I sit here attempting to plan the perfect summer getaway for my fifteenth wedding anniversary, a memorable escape that will bring back the romance that was lost about…14.5 years ago. But, instead of a multitude of choices I am faced with overfilled hotel rooms, restaurants booked out for a month and sold-out attractions.
Maybe there is some availability at Motel 6 in Bakersfield with two twin beds? I hear they have a fantastic putt putt golf course there. Romantic.
This has made me contemplate the reasons why I enjoy traveling during the off-season. And the reason why I didn’t get married in February.
1. Restaurant Availability
Being that I am a restaurateur, when I travel I like to eat well or at least learn something about the areas culture. There is never a visit to a restaurant that has a drive-thru window and features Dorito Tacos on my vacations. It is important for me to see what is trendy or traditional in other parts of the world with the possibility of incorporating it into my own eatery. Basically, I steal ideas. So?
Manzanita Restaurant at the Ritz Carlton in Lake Tahoe just before snow season, in October, was empty which led to us being indulged with free lobster gnocchi. In March, in Florence I made same day reservations at the trendy il Santo Bevitore, otherwise it would have most likely been a week wait. Whereas, right now, in June, the Michelin 3-Star French Laundry in Yountville is beyond a whopping 8 week wait. I checked. That’s okay, I just saved myself 600 bucks on dinner.
I typically partner with several different companies when I travel; hotels, tourism boards, attractions, etc. Partnering ain’t so easy peasy when it is prime season for them. Approaching Mexican resorts for stays in July have led to a lot of “we would love to work with you in the future”. At least it isn’t a full blown out “No”. It was much easier partnering with London’s Royal Garden Hotel in April and Seattle’s Underground Tour in February.
3. Crowded Sidewalks
Las Vegas in June. Need I say more? Okay, I will. Trying to walk anywhere in Las Vegas is already a feat, but when hundreds of other tourists are trying to get somewhere too, and going the in the opposite direction, I’d rather just sit by the pool. Besides I don’t like strangers touching me. I have issues.
Venice in March was dreamily vacant. A shop owner even commented how in June you can barely squeeze through the maze of streets, but we shared the walkways with very few other tourists earlier in the year.
4. Attraction Lines
Using the Fast Trak to take a spin on the London Eye in April led to a mere 10 minute wait, though the regular line was over an hour. A friend had told me that in the summer there was a two day wait for the normal queue. Bring a book. Or, at least, book the Fast Trak.
5. Overpriced Hotels
Of course, it is expected to pay premium prices for hotels in the prime tourist season, but it doesn’t make it any easier for me to swallow. Solage Resort in Calistoga, one that I am considering for my anniversary in July, is $550 per night. If I opted to stay over in December it drops down to $350.
6. Children and College Kids on Summer Break
I have nothing against children. Or college for that matter. But, I do have something against being on a relaxing vacation and being invaded by both.
Please do not email me. I love your children, almost as much as you. Just not when they are peeing or doing cannonballs in the pool.
7. Competitive Airline Rates
I paid $847 for a roundtrip ticket from San Francisco to London in early April. If I were to have gone one week later the cost would have been $1225. Ouch! When I book I try to make it a point to schedule for the last week of off-season, to maximize the weather possibilities.
What other benefits or disadvantages is there to traveling off-season?