Far from the madding crowd

The Asian Age.  | Pratyusha Chatterjee

The shoulder season means less expense, more unique experiences and fewer people — in other words, millennial-friendly travel.

While obstacles like heat, rain or snow are present, young travellers find them better than hordes of ‘tourists’ ruining the pristine beauty of places. (photo credit: Ashfaq Rah)

Imagine taking a stroll in the middle of a desert, but in June; or reaching Leh on a chilly winter day. Not really your dream vacation, right? Yet, millennials seem to be enticed by these plans. Why, though?

“While millennials travel a lot, they haven’t entered the peak years of income yet, so are almost always strapped off cash. Travelling off-season is the best way to satiate their need to travel as prices are much lesser for properties and flights,” says Rahul Singh, CEO and founder, Ithaka. He also feels that the youngsters want to stand out as unique.

While obstacles like heat, rain or snow are present, young travellers find them better than hordes of ‘tourists’ ruining the pristine beauty of places.

Forests becoming breeding grounds for animals during the monsoon, while hills face landslides. But with the advancement of technical support and ecological understanding, these hindrances can now be surprassed.

“I totally agree with the concept. There is a traffic menace in Kashmir between April to July and October to December. If you travel on the boulevard road along the Dal lake, it takes hours to reach your destination or if you want to go to Sonamarg, Gulmarg, Pahalgam —  you spend more time on the road than the destination,” shares Arshad (name changed), a Kashmiri photographer. He adds, “Kashmir gets more tourism during the summer and slugs through the autumn and winter. If the business remains stable throughout the year it will be beneficial for the local economy. We will have better staff management because most of the places cut down on staff and re-hire during the peak season, which  makes it difficult to maintain the quality and uniformity.”

Ankit Rastogi, head of accommodations and activities at Cleartrip states that the Indian youth use innovative tools to make smart utilisation of their time and take more informed travel decisions. He asserts that the youngsters, while going for off season travel, would like to discover the same place differently. After all, today’s new-age traveller values unique travel experiences over conventional holidays.

Destination marketing companies and tourism boards are now looking to capitalise on this trend by bringing in more tourist traffic during the off-season. For instance, if one opts to explore Goa during the monsoon, they can in the leisurely ambience, even if water sports and other such activities are not available during the off-season. Once can still go on to explore the state, its culture, and its nightlife without the hustle-bustle that has become commonly associated with it. In Ankit’s opinion, “Large swaths of India’s hinterland are dotted with lush, verdant flora. These places are accessible and available to would-be explorers if they’re willing to travel just 100 kilometres from top urban hubs. The feel, the experience of going on a road trip in the monsoon, with raindrops splattering on the windshield and grey clouds drifting lazily across a blue sky, is absolutely unparalleled.”

On a concluding note, the spokesperson also points out that young travellers are using travel as a way to de-stress, unwind, and re-energise themselves from time to time. This has led to the rise in demand for meaningful travel experiences where one genuinely seeks to immerse themselves in the local culture. Maybe it has been a tradition that winter vacation is reserved for the hills and forests (Maybe Sikkim or Madhya Pradesh) and the summer is for deserts, beaches and islands (Rajasthan, Goa or Andaman and Nicobar), but who knows, these trends may completely change over the next few years.