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Old 04-10-2019, 06:51 PM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ > Raleigh, NC
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Absolutely. We even travel outside thsupposed "best weather" high seasons. Shoulder or low season travel gives us less crowds and reduced costs. Alaska cruise in May. European cruise in January. China in November-December.

Flying ON thanksgiving day or ON Christmas day has saved us a lot of money (but eating airline food for the holiday dinner).

At my age, the idea of attending a big festival like Mardi grad or Running Man, etc gives me hives and a migraine.
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Old 04-10-2019, 07:21 PM
 
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In general I will try to avoid big date specific destinations at their peak time (Mardi Gras, DC July 4th, NYC New Years etc). Some I have inadvertently gone to and found it very memorable... but, I did plan ahead and have a room rented.



An example was a road trip in from Denver to Portland I had a meandering path that took me to Black Hills area of South Dakota during Sturgis Rally. It was chaotic while there with thousands of bikers but cool because I had rented my motel room well in Hill City in advance (I then realized why it was the most expensive rate- haha).


Another was trip to eastern Europe. Unbeknownst to me I was in Vilnius during a major heritage festival in the old city, Zamosc, Poland during a major regional musical event, and Tallinn during a large athletic event. Excellent trip and experience.



On most recent European trip I was in Dresden during the Moritzburg festival and it was a great experience. I still got to see everything I wanted.
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Old 04-10-2019, 07:36 PM
 
Location: Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by llowllevellowll View Post
The real contrarian travel is when you avoid places like Times Square all together regardless of the date. If you travel to NYC and spend most, if not all, of your time in Jackson Heights or Astoria, then you're probably the contrarian traveler.
That's what I was thinking. Going to a particular destination but not seeing the main highlights because "everyone else is doing it" is contrarian travel, IMO.

As a kid I always wanted to see the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, the Tournament of Roses Parade and Times Square on New Year's Eve. Checked the Macy's Parade off my list and will enjoy the others from the comfort of my sofa.
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Old 04-11-2019, 07:11 AM
 
1,199 posts, read 435,162 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maduro lonsdale View Post
I wasn't thinking so much off season, but for instance if I avoided a destination specifically during its one big known event, and sort of getting the reply like, "wow, why would you not want to see Mardi Gras in one of it's most celebrated cities, but go in October instead?!?"

But yes, I'm sort of getting the idea now that it's not uncommon.
Nobody goes to Mardi Gras anymore... it's WAY too crowded!
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Old 04-11-2019, 11:36 AM
 
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Originally Posted by More Rock View Post
Yah, I am all for that. I even visit states that everyone is ignoring. Go where the crowds aren't, where the crowds have not ruined the place...yet.

When I have stopped for a while or stayed in “ignored” places, the people often have been very friendly and pleased to have travelers visit. I felt welcomed merely for appreciating qualities that the tourons don’t even see. This makes for a nice atmosphere all ‘round.

Contrast that to tourist-overrun places where visitors are considered cash cows or nuisances.
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Old 04-11-2019, 12:00 PM
 
Location: equator
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Originally Posted by GeoffD View Post
Meh. Sometimes I do the touron stuff. Sometimes I do alternative things. May, we’re doing the cliche Rome, Florence, Venice thing. I have Vatican Museum, Colosseum, David, Uffizi, & Pitti Palace tickets. I’ve been to all those places. My girlfriend hasn’t.

In late-September, we’re renting a house in Galicia. I’ve been there before and it’s deserted after the summer high season ends. That’s as contrarian as it gets.
While we loved our Italy trip, and saw all you mentioned, I give you credit for a second shot at the Vatican. That was THE WORST tourist experience of our entire lives. Standing in line for HOURS---WITH a "Skip-the-Line" $60 ticket! Shoulder-to-shoulder shuffling throughout---talk about claustrophobic! Couldn't see anything due to pressing crowds.

Other museums limit the amount of visitors at any one time---oh no, not the greedy Vatican.

