Peter Greenberg is the
winning travel editor
for CBS News and host
of The Travel Detective
on public television
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MOST TRAVELERS have been conditioned to
avoid the offseason, fearing bad weather and
fewer open attractions.
In my experience, the months outside of the
peak season are often the best time to explore,
experience and enjoy a destination. You’ll find
fewer crowds; better service; better prices on
airfare, hotels and tours; and, perhaps best of all,
the opportunity to immerse yourself in a more
authentic, genuine experience with local communities. Consider the following offseason options.
I love the Caribbean in June and July. Puerto
Rico is a wonderful place to visit, and when you’re
finished seeing its main attractions, there are
some wonders offshore.
For example, to really beat the crowds, try
Puerto Rico’s Culebra Island, population only
;,;;;. There aren’t many hotels, but the rates
drop in June and July. It’s reachable via a short
flight or ferry ride.
Culebra’s sister island is Vieques. It’s home
to a natural wonder, Mosquito Bay, a bioluminescent bay that literally glows in the dark. Vieques
also is home to a number of undeveloped and
secluded beach coves, ancient Spanish forts and
the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, the largest
natural wildlife refuge in the Caribbean.
Most people head to Alaska during June, July
and August (that’s when most of the cruise ships
travel the Inside Passage). Instead, take the cruise
in May or September, when there are fewer
crowds. Or do what I do: Dress warmly and fly up
in the winter to see the aurora borealis. Be aware
that while there are anywhere from ;; to ;; hours
of daylight during Alaska’s summers, during the
winter you’ll get ;; to ;; hours of darkness. Some
places, like the small city of Barrow, don’t see
daylight for approximately ;; days. If you wish,
skip both seasons and go in the fall, when accommodations and flights are cheaper, as the summer
crowds have gone and the winter crowds haven’t
A money-saving travel approach that many
people take to visit must-see areas that are far
from their home is to fly and rent. That is, you fly
to the nearest large airport, where fares are often
the most affordable, then rent a car to see your
Ever thought about visiting Jackson Hole for
a winter ski getaway? You’re not alone. Conversely,
summer is the offseason, right? Wrong again.
More people visit Jackson Hole in summer than
in winter. The shoulder season is when smart
For Jackson Hole, smart travel is not about
skiing in the winter or river activities and hiking
during the summer. It’s about proximity to
national parks. And because Jackson Hole is less
than a two-hour drive from Yellowstone National
Park, you’ll get to experience the autumn foliage
without the crowds.
If you do head to Yellowstone, make sure to
visit in October, as the park becomes less accessible by car after the first Sunday in November. Visit
nearby Grand Teton National Park, too, as car
accessibility to the park ends on November ;.
When it comes to theme parks, defining the
offseason—which is truly the best time to go—is
easy. It’s during major sporting events: the World
Series or the Olympics or the Super Bowl. It’s also
anytime kids are in school.
Whether you’re a family of four or you’re
single, the two best times to hit the Florida and
California theme parks are during “dead” weeks.
These are the two weeks each year when you’re
practically guaranteed to avoid big crowds and long
lines: the week immediately after Thanksgiving
and the week immediately following New Year’s.
This is a good time to start planning ahead
for any trip to a theme park.
So when possible, think offseason. There are
a lot of benefits of this contrarian thinking. And
maybe it will open up options that can help you
be a year-round traveler. C
Beat the crowds
Traveling when others are staying home
Costco Travel offers packages
to destinations around the
world, including the Caribbean,
Alaska, theme parks and more.
To learn more, click “Travel”
at Costco.com or call 1-877-
The Grand Tetons in
their majestic splendor.