How to save money and avoid crowds while traveling

CNN  — 

Traveling during off-peak season can mean cheaper flights, cheaper hotels, and the chance to see a destination at a less frenetic time of year.

Those aren’t the only benefits.

“You’ll also find that in most destinations, locals will be more receptive to unique requests,” says Dean Wicks, chief flights officer of

Travel industry experts are full of tips on how and when to see destinations at their best.

Like steering clear of local school breaks or religious celebrations, checking the timing of big seasonal events that attract crowds, or heading to places when they’re not traditionally at their best.

Or simply rejigging journey calendars by a few days.

“If you can’t travel during off-peak times, select an off-peak day,” says Wicks. Tuesdays and Wednesdays have the cheapest airfare.

Here are other recommendations from well-traveled experts.

Get on a boat during the hurricane season

“Sailing in the Caribbean during hurricane season might not seem like an obvious choice, but it actually can be a great time to visit,” says Colleen McDaniel, senior executive editor of Cruise Critic.

“You just have to be flexible about itinerary changes.”

During hurricane season (which runs from the start of June to end of November), travelers are more likely to encounter a storm. “But unlike a hotel, a cruise ship can change route to avoid it,” she adds.

“This means you can take advantage of good deals without much chance of seeing bad weather.”

If a storm impacts the itinerary, it may not be possible to see every port scheduled. “Cruise lines often try to replace with other islands not affected.”

Head to the tropics during rainy season

Snorkeling in the Philippines: Rain doesn't matter when you're underwater.

Bali, Thailand and the Philippines are typically less popular during the rainy monsoon season. But going during this time can mean more adventurous water sports and amazing discounts.

“If you’re after beach time or volcano trekking (not recommended in slippery conditions), the wet season can be inconvenient,” says Marian Carroll, director of public relations at Four Seasons Resort Bali.

“On the other hand, the wet is better for river rafting (better flow conditions) and waterfall chasing,” she adds. “There’s also something wildly beautiful about sitting on your open terrace and watching a storm roll in, then roll back out again.”

Storms usually only last 30 minutes, says Carroll. “Then the sun is back out to play.”

The “dreaded” rainy season isn’t so bad in Bali, agrees Neil James Cartwright, country manager for Momondo. There are several fascinating cultural festivals during this time, like the Bali Spirit Festival, Ubud Readers and Writers Festival and the up-and-coming Ubud Food Festival.

“However, it’s still the tropics, so if rainy evenings aren’t your thing then avoid January to April and October to November,” he says.

In Thailand, a spell of rain actually clears up the air and cools things down, says Chalermsak Suranat, Tourism Authority of Thailand director for Dubai and the Middle East.

“The greener countryside is more relaxed thanks to empty beaches and quieter hotels. And the prices of hotel rooms are slashed.”

The rainy off-season in the Philippines is a perfect time to save money and do outdoor activities (like surfing, white water rafting, kayaking and river boarding) without breaking the bank, says Wanda Teo, Philippines tourism secretary.

“Despite downpours, the sea remains calm. It appears like a vast swimming pool with turquoise waters,” she adds. The result is a setting perfect for discovering marine life in Palawan, snorkeling and finding Nemo.

“Travelers can also discover the perfect selfie backdrops with a waterfall after rain in Mindanao and Visayas.”

For added luxury, there’s the option of renting an entire island in the Philippines during the much cheaper off-peak season. They can be booked on Airbnb.

Try a winter spot in summer or autumn

Not many people know that they avoid peak season (winter) and still see the northern lights.

When people think Lapland, they think winter, piles of snow and freezing temperatures.

“Only few people know that the mysterious north is as fascinating during summer and autumn, which tends to be our off-peak season,” says Anna Hakkarainen, head of marketing and sales, north America, for Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort.

“Lapland is the antithesis to the urban hustle and bustle,” she says. It has beautiful national parks with cold fresh air. “The water is so pure that you can drink it straight from the streams.”

“Also, one of the best-kept secrets is that the Northern Lights can be seen for a full eight months, starting from late August.”

In summer, travelers can experience the midnight sun lighting up the sky 24-hours a day.

“Hiking, horseback riding or quad biking in the middle of the night, under the glow of the midnight sun, is an experience that will stay with you forever.”

Fall is travel blogger Dave Brett’s favorite time to visit Finland. “There’s all-day sunlight in the summer and harsh, cold conditions in the winter. But in autumn, the colors of nature start to come alive. It’s an outdoor photographer’s dream.”

Finland’s free national parks are recommended. “Start with Nuuksio National Park. From here, explore the many hiking trails or even go out by canoe,” Brett adds. It’s possible to eat and pick wild blueberries and mushrooms along the way.

“All across Finland they follow the rules of “every man’s right” (jokamiehenoikeus), which states travelers can camp in the wild for free.”

Similarly the Alpine regions of Switzerland, Austria and France take on a lush natural beauty that’s rarely seen during its crisp white winters.

“It’s a getaway in fresh conditions, with flowing streams to cool off in and wonderful produce to graze on,” says Rob Arrow, senior product manager at dnata Travel.

Some hotels shut, but the result is that the valleys are less busy overall.

Go to a summer place in the winter

Florence's February chocolate festival is a good excuse to visit Italy in winter.

Florence, Florida and the Mediterranean are all spots loved for their warm weather and promise of sun. But heading there during the colder months can mean incredible discounts and quiet attractions.

“In winter, Florence is still vibrant but much quieter, allowing easier access to the cultural gems of the city in a more pleasant environment,” says Simon Ball, owner of Tuscany Now & More. It’s colder, of course. “But it’s still significantly warmer than many other parts of Europe.”

Winter sports like ice skating and snow tubing are popular, while Florence’s winding roads are less busy.

