It’s the Off Season | Why You Should Consider Traveling, Even When the Beach is Cold

Good afternoon, travelers. I’m Pat Barcas, and I write for RTX Traveler magazine. So it’s January 16 as I’m writing this, and it occurred to me that most RTX destinations in the United States are deep in the off season. (Except for maybe Hawaii and our ski destinations.) The kids are in school, winter has set in, and there’s not much going on. But does that mean you should avoid traveling during the off season?

We already know there are so many deals to be had through RTX in the off season – Getaways and Xclusive Weeks to name a couple. And availability during low season is greatly improved, for obvious reasons. So aside from cheaper and more room availability, let’s talk about some other reasons you might want to give the off season a try.

Cape Cod Beaches (4)

We plan RTX Traveler issues up to a year ahead of time. Combine that time constraint with other duties that I have back at the home office, and sometimes the only time to travel that fits into my schedule is the dreaded off season. Cue dramatic music. But is it all bad? Let’s talk about what I like about traveling to vacation destinations in the off season.

It’s All Yours

As seen in the above photo, taken in Cape Cod in April, there aren’t many crowds in the off season. I’d say Cape Cod has one of the most dramatic swings in tourism seasons that I’ve seen. In April, it was only locals around, and I found it difficult to find even a gift shop that was open. This meant that it was smooth sailing on the Cape’s notoriously crowded Mid-Cape Highway. I was able to hit spots from Mashpee all the way up to Provincetown in one day, with time for dinner and the drive home. This is a feat that is unattainable in the busy summer season.

Above: Kapow! Not a cloud to be seen. Orange Beach, Alabama sunrise in November.

It’s Still Beautiful

RTX destinations are known for their natural beauty, whether it be mountains, forests, coastline or somewhere in between. (Branson!) The summer season brings sunshine, warm oceans and pools to swim in, green leaves and pleasant evenings. But travel in the winter doesn’t mean a destination is not beautiful. On the beach, the humidity is gone, making for some super crisp sunrises and awesome walks. Shells are plentiful. Mountain views open up as the leaves are gone. Furthermore, there’s something to be said about variety. If you’ve only visited in one season, you’re only seeing one side of a destination. A whole new world opens up when you visit on the flip side.

Above: What traffic? South Padre Island, Texas in February.

Convenience Aplenty

Along with being easier to get around, parking is easy, and so are dinner reservations. You don’t have to do battle to get into your favorite restaurant, and things are just less busy, which is one of the reasons to go on vacation in the first place. Hiking and biking trails are open, and natural attractions like waterfalls and popular overlooks that are mobbed in the summer might not have anyone around in the winter.

Garden City (28)

Obviously, it’s More Affordable

Gas, airfare, and car rental is cheaper in the winter. Gift shops are also liquidating last year’s stuff, especially in beach towns, so bargain hunters rejoice. Restaurants might have drink or dinner specials not available during peak season, and the same goes for attractions and tours. If you’re a golfer, now is the time to score some deals, putting the sport further within reach.

Finally, it Feels More Authentic

Remember what I said about Cape Cod in April? I only saw locals around. Destinations in the summer prepare for busy season all year. They put on their happy faces in the summer. That’s definitely not a bad thing, but the point I’m trying to make is, a place can feel more real in the off season. You can hang out with locals and maybe some snowbirds that have visited for years and really dig into the culture. Learn about new areas to explore, and cool activities that you might have glossed over in the summer. The tourists who are there in the off season really want to be there, meaning they obviously love the place. It’s a slower pace, which allows you to see and do more.

Above: Bingo at the Flora-Bama roadhouse in Orange Beach, Alabama on a sleepy Monday in November.

In my opinion, prime summer season of travel is awesome. But don’t sleep on the off season. Open your eyes and take in the experience, you might love it!

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About the Author

About the Author: Pat Barcas serves as Creative Resources Manager for RTX, based in Asheville, NC. You can find him hiking the mountains of Asheville, gardening, traveling, and hanging with his growing family. His favorite RTX exchange destinations are Rangeley, Maine, Lake Tahoe, Banff, Canada, New Smyrna Beach, Florida, Cape Cod, and Orange Beach, Alabama. .

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