Affordable off-season destinations for travelers on a budget

Travel to the Maldives in low season and book a deal (Jumeirah Maldives Olhahali Island)

Spain, Greece, Italy. Instead of following everyone else to the same old seasonal vacation favorites this summer, consider a trip to an off-season gem further afield.

You may experience less-than-perfect weather or adjusted flight schedules, or you may not – and in turn, you’ll get relatively quiet environments and fares that are usually well below those charged during peak season.

If you needed an excuse to finally book that unique trip to the Indian Ocean, this is it…

The Maldives

    (Jumeirah Maldives Olhahali Island)    (Jumeirah Maldives Olhahali Island)

(Jumeirah Maldives Olhahali Island)

May to November is technically the wet season in this idyllic, rugged Indian Ocean – but don’t let that put you off. The showers are usually short and heavy, the temperatures are still blissfully warm, and it is not unknown that entire weeks pass during this period without a drop of rain falling on the heavenly sands. Unlike some other tropical destinations, you don’t have to worry about pesky mosquitoes (most resorts on private islands spray for them) and the service is still delivered to an impeccable quality, even if some hotels sometimes close for seasonal maintenance. In any case, you can be pampered even more because there are fewer guests competing for the staff’s attention.

Offseason win: Visit now and your bank balance will thank you, as the savings on a couples holiday often amount to thousands of pounds per person. For example, from May to July, seven nights in a water villa with pool on Jumeirah Maldives Olhahali island costs from £4,555 per person on a half-board basis, including flights and transfers – that’s a discount of up to £7,455 per couple in peak months.

Bangkok, Thailand

    (Alejandro Cartagena / Unsplash)    (Alejandro Cartagena / Unsplash)

(Alejandro Cartagena / Unsplash)

Travelers may hesitate to visit the Thai capital during the wet season from May to October. But in reality, apart from the particularly humid September months, the showers usually pass quickly, giving you plenty of sun-warmed opportunity to enjoy the city’s sights. Admire the gilded exterior of the Grand Palace or browse the thousands of stalls at the Chatuchak Weekend Market. You’ll be dealing with intense heat, but on the other hand, thanks to heavily reduced hotel rates – sometimes by around 50% – you can afford to check in somewhere with plenty of space and hopefully decent air conditioning.

Offseason win: The luxurious five-star Peninsula in Bangkok, which comes with bellboys in white suits, a three-tiered outdoor pool and skyscrapers overlooking the city, has rooms that cost a relatively economical £296 per night during the summer months. That’s around £100 less than what you’ll pay between November and January.

Western Cape, South Africa

    (Nenad Gataric / Unsplash)    (Nenad Gataric / Unsplash)

(Nenad Gataric / Unsplash)

During the South African winter – from May to August – many visitors concentrate on the safari reserves, as the dry and cool temperatures provide ideal conditions for game viewing. But for much of the rest of the country it is low season. In the vibrant cultural capital of Cape Town, known for its beaches, hotel prices fall into the mid-teens; but the weather is still pleasant for hiking Table Mountain, taking advantage of the thriving food scene and visiting Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.

It’s also a quieter time for a road trip along the epic Garden Route, a scenic 120-mile coastal drive past small towns, nature reserves and whale-watching hotspots. As for the famous wine regions of the Western Cape, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek? The cellar doors are open for business and provide a much quieter backdrop for tastings than during the busy Southern Hemisphere summer.

Offseason win: The opulent Babylonstoren hotel in the Cape Winelands, with its white-painted buildings, farm-to-table cuisine, luxury spa and on-site winery, typically has a two- or three-night minimum stay during the peak season months – meaning you pay probably over £2,000 for your visit. But this July you can book just one wonderful night online for a much more wallet-friendly £500.

Tokyo, Japan

    (Within Japan)    (Within Japan)

(Within Japan)

Compared to the oversubscribed cherry blossom season in spring and the busy leaf-peeping period in autumn, Tokyo experiences a relative decline in visitor numbers in June and July. The climate can be hot, humid and a little wet, but who cares if you’re actually in the city for culture? Shibuya’s world-class department stores – like the high-fashion Parco and the classic Isetan – are all refreshingly airy, as are the major museums (try the avant-garde Yayoi Kusama and the Kengo Kuma-designed Nezu). Meanwhile, with fewer other tourists to compete with, you can more easily book in-demand experiences like the teamLab Borderless immersive digital gallery or a traditional tea ceremony.

Offseason win: During the cherry blossom season in March and April, a 13-night small group Japan Unmasked tour with InsideJapan Tours costs £3,650 per person. But if you take the exact same tour in June and July, you’ll pay just £3,310 per person – a saving of almost 10%.


    (Tom Jur / Unsplash)    (Tom Jur / Unsplash)

(Tom Jur / Unsplash)

June 1 through November 30 is official hurricane season in the Caribbean, but that doesn’t mean you should necessarily expect a humid break. A few islands, including Barbados, are outside the usual route for passing storms – so while you may get short and sharp showers, you’re less likely to experience prolonged or ultra-extreme bad weather. Sit back and enjoy the soft blonde sands of the west coast, visit the famous Mount Gay rum distillery and make reservations at legendary restaurants like The Cliff; all without the crowds that descend during the oversubscribed winter months.

Offseason win: Travel with British Airways Holidays in early July and you’ll pay around £1,350 per person for an all-inclusive week at Barbados Beach Club on the south coast, including flights. But if you want to visit in mid-December, you’ll have to shell out more than £1,640 per person instead.

Marrakesh, Morocco

    (Paul Macallan / Unsplash)    (Paul Macallan / Unsplash)

(Paul Macallan / Unsplash)

Spring and autumn are often touted as the best times to visit this North African country, but in reality it comes down to exactly where and what you have on your travel agenda. It’s true that temperatures in sun-drenched Marrakech can reach an average of 36 degrees Celsius in the balmy months of July and August – but that can still be quite pleasant if your main job involves checking into a luxury resort and lounging by the pool . . Meanwhile, in the rugged Atlas Mountains, temperatures usually hover around 30 degrees Celsius in July and August, so you can still make the most of the excellent hiking trails on cooler early mornings. The coast of Essaouira also has very friendly temperatures in summer, but keep in mind that it contradicts the national trend: thanks to the local beach, August is considered high season here. If you want coast, try cheaper Casablanca, where 25 degrees is about standard.

Offseason win: Marrakech’s fanciest hotel, The Royal Mansour, charges around £1,030 per night for its spectacular riad-style villa rooms during July and August. But in October the lead-in rate is usually double.

New Zealand

    (Ardiss Hutaff / Unsplash)    (Ardiss Hutaff / Unsplash)

(Ardiss Hutaff / Unsplash)

Do you dream of a trip Down Under? If you don’t mind packing a jacket, the quieter winter months in the Southern Hemisphere are the best time to visit New Zealand. Be prepared to embrace temperatures of around 15 degrees Celsius in Auckland and 8 degrees Celsius in Queenstown, and you’ll get plummeting prices, fewer tourists and, in some areas, epic snow-covered scenery. The South Island can feel quite wintry with its dramatic mountain ranges in white – and is a skiing and snowboarding wonderland if that’s your thing. Meanwhile, the North Island’s milder climates provide the perfect setting for trekking, winery tours and visits to steaming hot springs.

Offseason win: Haka Tours runs a New Zealand Winter Wonders group tour in low season visiting the highlights of both the North and South Islands over 20 days, from £3,772 per person in July, including accommodation, some meals and plenty of sightseeing, but excluding international flights. Meanwhile, the same itinerary in busier September will instead cost £4,438 per person.

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