So, you’re excited to start traveling more during retirement: good for you! Travel will open your eyes to new places and experiences and offer the type of adventure that no other activity can. Once you officially retire, you might be lucky enough to have the flexibility to travel any time of year. For budget-friendly, less crowded travel experiences, choose the off season!

When planning your next trip, here are a few tips to take full advantage of the benefits that off-season travel brings:

Consider the shoulder season. There’s peak season, shoulder season, and off season. Depending on your destination, shoulder season could be perfectly in the middle, offering good weather and plenty of availability for lodging, restaurants, and sights. Think skiing in April or Hawaii in September. Shoulder season can be a gamble, but that gamble might pay off in the form of lower prices and fewer people traveling at the same time as you.

Think about activities. It goes without saying, but if you want to take surfing lessons or bask in the sun from the deck of a catamaran, make sure you’re not visiting the beach during hurricane season when the chance for dangerous waters is higher. If you’ve always wanted to hike the Alps, plan your trip during a period when the weather is likely to cooperate.

Adjust your plans. In many destinations, the weather is the key factor that determines the volume of tourists. If you’re determined to avoid swarms of people and travel cheaply, be open-minded to the type of activities you do. Sure, strolling through Paris in summer is lovely for lots of reasons, but winter offers a variety of other opportunities. You could head to the city’s many museums and cathedrals, and take in the sparkle of the city in the snow.

Plan ahead. Wherever you go, there are sights to see, but adjusting the time of your visit means you’re taking a risk. Don’t assume that everything you’re interested in visiting is open year-round. When considering traveling somewhere during a specific time of year, research the attractions on your “must-see” list to ensure they’re open.

Don’t sacrifice the quality of your trip. Remember that there is typically a reason (or several) that a place is popular during certain months. It could be the weather or because the area caters to the nearby school calendar, but you must do your homework so you’re well-informed. If a place is quiet during a particular time of year, will you miss out on anything you had your heart set on or suffer through less-than-ideal weather?

Off-season travel is a great way to see the world while saving yourself money and avoiding the crowds. Yes, there are drawbacks to visiting a destination during the months it is less popular, but there are many benefits too. The key is to do your research in advance on what amenities and sights will and won’t be available during your planned trip, and to be a bit flexible. As with any travel, have fun with it! No matter when you go, make it your mission to discover what is special about a place during that time. You’ll gain a new appreciation for the destination that you wouldn’t otherwise. Happy travels

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