In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Off-Season.”
It is always an important decision point when it comes to travelling somewhere: when?
Guide books try and help you with their When to go chapter; but some readers, like me at times, might just use that chapter to avoid the “worst” seasons.
Because frankly speaking, what is worse than a congestioned city or viewpoint? Maybe if you live in the middle of nowhere, you have little to worry about crowds? Personally, I enjoy looking at sites, but not looking at crowds looking at sites. Plus, I enjoy taking photos of these sites, without featuring thousands of fellow visitors.
Sometimes, the price to pay for travelling outside of the crowd is high. But is it worth?
Is it worth sticking to high season because of the weather? No…
Travelling off-season can mean travelling off-weather. I know this very well because some of my journeys have been amputated because of weather conditions. I travelled all the way to Taman Negara in Malaysia in November 2009 only to find out it was too rainy to organise any kind of trek in the jungle. I did visit Hampi end of May in 2009, but I genuinely suffered from the heat.
But at the same time, weather is unpredictable in most places, and global climate change does not make this less relevant.
What can be worse than losing one of two days of a short holiday staring at the rain? But to be honest, that can happen in the middle of summer too, can’t it?
Is it worth sticking to high season because of the activities that can be done or not?
High season often means full activity potential. Try to find a kayak to go on the sea in Montenegro off-season; I didn’t manage. Also didn’t in the Carpathian chains south of Poland: you had to be there in summer to be allowed to go for a paddle.
But at the same time, you can also avoid the most touristy places to find easy, spontaneous solutions. The problem of off-season exists only in highly touristy areas; in remote areas, people are happy to have you as a guest and will do anything to accommodate your whims.
Or, you can travel during the high season and just avoid the most crowded areas to settle where it is less busy and more human. A few examples: renting a sea kayak was not a problem and was quite spontaneous in Vis island (Croatia), even during the pretty season; getting in the jungle was a no-no in continental Malaysia but not a problem at all Malaysian Northern part of Borneo, where nature is sublime and subject to other monsoon streams. (I seem to have lost my photos of that journey so unfortunately cannot share the incredible views of Borneo jungle 😦 ).
But there is one subject where I have a very uncompromising mind about high season and off-season: it is photography.
The problem of tourists, is that they pose. And despite my strong empathy and consumer understanding (I am a marketing consultant when I’m at work), I don’t understand this. Or better said, I don’t corroborate it.
So what happens in high season, is that it is impossible to take a photo without having someone pose on it. And I could start a collection of photos of people posing – actually I should – but I haven’t yet. For some reason, I still enjoy my history monument photos virgin of any middle-class pretty tourist girl with iron-straightened-hair. I suppose nature, and ideas, interest me more.
No matter how spontaneous, spontaneous travel is always the best. I hate about high season that you need to make plans – plans are fine, I don’t mind making plans – but keeping them?
The other advantage of travelling off-season is that, even if it will be too hot or too rainy, you will have the place for yourself. You will be able to take the photos you want. If you hesitate a bit and need several shots to compare – that won’t be a problem, because there isn’t anyone anyway. You will not have to reserve tickets online, you will not have to queue, you will not even have to wait until tourists are done with their cliché shots.
So frankly, why travel in high season?
Because in the end, mass tourism and its semiologic and sociologic signs are the same everywhere, and what I am interested in is the local culture, not that of tourists.
Sites are so much enjoyable when you have them all for yourself, and can take the photos you want in the way you want.