5 Reasons to Travel Off the Beaten Path


Traveling has been a passion of mine, but growing older and raising a family doesn’t allow for as much downtime as I had in my 20s. However, we still make every effort of getting out of town and visiting new places. (See also: Housesit on Your Next Vacation)

We don’t often schedule trips to world-famous tourist destinations. We prefer to travel off the beaten path, selecting locations that will not be swamped with annoying tourists or priced completely out of our range. To date, Maine has been one of our favorite locations to visit, even though we went to a small area and rented a cabin in the middle of nowhere. Actually, the privacy was one of the reasons our Maine trip was the best. We had an entire ocean cove to explore with access to a rocky shore and no one bothering us. A short drive brought us into a small harbor town that was fascinating to explore despite the lack of traditional tourist traps.

Since our vacation to Maine a few years back, we have come to appreciate the many benefits of the vacations less taken. Here are five reasons you might consider traveling where the rest of the world doesn’t.

1. Discount Attractions

Lots of places have great things to see and do that aren't well known outside of the region. It’s all about finding a place related to what you love or love to do and doing some research.

If you like the water, find an out of the way beach location or other body of water. Boat rentals may be less expensive and beaches less crowded, and you can truly relax especially with family in tow. Many places will promote their small business tourism with big discount attractions that can really make travel affordable and fun. You should plan ahead by visiting the local community pages for activity information and coupons. The larger, more popular attractions often have no problem getting business and provide very little in the way of discounts and deals.

2. More Lodging Amenities

If you typically go to the same big-time tourist spots each year, you know the competition for hotel bookings can be tough. When you go to a less-traveled location, you often get much more for your money without stiff competition. Lesser-known locations may also offer several options for your lodging comfort including bed and breakfasts and private home rentals that are more reasonably priced and more accommodating.

3. More Privacy

There are people that enjoy the hustle and bustle of popular spots, but there are also many who travel to get away from all the noise. Our family always rents homes for affordability and for convenience. We don’t have to worry about being too loud for the neighbors and vice versa. Traveling with kids also means we find places with a backyard or private swimming pool, so we can kick back and enjoy without dealing with crowds and partiers.

4. More Downtime

When you don’t have to constantly worry about the crowds, you can spend more time actually enjoying your day — and your fellow travelers. Without a dinner rush to beat, you have more time to explore a new place and do things as you feel like doing them, rather than be concerned with what the herds of people are doing and where they are going. Traveling should be about doing things at leisure, not rushing around through the days and missing the actual fun.

5. Less Stress

Especially when traveling with kids, it can be highly stressful to constantly worry about a child’s safety in big crowds. When venturing in a quieter, private setting, kids can have a little more freedom to explore and parents can relax. Absorbing a community’s culture can also be very rewarding. You get to learn about new places, histories, and the community at large in a more relaxed environment. Many places offer great food selections that can’t be found elsewhere. There can be a lot to look forward to visiting an out of the way location.

For added benefits, consider traveling to off-the-beaten path locations that are still close enough to the larger attractions you are interested in. You can spend a day in a more chaotic environment and still have the advantage of a nice, comfortable place to relax for the rest of the time.

To what off-the-beaten-path locales have your travels taken you?

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Guest's picture

Not only will off the beaten paths benefit you during your travels and your vacations, they benefit you in life as well. Taking the road less traveled usually sets you apart from your peers and helps you draw the benefits of that distinction.

Tisha Tolar's picture

ABSOLUTELY Free Money Minute!! 'The road less traveled' is usually filled with the most possibilities, the best memories, and the most fun - on vacation AND in life! Thanks for sharing!

Guest's picture

This is one of the hidden advantages of homeschooling!

Guest's picture

I definitely agree. We have stumbled into all kinds of cute towns on road trips, often determined by the hours we are willing to drive in a day or a rained out camping trip. North Carolina was an especially fun place to do this a few years ago.

More recently, we were in Europe and decided a little more intentionally to stay at a casa rurale in Spain, which we got to by commuter train as opposed to main train lines to the more touristy beach towns. It was the highlight of our trip -- incredible service, suggestions for day trips from our wonderful hosts, and such a unique window into another culture. Our favorite things were just wandering around the countryside and surrounding villages for a day, and heading to a ski resort in summer and climbing the breathtaking mountains. Looking forward to more adventures like these. Thanks for the reminder and inspiration!

Meg Favreau's picture

One of my favorite travel experiences was driving across the country when I moved to Los Angeles. I purposefully left extra time in the trip so I could take back roads, and I discovered so many wonderful small-town museums, gorgeous outdoor attractions, and other neat stuff that I never would have seen otherwise.

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