High Season vs Low Season Travel

Should you travel during high season or low season

Which should you choose?

Traveling at any time is a good idea.  The season in which you travel though is something that you might want to spend some time thinking about before leaving.  It depends primarily on your goals and budget, but also to a lesser degree, on the experience you will have while traveling. Read on, for a few words to help with your thought process.

What is peak season (high) and low season?

Peak season, or high season, is considered to be the time of year when a particular place experiences the most visitors.  Typically, the peak season of a particular place depends on what type of place it is.  For example, peak season at the beach and peak season in the mountains is not the same.  Therefore, peak season usually follows weather patterns (i.e. winter (cold) and summer (hot)).

Low season, or off-season is the time of year when the fewest people visit.  It is basically the opposite of peak season.

As I mentioned, high season will depend on the place that you want to visit.  Keep that in mind whenever you are making your decision.  You wouldn’t plan to go skiing in the summer would you?

High Season: The good, the bad, and the ugly

High season is generally high season for a reason.  The weather is better, and the seasons is in.  Traveling during high season, however, will come with a few downfalls.  Majorly, the prices tend to be a bit higher during the tourist season.  Additionally, you will deal with larger crowds, and have a more ‘tourist like’ experience.

  • The good:   I enjoy meeting people all the time.  I am typically energized by new people.  Therefore, I often like to travel during peak season because there are more people. During peak season, you will always have something to do. This could be a negative to some people.
  • The bad: Prices tend to be higher during the high season.  This is because people know you have fewer options, thus, your bargaining power is greatly reduced. If you won’t take something at a certain price, then someone else will.
  • The ugly: If you travel during peak-season, then you can factor in a lot of wait time for long lines and crowds of people.  It is inevitable, and it is harder to get a ‘local feel’.

Low Season: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Low season, also known as the off-season, is the main alternative to peak season travel.  In the low season there will inevitably be fewer people, prices tend to be lower, and your experience will be a more realistic view of the local people and culture.  Also, if you choose to travel during low season, there could be a chance that you will deal with weather issues be it cold, snow, or something else.

  • The good: Low season inevitably leads to better prices and better deals in general.  People are more eager to make a sale because they know that they will be making less of them.  Therefore, it may be something to consider if you are on a budget.  You will also have a lot more opportunity to get a feel for what everyday life is like.
  • The bad: If you like to socialize or want to go out and do activities, then there may be fewer people around.  Especially if a city has a strong dependency on visitors.  This wouldn’t be a problem in larger cities though.
  • The ugly: You could encounter some bad weather.  Peak season is peak season for a reason.  It is typically the ‘best time’ to visit a place.

Mid-Season Travel: The good, the bad, the ugly

Mid-season is not really a season but it is the intermediary seasons.  Effectively, one could get the best of both worlds.

  • The good: Mid-season travel might be a good opportunity for you to get the best of both seasons by visiting a place during the middle season.  You could still get the weather and there will be some people around.  It just won’t be super-packed or lifeless.
  • The bad: Because you aren’t exactly visiting during peak season, less things may be open.  People may treat it like it is middle season.
  • The ugly: I am not sure if there really is an ‘ugly’ to mid-season travel.  If there were, I’d say that it would be an extension of ‘the bad’.


Personal Analysis

As I mentioned before, whether you choose either bears a lot on what you expect from a trip, and of course your time constraints as well.  In my experience, I think it depends where you are going.  If you wanted to learn a language, I would visit a place in low season.  If I wanted to have a good time, I would go during high season.  If I didn’t like crowds, then I’d stick to either mid-season or low season.  There are some places that I have been to during low season and wished it was busier, and other places that I went to in high season and wished that there were fewer people.  Beachy or coastal places are usually more fun in high season.  The energy levels are higher and people are in better moods.  Personally, I like activity and interacting with lots of people.  Therefore, for many destinations I prefer the busy season.

My recommendation to you:

  1. Brainstorm – Ask yourself: What are my time constraints? What is my goal of this trip? What am I looking to gain? What is my budget?
  2. Execute – After you have picked your brain.  Make a decision based off of your answers and go with it.
  3. Have fun with whatever you choose – Perhaps your trip is not exactly what you had hoped for or you could only travel during a certain time.  Make the most of it and be glad that you get the opportunity, not everyone does.

*Tip: If you choose the high season and look to use Couchsurfing, or similar methods, be aware that some hosts can receive anywhere from 5-20 daily requests during busy seasons.  If you wish to secure a couch, you need to start early.  The same tip applies to securing a bed at a hostel or hotel.  They can fill up quick.


What do you think?

What are your experiences with high season low season travel? Which is your favorite season to travel?


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One comment

  1. Visiting destinations outside of high season means you’re more likely to see a side of that location that many travelers don’t ever get to see. Whether it’s experiencing a tropical storm in Costa Rica in July, or a foggy winter morning in Yellowstone National Park, you are bound to see something most tourists never will.
    Bal Krishna Poudel recently posted…How do you travel around the world if you’re not rich?My Profile

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