One of the never-ending challenges our travel firm faces is sending clients to places that aren’t crowded. The “more is never the merrier” when you’re trying to see major attractions around the world.
As a travel advisor, knowing where to go and when to go is key to avoiding the throngs.
• Early or Late Season often solves the problem: When you travel in the summer months, you are competing with families around the world that have the same vacation time. If your clients are set on going to Europe, encourage them to go as early or as late in the season as possible.
• Avoid party islands mid-July to mid-August: A lot of people love the international jet-set scene of Mykonos but unless you also love crowds, best to avoid this Cycladic gem in July and first half of August. Same goes for the island of Hvar in Croatia, which is an international magnet for vacationing students and 20-somethings.
• Choose off-the-beaten track destinations: There are many beautiful and culturally compelling countries that are not as discovered as Western European capitals. Among them are the Balkan countries, in particular Slovenia, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Romania.
• Go the extra yard: Everyone seems to have Iceland on his/her/their bucket list. Most people just hit the sites of southern Iceland, within easy reach of Reykjavik. Indeed, one can see many of the country’s waterfall, volcanoes, and thermal features in the southern part of Iceland, but flying up to the north and exploring that part of this country or driving around the entire island nation is even more rewarding.
• Work around the cruise ships: All over the world, there are small, wonderful islands and destinations that take on a different character when cruise ships are on in port. Normally sleepy places get overrun with crowds, pop-up shops spring to life, lines form at restaurants and cultural attractions. While you cannot avoid the crowds entirely for your land-based clients, you can make it your business to know when they are at their worst. For example, if you have client visiting Dubrovnik, be sure to send them into the old town late in the afternoon or in the evenings, when the cruise ship passengers are back on board.
While we can’t change school calendars, and holidays may be the only time families, couples or individuals can get away, we can prepare our clients so their travel experiences are not sullied by crowds. If they want to go to Japan during cherry blossom season, book as early as possible so you get the hotels you want and make restaurant reservations well in advance. If they want to go to the Greek Islands (and don’t want to miss the iconic ones like Mykonos and Santorini), be sure to include one of the lesser known islands such as Naxos or Folegrandros.
Keep in mind that if a place or an event is considered a crowd pleaser, it’s going to be crowded.
Susan Farewell is the owner of Farewell Travels LLC (FarewellTravels.com), a travel design firm based in Westport, CT. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @FarewellTravels.