NOW is the Time to Take That Off-season Vacation!

January 16, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

We just finished the winter holidays, and most of us are staring down the barrel of three or four more long months of winter, depending on where you live. Nothing but snow, ice, cold, and cabin fever until April, when you start wondering if 42 degrees is warm enough to have lunch outside.

What started out as a winter wonderland is going to turn into a slushy slopfest and you’re not sure you’re going to make it to the spring thaw.

The entrance at Universal Studios. This place is wonderfully empty during an off-season vacation

The ticket entrance at Universal Studios in Orlando, FL.

This is the time to take an off-season vacation! The end of January and all of February, maybe even into the very early part of March. If you can swing even a couple days before a weekend and head somewhere warm, just for a few days, it’s probably the best time you’re going to have.

Or maybe you’re traveling for business, and you’re going to be in another city, so you can add a couple extra days onto your itinerary for a little bleisure travel.

Here are a few reasons why you should take a quick off-season vacation now.

Universal Citywalk Orlando during an off-season vacation

Universal Citywalk Orlando,

  1. School is back in session, so families with kids are staying home. If you want to spend a few days, say, in the Orlando-based theme parks, the crowds are way down this time of year. The same is true for late October and up through November, before Thanksgiving. Anywhere you can go that’s normally packed with families will be delightfully empty during an off-season vacation.
  2. Prices are cheaper. This is considered the off-season for a lot of vacation destinations, so everything is going to be priced a lot lower than the peak travel seasons. You can save quite a bit by vacationing now.
  3. There’s a lot more availability. It’s hard to find a room sometimes during peak holiday travel. And the ones you do find are usually priced higher than the rest of the year. But hotels often have special pricing for the off-season.
  4. Lines and wait times are shorter. We love going to the theme parks during the off-season. What would normally be a 3- or 4-hour wait for the best rides in December or in the summer can be a 30-minute wait, or even no wait during the off-season.
  5. Fewer people, smaller crowds. I’ve never been a fan of big crowds. People bumping into me, walking four and five abreast on a sidewalk, stopping to look at a map right in the middle of the main thoroughfare. You still get that, but it happens less, and there are fewer people to try to maneuver around in the low season.
  6. It’s easier to get reservations. If there’s a special restaurant you want to try, you may be able to get in a lot more easily. Make your reservations in advance, of course, but you might be able to get in without too much of a fuss.
  7. It’s easier to get upgrades. From your flight to your hotel room, it never hurts to ask for an upgrade to a bigger room or seat. If you’re lucky, and the person you’re asking likes you, you’ve got a decent shot at getting it. Of course, you won’t get it if all the upgraded rooms and seats are full, but if there’s no one there, maybe they’ll let you slide in.

How do you feel about an off-season vacation? Have you ever tried them? What has been your experience, good or bad? Tell us all about it on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Try Some Winter Family Getaways This Season

October 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

I like winter. I like the bracing cold. I like the snow, although I don’t like the ice so much. I like seeing my breath and feeling little icicles form on my mustache. I love walking outside during the first snowfall when everything is so quiet because the snow has absorbed the sound.

Of course, I don’t get that here in Central Florida. We barely cracked the low 40s this past winter, and I miss it. Mostly.

So if I want a winter getaway, I’ve got a few places I would like to go in December or even January to get my snow fix for the year. Maybe you can check one of them out this coming winter and tell me how it goes.

Vermont/New Hampshire/Maine
I once spent a couple summer days at The Balsams Grand Resort in Dixville Hollow, New Hampshire. It was gorgeous, and I nearly got to spend the summer there. I also remember wishing I could come back for the winter, because they had some great winter activities as well: horseback riding, winter hikes, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, bonfires, and sitting inside by the fire with a book laughing at the weirdos out in the cold.
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Forget the Rockies! Here are a Few Out-of-the-Ordinary Mountain Suggestions for You

April 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Growing up in Indiana, a mountain was anything taller than your house, and you had to drive hundreds of miles for a mountain vacation. In fact, I’d wager that’s true for anyone living in the Upper Midwest and Great Plains states. We just don’t have mountains. You have to head south and west, past where the glaciers stopped during the Ice Age to get into the real mountains and a real mountain vacation.

Luckily, I’ve had a chance to travel to a few mountains in my life, including the Rockies and the Appalachians. While those are indeed majestic mountains, I never like doing things everyone else does. So here are a few suggestions for mountain vacation getaways that won’t get as crowded — or expensive! — as the “big mountains” everyone thinks of when they want a mountain retreat.

Mount Hood reflected in Mirror Lake, Oregon

Mount Hood reflected in Mirror Lake

Mount Hood, Cascades, Oregon:

Located about 50 miles east-southeast of Portland, this is the state’s highest point at 11,249 feet. And on a clear day, you can just barely see Mt. Hood from Portland. The people of Portland have sort of claimed it as “their mountain,” at least unofficially, and it’s a great place to spend the day hiking or skiing, depending on the time of year.
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