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How to Avoid Crowds and Lineups When You Travel

Beat the crowds and get more out of your day with these helpful tips

A traveller looks out from the observation deck of the Empire State Building, in New York, New York

We share our best tips for beating the crowds, skipping the lines and discovering hidden gems so you can squeeze the most out of your next big trip.

Travel like a local

An older couple navigate a crowded market

Guidebooks and travel sites are helpful, but they all tend to suggest the same restaurants and touristy hotspots. Instead, ask locals you meet in taxis, cafés or shops for tips on eateries and attractions that are a little more off the beaten path. For example, when visiting Lisbon, guidebooks often suggest dining at Cervejaria Ramiro for an authentic experience, but lesser known spots, such as Tico Tico, cook up delicious traditional meals with nary an out-of-towner in sight.

Skip the lines

Three travellers explore Rome by Segway

Nothing wastes a vacation day more than waiting in line. Check the CAA Rewards site for local and North American attraction tickets you can buy online with a Member discount. If you can’t find your attraction listed there, try viator.com for just about every major tourist attraction and experience in the world, from the Empire State Building to the Eiffel Tower.

Embrace early mornings

Visitors explore the Colosseum in Rome

If a popular attraction such as the Colosseum in Rome opens at 8:30 a.m., plan your visit for those opening hours. Not only is early-morning light better for Instagram shots, but the crowds won’t photo bomb your perfect backdrop. There’s also something nice about being out at the beginning of the day and seeing locals walking to work and school.

Besides setting an alarm, you should also consider booking a guided tour of major attractions, as this sometimes comes with the perk of early admission.

Visit national parks without the crowds

A visitor takes a picture on the shore of a lake beneath a small mountain

Betsy O’Rourke, of Xanterra Travel Collection, suggests visiting the U.S. National Parks in shoulder season, when there are fewer crowds and more affordable room rates. Fall and spring are great times for the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Zion, Mt. Rushmore and Death Valley,” she says.

No matter what season you’re planning to visit one of Canada’s National Parks, you can—and should—reserve a spot a year in advance.

Make a plan for Orlando

A visitor holds up a card that says Universal Orlando Resort, in Orlando, Florida

Orlando is fun for every member of your clan, but it’s not the kind of place where you want to wing it. Save time by purchasing tickets to the major parks in advance from CAA Travel. You can also minimize time spent in line with upgrades like the Walt Disney World Resort FastPass+, Universal Express Pass and Volcano Bay TapuTapu. Meanwhile, a stay at one of Disney World or Universal Resort Orlando's on-site properties can garner a few extra perks, such as early admission, in-room babysitting and extended hours.

Choose the road less travelled

Travellers hike on a path up a hill

You can really avoid the crowds if you’re willing to swap out high-profile hotspots for some lesser known destinations. Go to Paros, Naxos or Milos instead of Santorini or Mykonos, for example. You’ll get a similar (and probably more profound) experience, without feeling like you’re in a tourist trap. For a packaged approach, G Adventures has plenty of tours to off-the-beaten-path destinations.

Keep reading

Learn about 25 under-the-radar places to travel in the spring 2020 issue of CAA Magazine.

Image credit: Court Cook/Unsplash, GetYourGuide, Henry Paul/Unsplash, Henry McIntosh/Unsplash, C. Cagnin,Yerko Lucic/Unsplash