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Travelling during off-season. Bad Idea?

A frequent question we have been seeing on the GoPo travel forum is whether it’s advisable to go to Andaman during the monsoon months from June to September?

I remember having a similar question when planning a trip to Goa in July, a couple of years back. There’s something about beach holidays that associates them almost exclusively with dry, summer or moderate, winter months. However, having been to Goa both in February and in July, I can safely say that this concept of “off-season” can actually work in one’s favour if one is open to new experiences. Here are my top 5 reasons for travelling to beaches (or, anywhere else) during the off-peak, monsoon season:

1. Unavoidable Circumstances

Sometimes, a holiday has just got to be then. While one might try to work around seasons and plan holidays, sometimes one has no choice but to plan it then. For instance, in our case, July was our anniversary month and that was not going anywhere. So, we thought about it and decided that we’d be dealing with monsoon wherever we went in India and even, if we did not go anywhere. So might as well take the plunge and spend the time going to a place one likes… in our case, we went first to the hills and then to Goa! Similarly, other circumstances may arise that make travel unavoidable during the monsoon… it could be a honeymoon, it could be the only month you’ve got leave approved or even that it’s the only time when summer vacations are on and the entire family can travel for an extended period of time. Whatever your excuses to not travel, we believe the time of the year should not be one! Unless, of course, you’re trying to go to a place that may be closed during that part of the year… Case in point, Rohtang Pass.

2. Great Deals

Once the tourist rush is over, everything from flights to hotels get cheaper making it a perfect opportunity to score great deals and giving one the flexibility of being able to book a better place for longer. I remember planning a weekend break to Pondicherry one year and because there were less tourists, we scored a great deal with a 7 star resort which included complimentary meals for breakfast, dinner and tea time; complimentary spa packages; a great cottage with a view of the backwaters and, a welcome hamper. A similar thing happened when we visited a place called Mohan’s Retreat in Binsar in July. We were one of two families at the resort so we pretty much got to pick a room of our choice, we got a chance to have several long chats with the manager to get an idea of the town and local culture and the kitchen staff were literally waiting on us hand and foot (we ended up having the yummiest parathas and French toasts I’ve personally tried in over 15 years… and I’m not even a paratha person!). Now, those are things you’ll remember and talk about to friends… Over-crowded tourist spots, hefty hotel bills and below average service are not!

3. Spend time taking a break

Often vacations are so jam packed that we come back from a vacation more tired than when we left. Sometimes, it helps that some options remain closed during off-season month. Fewer options mean we try to jam less in and actually spend more time unwinding and just taking a breather… a perfect way to spend a vacation.

4. Travel like a Local

Even though the tourist season is off, most locals are going about their day to day business. If you’re someone who likes to ‘slow travel’ and absorb the culture of a place, this is the best time to visit a place, bond with the locals and learn more about a place than any packaged itinerary can tell you.

5. Novel Experiences

Monsoon holidays have their own romanticism. Some of my best memories of Goa were swimming in the pool feeling the rain and sun simultaneously play across my back, taking shelter and sipping tea in a shanty while it poured outside, riding pillion though lush, green paddy fields and walks on the beach as it rained with the sound of the feisty sea in the background. These are those experiences that you don’t need a photograph to remind you of… they remain permanently etched. While there are upsides of travelling in the off-season or in the monsoons, especially to beach side places, one must also be prepared for plans to fail. For instance, if one were to go to the Andaman Islands during the monsoon, one must be prepared for no water sport options, spending days cooped indoors and erratic ferry schedules depending on the condition of the sea.

Hence, to fully enjoy a monsoon holiday, one must be willing to let go of their guidebooks and planned itineraries, adapt and tackle each day as it comes. Bon Voyage!

Contributed By: Ananya Raju, Co-Founder at GoPo

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