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7 Secrets to Cheap Off-Season Vacations

Thinking of taking a trip but want to wait until the summer is over? Save a bundle with these experts’ off-season travel tips.

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Three travel experts-Loren Bendele, CEO, savings.com; Seth Kugel, Frugal Traveler blogger, The New York Times; and Nina Willdorf, editor-in-chief, Budget Traveler-reveal how the wrong time can be the right time for the perfect vacation.

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1. Off-Season is Not Boring Season

Bendele: “It doesn’t mean you’re going when no one wants to go or that you won’t be able to experience the best of that area. Some of my favourite travel experiences have been during the off-season.”

Kugel: “Huge tourist destinations are the best bet for sharp discounts in the off-season because these economies are completely dependent on tourist income as opposed to business-travel income.”

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2. You’ll Save More on Hotels than Airfare

Bendele: “If hotels can fill an otherwise empty room for 25 or 50 percent of what they normally get, that money goes straight to their profit. Airlines just won’t fly as many trips.”

Kugel: “By far, the nicest hotels I’ve stayed in for very small amounts of money have been major chain hotels, like Marriott, which I get on priceline.com. The best deals in these places are during the offseason.”

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3. Do Your Homework

Bendele: “Get on a site such as tripadvisor.com, talk to friends or make use of your destination’s tourism resources. Go to the local chamber of commerce or a local travel bureau’s website, and get on the phone with people who work there.”

Willdorf: “I’ll find a specific deal online or something through the hotel’s own social-media marketing efforts. Then I call the hotel and try to book it directly, and I say, ‘I found this deal online, but I’d rather book it through you.’ You can talk about what type of room you want and when you get there, they’ll have all your information. Sometimes they’ll offer you the same rate as online, and sometimes they won’t. You can always go back and book the one you found online.”

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4. Go When School’s Out

Kugel: “Not that children aren’t delightful, but I’ve been in places where there are huge groups of school kids running around, making it a much less pleasant experience than it would otherwise have been.”

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5. Don’t Forget Business Travellers

Kugel: “Cities and major business centres are not as attractive for people looking for off-season deals, because there’s no off-season for business travellers. It’s hard to imagine a season in New York City that’s off.”

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6. Use Social Networks

Bendele: “Everybody knows somebody who knows somebody who’s in that area or was in that area or is from that area.” Get insider tips: “Put up a Facebook post that says, ‘I’ve been thinking of going to Seattle. Is there anyone from Seattle or who knows someone there?'”

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7. Always Negotiate

Kugel: “I called a place in Barbados. It was the off-season, and I said, ‘Is that your cheapest room? What if I stayed a few extra days?’ She said,’Well, I can offer you the rate for Caribbean citizens.’ It was really easy for her, and it would never have come up online. Only by my calling the hotel did she think of offering the special rate.”