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Depending one where you're off to, peak or high season travel can get really busy. So busy that the experience of being there can be detrimentally affected. Not to mention what it's like for the locals who very likely just want to go about their daily business. But over-tourism—or unbalanced tourism, as it's sometimes called—is another story.
There are many reasons why tourism to a particular destination might boom at certain times of year—ski destination in winter, for example—and some are perennially popular. Destinations that are popular with families will typically heave during school holidays, too.
And as demand grows, so does pricing. It can be a perfect storm of factors that leaves you feeling flat after your holiday. So, what can you do about it? What's the best way to make the most of travel at peak season?
We asked some ATAS accredited travel professionals for their top tips and recommendations. Here's what they had to say on the subject.
"Be prepared to plan and book early", says Anna McMurtrie, Managing Director of ATAS accredited travel agency Wentworth Travel in Sydney (NSW).
Anna stresses the point that locking in your travel arrangements early in the piece comes with a couple of key benefits: Availability of the best possible products like your favourite airline seats, hotel rooms and cruise cabins, and early-bird pricing.
"It's really important that you connect with your trusted travel advisor early in the planning process so he or she can look out for specials for you," says Anna. For families travelling during school holidays this can be the difference between getting a great deal, and missing out altogether.
Anna also recommends that families look at all-inclusive holidays, and pay for them long before they travel. "When the time comes for you to embark on your adventure, you won’t have to think about the cost or pulling your wallet out each time your kids want something to eat—a constant in my family," she adds.
Anna's final recommendation is to book with a reputable, ATAS accredited travel professional, and to take advantage of their industry contacts and connections. Emily Warbrick, General Manager at ATAS accredited Snowscene in Brisbane (QLD), also suggests booking early. "For snow holidays the early bird really does catch the snow-worm!", she says.
"The earlier you book the better the package in terms of discounts, lift passes, ski school availability and airfares. Not to mention you have better chance of securing your preferred ski resort and property," adds Emily.
A winter holiday specialist, Emily is well-versed in the ways of Australian snow-seekers. "The majority of Australian skiers travel during school holidays, particularly those on the quest for that magic white Christmas in Japan, North America and Europe. 2020-21 ski season pricing will be out early in 2020, and we already have people on waitlists for next ski season", she says.
Hitting the slopes in emerging destinations is another great way to make the most of a peak season ski trip. So, where does Emily recommend?
"Panorama in Canada is a great option for travellers looking for a lesser-known ski-in, ski-out destination. It's just four hours outside of Calgary, kids ski free all season, and accommodation in peak season is up to 50% off if you grab a super-early-bird deal," she advises.
Another advantage of booking with an ATAS accredited travel agency like Snowscene, is that their relationships with airlines deliver further savings when airfares are bundled with ground arrangements.
For Andrew Buerckner, Director at ATAS accredited Platinum Travel Corporation in Melbourne (VIC) the ideal way to avoid the peak season crush is to book a self-drive holiday. “Self-drive holidays are a great way to beat the crowds, especially if you’re prepared to go a little further afield," says Andrew.
"Take Hawaii, for example. Skip Waikiki, for example, and hire a car to explore Oahu's beaches, craft breweries and botanic gardens. You’ll get to set your own pace, and have a head start on the local tour buses!” he adds.
Even though your ATAS travel agent will know where you are as you travel, they always recommend that Australian passport holders register for travel alerts before they travel, and review any applicable travel warnings.
Looking for more insights from ATAS-accredited travel agents?
Read more travel tales on our blog like these posts about how travel agents can help turn travel mishaps in happy travels, new entry requirements to New Zealand and top tips for your next visit, and finding La Dolce Vita in Italy.
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