Peak seasons always mean higher prices on everything. If that sounds depressing, know that there is no reason why you can’t enjoy your dream vacation during off-peak travel times. Not only can it save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars, but you might have more fun, too.

Off-peak travel can mean smaller crowds, shorter lines, better and more attentive service and, on many occasions, pleasant weather instead of the scorching, unforgiving sun. And, of course, your savings can be significant.

Plus, if you’re earning miles on your travel credit card, your rewards could possibly take you even further when making travel purchases.

Airfare is cheaper during off-peak seasons, days and hours.

Consider the airfare: Most leisure travelers love flying on Fridays and Sundays to maximize their vacation time, and only a few prefer going in the middle of the week. If you are one of those few, however, it can be much cheaper to find your coveted ticket to a number of destinations, although there are exceptions to this with some markets.

For instance, traveling to Washington, DC might be cheaper on the weekend, when you don’t have to compete for a ticket with most business travelers. And you can choose off-peak travel hours as well. Fly in the afternoon and you have a better chance to save money, because business travelers tend to favor morning flights.

Other factors can affect airfare prices.

Remember that off-season periods will differ from one destination to another, and don’t forget to research local events, such as major concerts and national or international conventions. These might mean price increases and crowds even during seasonal off-peak times.

Dozens of factors go into the airlines’ pricing algorithms. You don’t have any control over most of them, but you do know that flying on holidays and school breaks will cost you more. The same applies to flying to Europe in the summer and the Caribbean in the winter. If you want to maximize your airfare savings, think Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday during off-peak season. And if you want to do even better, brave the red-eye — and you might really save.

Hotel rates are also lower during off-peak times.

Some resorts and luxury hotels will have huge discounts starting during what’s called “shoulder season,” which happens right before and after the peak season. Sometimes you can save up to 70% on your stay in five-star hotels and tropical resorts during shoulder and off-peak months, and the weather will still be great. For instance, it might just start getting colder in Northern Europe, and some tropical destinations might be coming out of hurricane season.

Don’t overdo it.

Saving money can be great, but you don’t go on vacation to be miserable.

Traveling to a tropical paradise is always cheaper during the hurricane season, but do you really want to take this risk? And Europe can get very cheap during winter, but a higher chance of heavy rain or snow might force you to spend most of your vacation days in a hotel room or museum whether you want to or not.

Do your homework.

Every place is unique in its own way, so when choosing your off-peak time, research your dream destination carefully. Traveling to the Caribbean will be cheaper in August or September, while a New York trip can save you some serious cash in January or February.

But the Caribbean is likely to be more pleasant and only slightly more expensive in October or November, right before the high season kicks in. And you may want to spend a little more money and visit the Big Apple in April or early May when the weather is likely to be more pleasant, and the crowds still relatively smaller.

By seeking the right balance between savings and fun, you may find you can have an unforgettable vacation for a fraction of the price.

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