I don't recommend it to anyone. And this was off-season, too. UGH.

But yeah, we do all our traveling on the shoulder or off-season. Hate crowds.

For our Greece trip coming up, we will spend most of it in little-known Lesvos, after a quick coupla days in Athens and Santorini.
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Old 04-11-2019, 01:04 PM
 
Location: East of the Sun, West of the Moon
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Originally Posted by pikabike View Post
Nothing contrarian about avoiding the worst crowds. I went to Alburquerque’s balloon fest more than 30 years ago. It was worth doing but very crowded. I can’t imagine what torture it would be these days.
The 'contrarian' way to enjoy the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is to avoid the Balloon Fiesta Park altogether, and instead seek out alternate vistas of the balloons. Hiking through the woods along the river, or better yet, paddling a canoe or kayak down the river during the mass ascentions give an even better perspective, and a lot less crowded.
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Old 04-11-2019, 01:05 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sand&Salt View Post
While we loved our Italy trip, and saw all you mentioned, I give you credit for a second shot at the Vatican. That was THE WORST tourist experience of our entire lives. Standing in line for HOURS---WITH a "Skip-the-Line" $60 ticket! Shoulder-to-shoulder shuffling throughout---talk about claustrophobic! Couldn't see anything due to pressing crowds.

Other museums limit the amount of visitors at any one time---oh no, not the greedy Vatican.

I don't recommend it to anyone. And this was off-season, too. UGH.

Same experience here not only with the Vatican but with Rome generally during a late October visit (shoulder season) in 2015. It was our second time in Rome and seemed vastly more crowded than it was during our first visit in August of 2004 (peak season). The Spanish Steps were completely under construction such that there was nothing to look at, yet there were mobs of tourists there. Ditto for the Trevi Fountain, which had scaffolding on it, and no water in it. We really were unhappy in Rome and will not visit again. FWIW we visited Athens and Santorini during the same trip and LOVED both. I know that Santorini can be incredibly crowded in the summer, but in mid to late October it was wonderful.
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Old 04-11-2019, 01:51 PM
 
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I started traveling as soon as I had the funds (first real job out of college in 1975) and now I'm really glad. I've been to the major attractions, I've stood in line at the Louvre and the d'Orsay, done the tour of the Tower of London, saw the Sistine Chapel in 2002...I still go to the major European capitals but avoid many of the main attractions. Last year in Paris I wandered a lot, and went to a Museum of Perfume (mostly a vehicle to sell Fragonard products, but fun to take the tour in French) and an interesting sound-and-light show at a converted factory. When DH and I went there in 2013 and endured the mobs at the D'Orsay, we also visited an exhibit of Slovenian Impressionist paintings at a wonderful, smaller museum- far more enjoyable. In Edinburgh I skipped the Castle and Holyrood Palace (been there, done that), climbed Arthur's Seat 3 days in a row and was blown away by the Surgeon's Museum in Edinburgh and the "Discovery" ship (used to explore Antarctica 100+ years ago) and the adjacent museum on a day trip to Dundee.

There's a lot of fun stuff outside the major attractions with the long lines and they're easier than ever to find on the Internet.
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Old 04-11-2019, 04:56 PM
 
5,410 posts, read 2,816,274 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ABQConvict View Post
The 'contrarian' way to enjoy the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is to avoid the Balloon Fiesta Park altogether, and instead seek out alternate vistas of the balloons. Hiking through the woods along the river, or better yet, paddling a canoe or kayak down the river during the mass ascentions give an even better perspective, and a lot less crowded.
Those are in fact my favored ways to see events without the crowds. The trouble with the balloon festival is being able to stay overnight anywhere near the event at all. The advice works for locals but not for people who need lodging or camping.

When I went long ago, the only campsite available was at Bernalillo State Park. Not bad, but I wonder how far away you’d have to stay now that the festival has become even more popular.

Best option is to attend the smaller, less-known, and newer events, where the attendance is lower and well-appreciated.
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