Traveling in low season may sound pretty dreadful due to the possible rumblings of hurricanes in the Caribbean. Also, too many rainy days. But although low season is mostly associated with being the worst time to travel, there are some excellent perks that you might want to consider.
So when exactly IS low season in the Caribbean? Well, the dates may vary depending on the destination. However, mid-April to early/mid December is the general rule of thumb.
Tips: Weather is one of the main reasons that we give two thumbs down at the thought of traveling in low season. Check out the destination’s visitor’s bureau website for typical conditions and temps beforehand. And, it’s a good idea to book an extra hotel night or two in case the weather is unpredictable.
Here are some of the perks of traveling in low season and please share in the comments any others that I might have missed!
Cheaper Hotel Prices
100% guaranteed! So, if you’ve had an eye on your dream destination for a while, it’s highly likely that you’ll find some very affordable options. Behind the scenes, the hotel’s revenue and sales managers will have already brainstormed about hotel packages and promotions. Otherwise, low season will take its toll on the property. Offering discounts and promotions benefit both the hotel and its guests. Plus, being at a hotel with low occupancy means the service is even more enhanced. (The staff to guest ratio is great, basically!)
More for Your Money
Another perk of traveling in low season is that you’ll have much better chances of enjoying the “hot spots” without the crowds. Activities, restaurants, landmarks, and other attractions won’t be as difficult to get into without long lines or wait times. And, typically, reserving in advance isn’t necessary. The money you’ve put towards your vacation will allow you to experience more than just one or two days off-site.
Finding decently priced airfare is almost impossible during high season. So, if you’re on a budget, low season dates always have better prices. Flights are considerably cheaper because there are empty seats to fill, especially if you do a price comparison between high and low season dates.
My go-to is Kayak because it’s a one-stop shop for multiple airlines. And, they’ll give you a concrete idea if the rates will increase or decrease within the next 7-30 days.
No Planning Required
Not like during high season, anyway! The most popular restaurants have to be reserved around 6 months to a year in advance. Renting a car might be hard. And, tours and activities need hefty security deposits. Traveling in low season lets you have more flexibility and requires less planning.
(Side note: Accommodations book up incredibly quickly in high season, and, believe it when you hear the words “sold out”. The reservations consultant that you’re speaking to isn’t trying to hoard rooms. Hotels need to sell rooms to reach a high occupancy.)
Good Times with The Locals
I think an important part of traveling is getting familiar with local culture, traditions, cuisine, etc. And, having an authentic experience includes mingling with the locals, most importantly. When the dive bars, hidden gems, and secret spots are filled with just a bit too many tourists, the locals tend to hang back sometimes.
Not to say that you can’t or won’t have chances to hang with locals during high season. I’m simply saying that chances are higher to have one on ones and toasts over a potent rum cocktail when it’s a little “quieter”.
FYI before traveling in low season
While there are several perks, it’s necessary to know the reality of what you might be facing. But, if you do a little research on your destination, (or, better yet, just call the hotel and speak to a staff member), you’ll get the info you need to make the right travel decisions.
Road Less Traveled
Most all of the Caribbean islands are very small and getting there typically requires an inter-island flight or boat trip, for example. In low season, there can be limited availability, days and hours for these transfer services. So, the first thing you need to do is make sure you can get where you’re going!
Hours of Operation
Islands don’t shut down entirely in low season, although keep in mind that a lot of restaurants and activities have limited hours. Some places might be closed for several weeks or a couple of months. Of course, this is understandable because no one wants to lose money, right? Keep in mind to ask the hotel staff about limited hours or closures around the island, if any.
Low season is an ideal time for hotels, villas, and restaurants to renovate, repair, refurbish and upgrade. This could mean there’s some light construction taking place, and you should find that out before you go. If you don’t mind a little noise, depending on what’s taking place at the hotel, it might not be a huge deal. Just get the details first.
As I mentioned before, call the hotel first and look up the visitor’s bureau to find out about hurricane info. (Tip: Don’t call the off-site reservations center. Speak to someone at the hotel, or email them as an alternative.) Ask the reservations staff everything about their hurricane policy. Do they offer refunds? Will they offer to reschedule your trip at the same price? This is probably the most important part of planning your trip, second to finding out if you can actually get to the destination.
If you’re looking for a hurricane-free zone, read our blog here about the spirit of Aruba and why it’s “one happy island.”
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