Why Travel During Shoulder Season?

Three Benefits of Shoulder Season Travel

It doesn’t matter whether you’re planning an international voyage or a trip to the beach community by the coast. Knowing when to go can make all the difference in a successful trip. You might be surprised by the benefits of shoulder season travel. [Scroll to the end to Download your FREE Month-by-Month Destination Guide.]

Understanding the Travel Seasons

The travel year is effectively broken into three seasons to visit a destination: peak season, low season, and shoulder season.

First, let’s take a look at peak season. That’s when most people visit popular destinations. The airfare and hotel prices are usually higher than other times of the year. The weather will most likely be beautiful, but you’ll probably be dealing with crowds, higher prices, long-lines, more traffic, and less than attentive service from overworked staff.

Now consider the low season. You may land an amazing deal on airfare and accommodations. Yay! And, you won’t have to worry about fighting crowds. In fact, there no one may be there, depending on where you go. Will you find yourself in the thick of hurricane season? A blizzard? Sticky humidity? Many resort locations close up shop during the low season, so make sure you do your research before booking that flight.

This brings us to that sweet spot between peak season and low season: shoulder season. It’s my favorite time to travel.

By carefully planning your travel times, you can easily reap at least three benefits of traveling during the shoulder season.

Benefits of Shoulder Season Travel

1.  Cheaper Fares and Rooms

The first benefit of shoulder season travel is that it is cheaper than travel during peak season. You will save quite a bit on airfares, hotels, rental properties, and tours.

This might allow you to visit a region you might not have been able to afford otherwise. Or, you may decide to put the money saved toward upgrades and other experiences.

Shoulder Season Travel - Cat Island Bahamas
We visited Cat Island in the Bahamas Out Islands during the late Fall shoulder season and were delighted by perfect weather and empty beaches.

In some areas, Florida for example, peak season coincides with school vacations. So if you’re traveling with children, expect that you may have to take the kids out of class for shoulder season travel.

(That’s what we did one year when we visited Walt Disney World in early May. Did the kids miss a week of Math? Yes. Do they have memories that will last a lifetime? Yup. Would I do it again? Absolutely! It was an ideal time to travel, in my mind.)

2. Fewer Crowds

Shoulder season travel is far less crowded.

This means popular attractions, like the Uffizi Museum in Florence Italy, may not have as long ticket lines, and once inside, fewer tourists vying for the same glimpse of world-famous art.

In fact, travel overall–by car, train, bus, and by foot–will be easier. If you’re like me, you can do without the crowds.

Travel during shoulder season may also make it easier to get dinner reservations at an in-demand. And, you may find the wait staff more attentive since they are not overworked.

By the same token, you may enjoy personal service at shops and boutiques.

Benefits of Shoulder Season Travel - Linomania
I received the benefit of personal attention in this upscale dress boutique in Positano, Italy during the shoulder season. It paid off for the owner!

3. Moderate Weather

Some might argue that shoulder season travel does not offer the best weather. My experience has been otherwise. I’ve found that in some cases, the peak travel season is just too hot! And what good is beach weather if all the beaches and pools are swarming with guests?

Benefits of Shoulder Season Travel - Ligurian Sea
What a treasured memory, to indulge in these expansive views of the Ligurian Sea in Vernazza Italy all to myself!

Sure, you may not want to swim in Cinque Terre’s Ligurian Sea in February, but you can put your toes in (like I did), and enjoy cool, comfortable weather that makes sightseeing (and air-conditioner free bus rides) much more pleasant.

Here’s the thing. During shoulder season, the weather may not be perfect; but then again it might be. Case in point: We happened to luck out with high 70’s tp low 80’s (F) weather on a November trip to Cat Island, Bahamas. Perfection!

Is Shoulder Season for You?

So, maybe there is some dreamy place you’ve crossed off your bucket list because you thought it was out of reach…or too crowded…or hurricane season. Even if it’s local, like a cool-weather trip to Cape Cod is for me, take another looking to see if you can take advantage of the benefits of shoulder season travel.

During shoulder season travel, the weather may not be perfect; but then again it might be. Click To Tweet

Have you had good luck with shoulder season travel? Drop me a note in the comments below!

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Jackie Gately

Jackie Gately is a seasoned travel writer, photographer, and marketing consultant who is passionate about travel. She loves casual-luxury experiences, coastal getaways, cultural attractions, and local, wholesome food and wine pairings. A perfect day ends with her toes in the sand or by chasing the sunset with her camera--ideally both.

2 thoughts on “Why Travel During Shoulder Season?

  • September 6, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    Great information. I’m planning a trip to Bangkok and Phuket next year. The cheapest time to visit is during their shoulder season which also happens to be the start of their rainy season. Per my research, March is a good time to visit because they are coming out of their rainy season and temperatures have not reached the level of HELL yet. And September is another good time because the region is beginning to cool down. I agree with you about traveling during the shoulder seasons.

    • October 19, 2018 at 6:55 am

      Yes, look for that sweet spot, LaQuisha! I’ve had great luck with it. 😀


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