This road is a dream.
While I’m by no means an expert on what makes a road a great driver’s road, I imagine this is what one has to be like.
My motorbike is under powered, and is prone to breaking down, but I push it for everything it’s got.
Every corner I try to lean in a little further.
During the high season driving the Mae Hong Son Loop like this would be impossible.
There’s too much traffic.
In the off season, there is a lot less congestion.
I do have to watch for the occasional truck, so I wait for a length of road that doesn’t include any blind spots before I peg the throttle.
I keep thinking to myself, deciding to travel in off season was the best decision I ever made.
What is Off Season?
Off season is characterized as the seasonal period in which must travelers choose not to visit a destination.
There is one good reason to avoid off season.
But there are countless reasons why off season is the best time to visit a destination.
I get travelers on short trips don’t want to risk four days of rain in a row, but for those of us travelling a little slower, off season really is the best season.
More than anything, I save a lot of money travelling in the off season.
Flights usually take a dive to travel destinations in off season, and hotels compete fiercely for your business.
Rooming and transportation often goes from 25% to 50% cheaper in off season.
It’s often easier to haggle in the off season.
Most people are doing everything they can to keep cash flowing in for their business during this time of year, and this means they are much more likely to negotiate their prices to win your business.
In Vietnam I needed a place to stay after missing the last ferry of the day.
I walked into the first hotel I saw and at first they told me $85 for a night.
I couldn’t help but laugh because I was averaging $25 a day for room + food+ entertainment.
I waved my hand to say no thanks, but the concierge stopped me at the door.
She called the owner and negotiated the price down to something I was willing to pay.
After a few rounds, I ended up getting a four star hotel room for $18!
That’s 78% discounted!
Reservations Not NECESSARY
In high season, not only do prices go up, but just finding places to stay can be a challenge.
In the off season, it’s very rare to find a hotel or destination fully booked.
Unless they are a highly sought after experience, you’d have no problem walking up to a hotel the day you want to stay there and getting a room.
The only exception to this I ever experienced was with trains.
For some reasons trains book up weeks in advance.
In Laos, I walked in to a restaurant that claimed they needed reservations.
I was suspicious this was just a policy and not actually necessary.
Most of the tables inside were empty.
I asked if I could make a reservation for tonight and the host asked when I would like to be seated.
“How about in ten minutes?”
The host agreed and put my name on the reservations list.
I asked if I could sit at a table while I waited to which he agreed.
A few minutes later a waiter came over and took my order.
More attention for guests
In high season, the crowds can make it difficult to find someone to help you, but in the off season, there is more than enough help to go around.
This is both a blessing and a curse.
You’ll be more of a target for street hustlers, but when you’re really in a bind, it will be much easier to find a helping hand.
It’s less crowded
No body likes lines.
Crowded bars can be fun for a night, but waiting 20 minutes for a beer every time gets old fast.
Crowds are rarely a problem in the off season which means you get a little more elbow room to spread out at the beach or in the cafe.
Concierge’s and small business owners will have more time for you.
I find out about a lot of amazing places to visit after hanging out with the front desk staff for a bit.
In busier times, they don’t have time to hang out, but when things are slow they appreciate the company and are full of local suggestions.
The Weather’s Not that bad
Let’s address the elephant in the room.
The weather is the number one concern for most people in the off season, but in my experience the weather is not that bad.
Rainy season usually means you’ll get a little rain each day, but the rest of your day is sunny and warm.
I have come across the occasional four to five day rain storm, but it’s not like the rain starts at the beginning of the season and doesn’t let up until the end.
There are plenty of things to do inside at resorts and hotels.
Best of all, rain tends to scare people away from the beach.
Surfing in the rain often means you’ll have the whole area to yourself.
Rain aside, off season means less extreme temperatures for most places.
In Asia, high season means very hot days while off season rain brings the temperatures down to a very comfortable range.
Ski resorts have their high season in the coldest parts of the year.
In the summer these resorts still have lots to offer and the weather is much preferable for warm climate aficionados.
Bad Weather is good for photography
Most landscape photographers get excited about bad weather.
Bad weather brings interesting lighting conditions.
You get cool weather patterns, and the light is flatter.
Flat light seems like it’s boring, but most photographers seek it out to get the most dynamic range in their photos.
You’re selfies will never look so good.
The chillest travelers can be found in off season
There’s no doubt about it, traveling in off season can be the mark of an experienced traveler.
Pro travelers no the secrets about off season.
If you want to meet some of the most interesting people on the planet, hunt down a hostel with good vibes in the off season.
A place like Circus Hostel in Pai will be filled with experienced travelers.
You’ll get to hear all about their adventures and they’ll have plenty of secret destinations to let you in on.