peak season travel & how to ensure survival

theromanticIf you’ve been around here for awhile, you know one thing is true: we don’t really travel during the peak season.

Be it Amsterdam in October or Costa Rica in July, the hubs and I generally seek out better deals to help lighten our budget load.

Still, we have often left a place wondering what it would be like in full swing?

tuileries

Though I have yet to ride a bike through the tulip fields of Holland or take a sunny stroll through the Arenal rainforest, two important facts have recently come to my attention:

Summer picnics on the Champ de Mars and strolling through London’s Soho in July are European summer staples for a reason. Both cities had a much different energy this past summer than they had in my previous mid-autumn and mid-winter experiences, and though I’d still probably advise you to go in the off season for better prices, there really is just something about seeing the sun begin its descent behind the Eiffel Tower at 10 PM (after a delicious evening picnic of macarons and Côtes du Rhône, no less!).

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Now, with Christmas coming up, I realized that people are once again in the midst of planning trips for the peakest of peak seasons. Should you, dear flashpacking travelers of mine, deprive yourself of seeing Christmas markets dazzling the European countryside in just a few short months? Nay. Nayest of nays. You should… nayn’t.

Instead, try to cut back in a few other ways:

Think planes, trains, AND automobiles.

le train

If you have only have a few days, then fine: a quick flight in and a quick flight out makes the most sense. But if you have more time–and plan to travel extensively throughout one country or region–consider all of your options. A premiere seat in a luxury train car sounds fab, but maybe there’s a cheaper option that will get you there in the same amount of time… or less time, as we learned during peak travel season in Croatia. Or maybe flying really is the best option you have! Research the top resources for your destination of choice, such as GoEuro for the UK, and make an educated decision based on your budget.

You’ll save dollars and that makes sense! (See what I did there?)

 Book smart. 

hotels.com rooms

Would you believe that we stayed in these two gorgeous rooms in Paris for less than $15 each?
Ahthankyou, Hotels.com Welcome Rewards. Thank you muchly.

Yes, it’s likely that your peak season airfare will cost you more than you had hoped and yes, it might require the pledge of your first-born child. It’s likely that every hotel on your dream list will cost twice as much, and it’s likely that you’ll be late for the airport due to major traffic jams because everyone and their mother is ALSO flying on the same day as you. TIS THE SEASON.

It’s ok, though! Because you have options. The travel space, at this moment, allows you to book any type of accommodation you can imagine, and many even come with serious rewards programs. On our summer tour through Paris, thanks to Hotels.com, we were able to use two free Welcome Rewards nights to stay in two different hotels for the cost of tax. That’s it! It was like, $13 each or something! And the best part is, you earn one free night for each ten you actually DO pay for… and it doesn’t matter how much your previous ten nights cost you. They also have a Hotels.com app to make life on the go even easier, so wins all around.

Cut back on big meals out. 

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I get it. You’re in France–you want to eat wheels or brie and pots of fondue and 45 crème brûlées (and is the plural of crème brûlée “crème brûlées,” while we’re on the subject?)! But trust me when I say: if you vow to eat less, you’ll try more. The hubs and I subsisted on splitting small bites for, like, five months. This meant a give and take on who made the final meal selection, and forced us both to try foods we wouldn’t normally have picked for ourselves. Also, in the end, our pants fit better!

Increase your drinking at home.

mimosas in the morning!

The irony that we went with an orange juice brand called “Innocent” to mix with our champagne is not lost on me.

Well, you didn’t suspect I’d advise you to TOTALLY cut out wine, did you? Instead, I recommend pre-gaming. Go to the pub, throw back a few pints–but if you’re going with friends, try and drink a little bit beforehand so you’re not in as much of a hurry to keep pace with everyone around you. It’s the old tried and true college method and it WORKS. Well, unless you’re bad at it. Then it probably will make you black out because you have no willpower. But if you can be a grown up about it, then by all means, grab a few drinks from the mini-mart next to your hotel where the alcohol is undoubtedly cheaper.

Burn those calories.

Yes, public transportation in Paris and London are notoriously cheap. You know what’s cheaper? Things that are free. You know what’s free? Walking. Walk as much as you can bear it. It’s exercise in its very best form because it comes with seeing the sites, learning the city, and overhearing random snippets of conversation as the passersby pass you by! Usually in a cute accent! WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE ABOUT WALKING?

so cold in paris

Do you know how cold it was this day? It was, like, -46°C (which, out of curiosity, I just found out is -50.8°F which confirms that temperature conversions make no sense). That’s why the hubs’s smile looks so uncomfortable. It’s not a smile. His mouth is frozen that way because we walked from St. Germain to the Trocadero. (It’s also possible I picked someone really weird to take our photo because I do have that habit). It was worth it. All of it.

Traveling during peak seasons gets so much flack–and if I had my druthers… well, I’d ask you if you know what druthers are and if you’d like some of mine, because seriously WTF. But then once I found out that it roughly means “my way,” I’d tell you: yes, there is magic in seeing a new city from a new angle, in a “bad” time of year and while everyone else isn’t next to you, living and breathing and pummeling their way down the sidewalk.

But it’s also really awesome to think back to that night in July where we strolled along the Seine, wandered up into Montmartre, and absorbed all of the other people who were seeing Paris in the summer.

xo!

the romantic

– Thank you Hotels.com for introducing me to the wonders of your Welcome Rewards program. The reviews were helpful, the site was easy to navigate, and all opinions, as always, are my own.

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2 Comments

  1. September 18, 2013 / 01:17

    Avoiding peak season travel is definitely easier without children. Before we had our son we’d travel whenever. School schedules make it more difficult, but I’m determined as he gets older to not let that dictate when we travel. We’ve always traveled to Europe in May. The crowds are starting to build, but there not miserable yet. I’d like to get to England in the fall. Maybe next year.
    Lance | Trips By Lance recently posted..Breckenridge Ski Trip on a BudgetMy Profile

    • September 18, 2013 / 05:37

      ahhh yes, relying on school schedules definitely limits you to peak season travel. my parents got a letter home from my second grade teacher for taking us out of school too often to travel–despite the fact that my grades weren’t remotely affected.

      i’m counting it as another point for raising kids in europe whenever we reach that milestone.
      Lazy Travelers recently posted..jetsetters: @latitude34My Profile

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