The Off-Season Reason

The off season is the reason.

Copenhagen in December. Elba in July, and, pictured here, the Sound View Inn on the North Fork of Long Island in November.

Sort of by coincidence and happenstance, my wife and I have taken to traveling to places during the off seasons and shoulder seasons, and I’ve become a true convert to this approach. Not just because of the cheaper rates on flights and hotels, and the smaller crowds, though these certainly are factors.

There’s something else at play too. 


Maybe it’s because I grew up in a town that swells with tourists in the summer that I have a certain appreciation for the quieter months when the crowds lull a bit. It’s not that these off-season months offer a more genuine experience, or are more exciting than peak seasons of travel (they definitely are not), it’s that they offer a different more subtle experience.

In these quieter months it’s easier to find the mundane. I know that's not usually a word we think of when we travel. But for me, it means finding the local’s bar and bellying up to it, exploring an empty beach, and stumbling across a winter bonfire at a farmer’s market in Denmark. These mundane moments don't end up in travel magazines, for good reason, but for me, they’re some of the best reasons to travel. 

Finding someone else’s version of mundane reveals how that person actually lives, and what they see every day. These might be moments or places so unremarkable that a local would never think to mention them, but when you find them on your own, you feel like you found travel gold. It turns out that the most mundane moments, whether it's an empty beach in Greenport, or a fish market in Sicily, can actually be the most memorable part of a trip.