How to avoid huge crowds at popular tourist destinations

What fun is flying halfway across the world to Kyoto, Japan only to sidestep the sprawling Arashiyama bamboo grove? Source: Shutterstock.

BEING ABLE TO GO AWAY during the holiday season after months of slogging away at work is always a rewarding prospect. The only problem is, so are a chockfull of other travelers.

This means you may have to jostle through the crowds and that could put a damper on your holiday plans.

So what do you do?

Well, you could decide to avoid popular tourist destinations and head to the more low-key attractions instead, and some may argue that attractions are tourist traps, but what fun is a holiday if you can’t at least catch a glimpse of the Taj Mahal while you’re in India, for example? What fun is flying halfway across the world to Kyoto, Japan, only to sidestep the sprawling Arashiyama bamboo grove?

The fact is, tourist traps are part of traveling, and there’s a sense of pride when you can exclaim, “I’ve been there!” in a conversation about tourist spots. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to avoid contributing to crowds and long lines, and from letting it dampen your experience.

Let these strategies be a big part of your holiday planning.

Arrive early

This is the oldest trick in the book.

Sure, while on vacation, the last thing that you’d want is to have an alarm jolting you awake before sunrise. But the benefit of waking up early and getting to your destination early is, there would be very few tourists around.

It’d also be the best time to snap some shots for the ‘gram.

Off-peak hours

If you’re not a morning person, Google ahead.

Google has a fancy feature that allows you to find out when tourist sites, restaurants, and attractions are the least busy. In the search results, the “popular times” feature has a blue bar graph that indicates the least busy and busiest times.

You can also send the information via the web to your mobile with one click.

Advance tickets

Another good way to skip the long lines? Timed tickets.

Most attractions, such as theme parks, have websites that allow visitors to purchase tickets in advance. Not only do advance, timed tickets allow you to skip queues, they also help with crowd distribution and make your visit breezier.

If you’ve got enough dough to spare, invest in an express pass.

Get local

Locals always do it better.

If you’re not confident about maneuvering around town on your own, hire a local to be your personal guide. He/she may know how to use lesser known roads, avoid peak hours, and steer clear of crowds.

There’s no better experience like having a local teach you the ropes.