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Fewer Crowds, Fewer Dollars – Why Off Season Travel is Great for Families!

Off Season Travel

You planned the ultimate “staycation” and explored all the local wonders you could find this summer. And who can blame you? Travelling during high season can be expensive and crowded if you’re going to a popular destination.

So while my friends are off on their summer holidays, I bask in the warm sunshine in my backyard and plan a fall holiday, taking full advantage of the opportunity for off-season travel. When the air grows crisp, and the days are noticeably becoming shorter, one is faced with the inevitability that colder seasons are around the corner. But if you can escape in September or October, you can buy yourself a few extra precious weeks of summer.


If your kids are in school full-time, this option may not work for you. However, those with preschool-aged children will find this prime travel time and the perfect opportunity for a fun, yet somewhat calm getaway. Here are some off-season travel trips to get you dreaming of an autumn vacation!

Photo Courtesy Waterway Houseboats

Photo Courtesy Waterway Houseboats

Houseboating

While it may be out-of-range for the cost for many, the price of a houseboat vacation may go down by a whopping 40 per cent on average if you book once the school year begins. There are plenty of options in British Columbia and Ontario to consider.

The significant drop in price is not the only benefit. In September, lake water is still reasonably warm but draws less than half the crowd you would face if you went during the prime time of July & August. And while the temperatures and sun may not be quite as hot as you would get in the earlier months, the slightly cooler air makes the hot tubs more enjoyable (which I didn’t even realise was possible) and hanging around a beach campfire even better.

Visitors at Lomond Campground on Bonne Bay at night. / Des visiteurs au terrain de camping Lomond sur Bonne Bay au crépuscule.

Visitors at Lomond Campground on Bonne Bay at night. Photo Parks Canada

Camping

Campsites are a hot commodity through the summer. If you don’t book several weeks or even months in advance, you’re often out of luck. But come September? You have your pick of both grounds and sites. Booking is a simpler process, and since the campgrounds aren’t typically overflowing, you won’t be sleeping huddled with neighbours and can get some space. Another bonus for the unprepared? First come-First serve spots are plentiful!

A beautiful autumn road. Photo credit Thomas Lefebvre via www.unsplash.com

Photo credit Thomas Lefebvre via www.unsplash.com

Road Trip

If you live in a particularly snowy, unpredictable climate, you may want to squeeze one of these in before winter settles in. While road trips are generally more cost-effective for families than booking airfare, travelling highways within Canada and the United States often comes with heavy congestion, construction and border crossing delays, especially on a summer long weekend.

Well load up those tablets or portable DVD players and hit the open road in fall, because the traffic is significantly lighter at this time of year and fuel prices inevitably drop once the summer driving season is over. And if you happen to like being more spontaneous than scheduled, the likelihood of finding a hotel with a vacancy to take a break for the night on a whim is much higher. I recently had a friend periodically update her Facebook feed on a road trip to Vancouver, with updates as she stopped to look for a place to rest for the night. The search began before midnight, and by 5 a.m., they still had not found a place to sleep. She jokingly said she felt like Mary and Joseph, with no place at any inn – even the cheapest and seediest around.

Come September, the “no” part of the vacancy sign tends to stay unlit for the most part, meaning you don’t have to hit the highways all night long.

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Prices for airfare to hot spots like Mexico and the Caribbean and Europe come down in the fall, as do hotel prices. Paris may be beautiful in the spring but its significantly cheaper in the autumn!

With such great options available in September and October, it’s almost not as sad when the final week in August rolls around. Almost. Except for that inevitable snow part.



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The Government of Canada has an official global travel advisory in effect due to COVID-19:
Avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice. See www.travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories for more details.