Traveling is the best way to experience the world. You will never truly understand and appreciate the beauty the world has to offer from sitting on your couch watching the TravelChannel. As transportation and technology gets better and faster, although not always cheaper, more and more people are applying for their passports and flying abroad. But the downer is that everyone always wants to travel at the same time – during the summer or holiday breaks from school. While not missing school is important, traveling during peak season can be a total bummer when your time is limited. Thankfully, there are ways to avoid traveling at the same times as the rest of the crowd!
Here are some tips for avoiding the crowds of pushing and shoving tourists!
The Early Bird Catches the Worm!
You’ve heard this saying a million times before, I’m sure! But truer words have never been spoken. I have recently discovered the beauty of getting up and leaving my hotel around 6am to enjoy the early morning peacefulness while traveling. This way you can watch the town wake up and see how the locals live on a daily basis. Not only that, but most tourists don’t leave their hotel until between 8-10am, giving you a few hours head start without waiting in massive long lines or getting tons of obnoxious tourists running through your pictures. Not only that, but you’ll be the first in line for whatever it is you want to see, giving you more quiet time to enjoy something without pushing and shoving past hordes of tourists all wanting to get the same picture!
Visit during the Week
I know that it is hard to travel during the week because we all have responsibilities to work or take the kids to school, but you should at some point try traveling during the week while everyone else is working. Not only are the prices of hotels cheaper, but they are also less crowded! Obviously, for longer vacations, this doesn’t really apply too much. It’s good to take advantage of a weekend while traveling for longer periods, but for short vacations, definitely try going Monday-Friday. However, plan any flights to leave on a Monday or Tuesday instead of a Friday or Saturday like everyone else. Even searching for flight tickets are cheaper on a Tuesday or Wednesday because most people don’t have the time to sit down and search for flights during the week.
Avoid Traveling during School Breaks
Everyone and their mother wants to travel during the school break because that’s when the kids have free time away from school. But I can tell you right now, it will be more expensive and more crowded because the hotels know you’re coming and will charge you the extra money. Whereas traveling while school is still in session will be much cheaper and way less crowded. And I will tell you from personal experience, it is not that difficult traveling while school is still in session. My mother took me with her to Alaska for a week while in the 5th grade and for a one month trip to Europe during the 8th grade and both times it was during the school year. You just need to plan in advance and grab all the homework assignments from the teacher and take it with you. I remember sitting down and doing homework while my parents were getting ready or during some down time. Upon returning home, I handed in a huge lump sum of homework and still maintained my grades. Homework has never stopped us from traveling. After all, traveling is the best form of education!
Take into Consideration the Holidays in the Country You Are Visiting
It might be very helpful to keep in mind the school year schedule and holidays in the country you are about to embark on. That could be a peak season for them even if it’s not for you, therefore, increasing the prices of your flights and hotels and an increase in tourists. For example, while recently looking for flights for my mother to visit me here in Germany, we realized that flights were more expensive during this time because it was a major two week school break for the kids (and me, since I’m a teacher!) While we were saddened by this, we decided maybe it would be better if she came the week before or after the school break. Yes, that would mean taking more time off for me, but if planned appropriately, we could manage it, therefore, saving a few hundred buckaroos and avoiding the crowds!
Talk to the Locals or Expat Bloggers – They Know Best!
Considering that I, myself am an expat in a foreign country I can now offer a piece of advice when the best time to travel to Germany is. I know when the school breaks are, what seasons are the best to visit and when the peak tourists seasons are best to avoid. No matter where you are about to go, you can get ahold of a local or even an expat (blogger) who can give you some advice on when the best time to come is. Unfortunately, I recently failed in this rule and will always take it into consideration now. After recently visiting Croatia the last week of July, I thought it would be a good time to visit because school wasn’t quite out yet. WRONG! That only applied to a certain number of states within Germany. Not to mention all the other surrounding countries start their summer holidays at different times. Nonetheless, our recent trip to Croatia was one of the worst, overcrowded examples of mass tourism at its finest. Turns out, after talking with some locals, May/June or September/October are still great times to visit Croatia because the weather is still nice and the crowds haven’t started yet or have died out already.
So needless to say… Avoid high season!!
Book in Advance Online!
If you know that you will be traveling somewhere that will be super crowded, for example London or Paris, you should try to book your sightseeing bucket list in advance. If you book a specific time on a specific day to go up the Eiffel Tower or to do a tour, then you can avoid waiting in long, never ending lines that can take up precious time. However, I understand that you can’t control what time you can always get somewhere when traveling somewhere new, or even predict the weather. Such was the case for us when we recently went to London and booked a ticket in advance to go up the Shard. We ended up having torrential rains and heavy fog on the day we were supposed to go up, but luckily, the Shard was willing to allow us to rebook our ticket for the next day. Thus, we completely avoided waiting in the long lines. If this isn’t something you’re down to do, try getting somewhere very early or later in the day to avoid the peak crowds.
Go Somewhere Off the Beaten Path!
While we all want to go to the most popular places and see what it is everyone else is talking about, sometimes it’s the places that are off the beaten path that provide the most enjoyment. I’ve started to discover that I am loosing my patience with the crowds of people and have since started booking trips to low key destinations or day trips. I enjoy finding new places that are largely unheard of and haven’t sold out to mass tourism yet. These places can offer a glimpse of life before tourists take over and you can enjoy the town without the hustle and bustle. Recently, I discovered the beauty of Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic was especially beautiful and didn’t quite have the numbers in tourists as places like Prague. It still felt relatively undiscovered.
Skip the Dinner Crowds
One thing I have learned about living in Europe is that the Europeans eat later than Americans generally do. I always learned that it was better to eat earlier, around 5 or 6pm if possible in order to give your food the time it needs to digest. But here, in Germany, they eat around 7-8pm. When in Barcelona, I discovered that the Spaniards eat more Tapas as an appetizer or snack in the late evening around 9-10pm. Same with Italians. I had forgotten that the Italians also eat late until we were ready to sit down for dinner around 5 or 6pm and the restaurant was closing up so that they could re-open for dinner in a few hours. Needless to say, if you eat earlier or later, you can avoid the peak dinner crowds.
Find Out When Cruises Dock
Now this one might be a bit harder, but if you plan on visiting somewhere major cruise lines go, for example recently in Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik, many major cruise lines docked about 8am. Having already been up for a few hours walking around, you could tell the cruise lines had docked at 8am because by 9am there were crowds of tourists already starting to roll in. If you can manage to do a lot of your sightseeing before the ships dock, you can avoid the crowds of people who are rushing to cram in as much as possible before they head back out to sea. This way you are avoiding the pushing and shoving.
Have you got a horrid mass tourism experience or tips to help avoid the crowds?
If you’re looking to visit Croatia this summer, I highly suggest buying the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Croatia (DK Eyewitness Travel Guides) to help you navigate through this beautiful country! These books are my travel bible that I resort to for every vacation!
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