Seasonal winter activities include showings of “The Nutcracker,” Christmas and New Year’s festivals and Christmas markets. “Travelers can warm up with a cioccolata calda or gluhwein,” he adds. “Don’t miss the Fiera del Cioccolato Artigianale in February, coinciding with the traditional Italian Carnivale.”

It’s particularly fun to visit Florida in November, says Just the Flight CEO, Simon Goddard. “The parks get into the Christmas spirit. Hotels are also up to 50% cheaper, especially when visiting mid-week, and often include added deals like buffet breakfast or discounted golf.”

Just make sure to keep an eye on the weather forecast, as June to November is Florida’s hurricane season, he adds.

Most people think of the Med as a summer vacation, says McDaniel.

“But spring and fall will get you to beautiful ports when they’re less crowded.” Weather can be colder, making it perfect for people who want more sightseeing than beach time.

In addition to better prices and free upgrades, cruise lines tend to offer longer itineraries with more leisurely schedules, she says.

Visit a business spot during the holidays

As a serious business hub, Geneva’s quiet season happens during regular peak seasons for other destinations.

“Our off-peak months are January, February, July and August, weekends and long weekends like Easter,” says Caroline Melly, public relations and media relations manager for Geneva Tourism.

“In the summer travelers can enjoy the lake and water activities (like cruises, paddle boarding, water skiing, etc). There are outdoor events like an open-air cinema (Cine Transat) and free concerts like Musique en Eté and Les Aubes Musicales.”

Skip the big attraction for smaller delights

Serengeti: Great game all year round.

Every year, over two million animals migrate around the Serengeti. The process used to follow a clear pattern, says Olivia Barclay-Hudson, Tanzania specialist at Expert Africa. But increasingly, the migration route is becoming unpredictable.

Wherever the animals are expected to migrate, prices are the highest.

“The northern Serengeti from November to March is an ideal off-peak choice,” she adds. “It has great game all year round in a beautiful setting, with the only flowing river in the Serengeti.”

Travelers can enjoy wildlife sighting without the crowds. “Plus, they might even catch the migration if they are lucky!”

“Another fantastic wild adventure to enjoy in the low season is a safari in Kenya’s Maasai Mara,” says Anthony Khamsei, founder of Tripseats. “High season, July to September, coincides with the Great Migration. But head out in quieter months to pay half price.”

The animals are still there, he adds. “But there are far fewer people viewing them.”

Kyoto draws throngs of visitors during the cherry blossom season or autumn foliage season. “Yet visiting from late spring to early summer is a great time to explore the city’s famous gardens and temples,” says Takao Yamamoto with the Kyoto City Tourism Middle East office.

“There’s also beautiful weather to enjoy cycling or rickshaw rides in the Arashiyama district, all with fewer tourists around.”

Brave the desert in the summer

Dubai: Plenty to enjoy out of the sun.

Travelers to Dubai in the summer could save up to 55% on vacation costs while snagging room upgrades, says Niel Alobaidi, managing director of Emirates Holidays.

“The Dubai summer is scorching hot,” he acknowledges. “But there’s plenty to enjoy out of the sun.” These include Ski Dubai, IMG Worlds of Adventure, water parks, over 96 malls and climate-controled pools at many hotels.

Like Dubai, Qatar is incredibly hot during the summer. Yet it can be culturally fascinating to visit during the Ramadan period (expected to fall from the end of May to the end of June in 2017).

“Evenings spent at the desert or the souq after the sun goes down is a great way to experience things like the locals do,” says Samina Sabir, public relations and communications manager for the Qatar Tourism Authority.

“Once the sun sets, locals break their fast, get ready for fun, food, music, shopping and late nights.”

Plan your trip around a low-key event

St. Lucia in the Caribbean is popular from mid-December to April.

“However May is a good month to visit, with the island’s major annual jazz festival. So is November with the Tri St Lucia Triathlon event and Swim Fit retreats (where Olympic athletes coach),” says Paul Joseph, co-founder of Health and Fitness Travel.

The weather is more humid and wetter during the summer and autumn months, he acknowledges. “But rates are cheaper and St Lucia is simply beautiful for the scenery.”

Head to Goa between June and August. While the monsoon rains are in full force during this time, travelers can enjoy Sao Joao (24 June) and Bonderam (celebrated on the fourth Saturday of August).

“Sao Joao, which is dedicated to St. John the Baptist, witnesses scores of Goa’s Catholic community flocking to the street. They celebrate in bright, colorful garments with wreaths of flowers,” says Vincent Ramos, general manager of Taj Exotica Goa.

On the island of Divar, locals celebrate Bonderam with a vivid flag parade and a brass band. “It’s a memoir to the protest by the locals against the Portuguese, which gives a glimpse into the history of this beautiful destination.”

While Goa’s certainly rainier during this time, there will be fewer crowds, less traffic, lush green landscapes and swelling waterfalls.

Find Africa’s gorillas in the rain

Will you take your chance of a higher chance of rain in Bwindi but for a more memorable time?

Gorilla trekking is expensive any time of year.

“But traveling to countries like Uganda during rainy season will save money and even offer a better experience,” says Clint Johnston, founder of

In April, May and November, permits can be found for $150 less than the peak-season purchase price. Safari and accommodation rates drop as well.

“These are the best months to travel to Uganda if you don’t mind a little extra rain.”

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of the top spots to visit during low-season due to fewer visitors. “Tracking and photographing gorillas is always a challenge, but it’s even harder with a large group of tourists all trying for the best photo.”

“Chance of rain increases, but in Bwindi it rains year round.”

Johnston recommends combining a gorilla trek with a safari or chimpanzee trek. “You’re already there during low season, so you might as well check a few more experiences off the bucket list.”