Why February is one of my favorite months of the year to travel
If you've survived the craziness of Christmas and the long dark nights of dry January, you might be starting to get the travel itch and thinking about your next trip. Sure, travel during the summer period is wonderful. But it can also be expensive, hot and very crowded. This combination — for me — is really frustrating.
I am a huge fan of holidaying in off-peak and shoulder seasons, and depending on the destination you choose, February can be a fantastic time to travel. Here's why I love this month.
1. Cheap flights
February can be one of the cheapest months of the year to fly. Schools and universities are back in session so it's a quieter month demand-wise. But Skyscanner analyzed fares across an entire year and found January, February and September to be the cheapest months of the year.
This means you can expect great sale fares to all sorts of destinations. While some destinations that are wonderful in summer (like Boston, the Costa del Sol and the Baltic states) won't be ideal, you can expect to find great fares to destinations that are great to visit in February like the Canary Islands, South East Asia, Florida, and the Middle East.
Alternatively, if you love European cities in colder months you can expect insanely cheap fares — February is when we consistently see fares like $26 return on budget airlines from the U.K. to mainland Europe, and I've taken advantage of these in the past.
You won't have to book these flights a year in advance like you might be accustomed to for Christmas and August travel -- I can see these great prices for travel in just a few weeks, as airlines discount fares to fill excess capacity during this quiet month. You can use Google Flights' Explore function to find some very affordable fares to destinations you might never have thought to have even visited.
2. Off-peak accommodation
Like the flights, you are likely to save on accommodation traveling in February as well. That five-star hotel you saw in a glossy travel magazine could be now within reach -- you can find some great bargains for accommodation this month because of the reduced demand.
If you're using hotel points in a program that has peak off-peak dates, the entire month of February is likely to be off-peak — at least for most northern hemisphere destinations.
If you have elite hotel status you may have a better chance at scoring a room upgrade in February than during a peak period. If your status entitles you to a space-available room upgrade, it's a good idea to check if the hotel is selling higher room grades on the day you are checking in. If they are, and you are not offered a room upgrade at check-in you can point out to them that higher grade rooms are still for sale and politely ask for an upgrade in accordance with your status benefits.
Related: 7 tips for planning a winter sun holiday to the Canary Islands on a budget
3. Fewer crowds
Once you've found a cheap flight and a discounted hotel you can expect most destinations to have fewer crowds in February versus peak periods. This means fewer lines at the breakfast buffet, perhaps an empty seat next to you on the plane and a better chance of grabbing a lounge chair without waking up at the crack of dawn.
I've found just about everything easier traveling in February versus Christmas and August. Airports feel less crowded and easier to navigate. Tourist attractions are less packed. Photo-taking is easier. I'm more relaxed.
4. Less competition for leave requests
If your workplace doesn't like everyone to be on leave at once, there's a good chance your colleagues won't be planning a vacation in February. This means it may be easier to have that leave request approved, and you can hold down the fort in August when others are rushing out of the office for their expensive, peak-period break abroad.
Related: Visit these 9 magical European places for a winter getaway
You need to pick your destination carefully in February. As much as I love somewhere like Amsterdam, I would avoid it in February because of the weather -- it's the coldest month of the year there.
But if you can find a location where the weather is to your liking, I think it can be one of, if not the best months to travel. Every time I have traveled during this month I've found it cheaper, easier, quieter and overall more enjoyable. I travel just about every month of the year and if you are looking for a cheap, last-minute and easy getaway, I would really recommend February.