of off-peak travel is a lack of other tourists.  Yes, we may need to pack extra layers of clothes in our suitcases or bring a pair of gloves, but we are very happy not to have to elbow our way to view the Mona Lisa or get stuck behind several bus loads at the Colosseum in Rome.  You may even get exceptionally lucky and have a tourist site all to yourselves!

We visited Paris and Provence in March a few years ago.  On a crisp morning, we had the ancient Roman sites of Arles almost to ourselves.  I was able to take plenty of people-free pictures.  Buying tickets for the Louvre was a painless prompt experience and it was even warm enough for an al fresco baguette sandwich lunch in the Tuileries Gardens.

So go ahead, have that second fortifying morning cup of coffee, grab your coat and explore!

img_1892 town near Gordes