Budget friendly off season travel

Peak travel season is coming to an end, so this is the perfect time to consider taking the road less traveled.  For the most part, travel prices are dictated by climate.  Hearty travelers who are willing to overlook less-than-perfect weather can avoid the crowds and save a lot of money on a great trip.

Following are some places and times to look for travel bargains.

East coast- Cities like Fort Lauderdale and Miami are very popular with winter travelers trying to get a break from frigid temperatures back home.  Families with children out of school fill up the beaches during the summer months.  Thankfully, prices and crowds drop off in the fall months so you can enjoy the still beautiful temperatures on a budget. One thing to keep in mind: fall is hurricane season, so watch the weather carefully. Spring is still considered the “off season” in Florida, with the exception of Spring Break when college students flock to the beaches.

Midwest- Chicago has a lot of museums, tons of great shopping, and world-class restaurants—all indoors and heated. That will come in handy when you visit this exciting, but chilly city in the budget-friendly winter months. You can also bundle up and enjoy the outdoors by ice skating at Millennium Park or even participating in a Polar Plunge.

Mountain- Places like Aspen, Vail, and Breckenridge rely on the winter months for tourism dollars. If you’re not a skier or boarder, why pay a premium to spend time in the Rocky Mountains? Instead, consider visiting Colorado in the spring or fall when you can enjoy a lot of beautiful country for a great price. In fact, the rates at many hotels drop as much as 50 percent; many restaurants and spas also offer great discounts.

Southwest- Fly the opposite direction of the snowbirds to get the best deal on travel to Arizona. It’s much cheaper to visit Phoenix or Tucson when the temperatures are soaring (June, July, and August), but there are still many fun things to see and do in the desert. Try keeping cool in one of the water parks or museums. If you need a break from the heat, you could always take a side trip to Sedona or the Grand Canyon.

West coast- In the California wine country, tourism peaks during “the crush” (August to October), but visiting after the harvest can be less expensive and more relaxing. Just keep in mind that some tasting rooms are only open on weekends during the off season. If you visit after the holidays, you’ll get to see the mustard flowers bloom and enjoy a multitude of events such as the Napa Valley Mustard Festival.

You might also enjoy reading:

Cut your travel budget without sacrificing your vacation

Don’t let travel fees bust your vacation budget

Camping: A low-cost vacation alternative

How to drive down your vacation budget

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.