The aim of a vacation is to relax, have fun and find some much needed quiet in a new environment. After all, it’s why a vacation is also known as a ‘get-away’. You are trying to run away from the daily grind and characteristically frantic existence that the average person deals with.
So when your vacation destination is overrun by noisy, sweaty heaving crowds of tourists that have you reaching for your water bottle every few minutes in exasperation, you’ll probably start wondering why you even left home in the first place. With some planning and creativity, you can exploit the different avenues at your disposal that help you avoid the crowds during your vacation. Here are some practical tips on how you can do that.
1. Buy Tickets in Advance
Many key destinations in both the developed and developing world allow you to book and pay for your spot online weeks or months in advance. Doing so well before your trip ensures you can skip the endless lines and stifling crowds at popular sights.
Buy early and you will quickly get in and out when you arrive. You’ll avoid the stress of having to stand around people whose presence doesn’t do your spirits much good.
2. Arrive Early or Late
If purchasing tickets in advance isn’t feasible, go for the next best alternative—show up late or early. Crowds tend to be smaller in the morning immediately after an attraction’s doors are opened and in the evening just before closing time.
The average tourist will usually adopt a more laid back approach to their vacation so they won’t be keen on going anywhere very early or very late. That means the bulk of visitors will gather between late morning and mid-afternoon.
3. Sleep Away from Hotspots
If you’ll be staying along the Las Vegas strip or in Times Square, then you have already made the choice to be in the thick of the crowd. If you want to flee the hordes, choose less touristy neighborhoods for your accommodation.
The type of accommodation matters as well. For instance, you are more likely to run into tourist crowds when staying at a major hotel in France than you would if you are in villas and vacation rentals (see more on Luxury Retreats).
4. Off-Season Travel
Think Florida during the March Break, New York at thanksgiving or London in summer. Traveling at these times means getting swallowed by a sea of frustrated, angry and irritating tourists.
Adjusting your travel dates by as little as a couple of weeks can make a huge difference in the number of people you encounter. Talk to your travel agent to find out the off-peak times for your chosen destination. Off-season travel is hitting two birds with one stone—smaller crowds and lower prices.
5. Go Off the Beaten Path
Visiting Paris, France? As a city that attracts millions of visitors, there’s a certain predictable itinerary that the overwhelming majority of tourists to Paris will follow. It revolves around the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles. If you want to avoid the crowds, you have to opt for locations that the average tourist won’t be going to.
In our example, many of Paris’ less prominent streets hide vibrant cafes, beautiful parks, and breathtaking architecture. Whether you are visiting Paris or any other location in the world, there’ll always be non-touristy paths that will give you an exciting experience but without the crowds.
6. Talk to Locals
A concierge, receptionist, cab driver, restaurant waiter and hotel cleaner are examples of locals you can glean plenty of valuable information from. They have a deep understanding of the city, region or country attractions. They are an inexpensive means of acquiring tips on the best times to go to popular destinations that would otherwise be teeming with tourists.
Fellow travelers are also a useful reservoir of knowledge either based on their own travel or what they have found out after talking to locals themselves.
7. Tour During the Week
Weekends are busier at popular sites since adults and kids are free from the encumbrances of work and school. So if you want fewer people, shorter lines, a guide’s undivided attention and more time to enjoy an attraction, schedule your visit during the week. If you are lucky, you may have the entire place to yourself.
You can reduce the odds of running into crowds even further by visiting after 2 pm. That’s because any school groups that may be at the venue will usually have to have returned to class by then.
You don’t have to resign yourself to tourist masses as an inevitable fate. Apply these tips to make your vacation more serene.