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Tuesday, April 16
The Indiana Daily Student


OPINION: Why you should travel during the off-season


During spring break, I got to live out my traveling dreams when I went to visit my sister — who is studying abroad — in Edinburgh, Scotland. 

I traveled alone, and because my sister had classes to attend, I found myself wandering the city by myself at times. The experience of solo traveling I came to realize is an experience like no other, and I found myself in a constant state of awe as I explored all the city had to offer.  

I thought a lot about traveling and its importance. I also found myself grateful I had a chance to travel to Scotland during the off-season of tourism. As I reflected on the experience, I realized the lack of tourism made a world of difference to my experience. 

The off-season for tourism in Scotland, and many other European countries, is November to March, and the peak season usually runs from June to August. I have traveled to different European countries during the peak season, and I’ve found it’s a lot more hectic of an experience. There are usually swarms of crowds everywhere you look, flocking to the famous landmarks and museums. Restaurants typically had lines out the door and a never-ending wait list. The streets were so bustling that it was hard to take in the sites without being jostled around. Every selfie or family picture you would try to take, no matter which way you angled it, would feature mass amounts of strangers in the background trying to take the same picture. 

If there was a word to describe traveling to famous cities during peak season, it would be chaotic. 

In contrast, Scotland during the off-season felt nearly empty. There were certainly still people in the city, but it wasn’t the masses of people I had been expecting and dreading. Walking around during the day, there were few crowds, the streets were very calm and the coffee shops and restaurants weren’t packed.  

One of the most notable advantages of traveling during the off-season was the ease of travel to get to Scotland, despite it being an international trip. The lack of travellers during this time of the year made airports quieter and less stressful. The plane tickets were naturally cheaper as well, which is a huge benefit — especially as a college student, because international travel is an incredible but pricey experience. 

Another benefit was the availability of the excursions. If you’re anything like me, exploring the famous landmarks is a must when visiting a new city. It’s often hard to have a chance to see it all, especially when you need to plan for them far in advance and buy tickets in time blocks. However, thanks to the lack of other visitors during that time, I was able to book tours and buy tickets for the castles and cathedrals on the same day I visited them.  

I found it was much easier to be flexible, and often my daily plans were made at the very last minute. 

Another part I loved about getting to travel during the off-season is that my time in the city felt more authentic. Surrounded by locals and people living their normal day-to-day lives in the city, I felt it was easier to blend in and experience it through the eyes of someone who lived there. Instead of feeling like a tourist following the crowds of other tourists around the city, I could almost pretend I was a local. You get to see the city during a time where it’s not as crowded but just as beautiful and eye-opening. 

If traveling during the off-season doesn’t already sound enticing enough, keep in mind that there’s also sustainability benefits for both the city you’re visiting and the planet when you travel during this period. The city benefits on the income generated by year-round tourists, and traveling during different times of the year eases the strain on the city during peak season. The waste and air pollution are also decreased when people travel during the off-season.  

My experience in Edinburgh was enhanced simply because I traveled during the off-season, so when you are planning your next trip, keep in mind the months of November through March. It can be a better experience for both you and the planet, and honestly what could be better than that? 

Caitlyn Kulczycki is a sophomore studying media advertising with minors in psychology and creative writing. 

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