shoulder season noun: a travel season between peak and off-peak seasons, typically in the spring and fall.
At Taste Vacations, we tend to book our public group tours during the shoulder season of popular destinations whenever we can. Even when planning my own personal travel, I research when the peak, off-peak, and shoulder seasons are for the destination I’m interested in. I typically end up scheduling it during the shoulder season dates, if the timing works out.
But why do this? Check out a few advantages to planning your vacation during shoulder season:
My own biggest reason to book a vacation during the shoulder season is fewer crowds. Fewer crowds means shorter lines, more intimate experiences, and less chaos. Stroll the streets or a museum at your leisure rather than dodging around various groups of people. Walk right up to a hostess stand or bar and get seated right away. For me, fewer people equals less stress … and that’s exactly what I want on my vacation!
Booking travel during shoulder seasons tends to be less expensive than during peak periods almost every step of the way. Flights can be more reasonably priced, though depending on your destination, you also may find that there are fewer flight options to choose from. If you have a somewhat flexible travel schedule, you can take advantage of some great deals and save a good amount of money. Hotel accommodations can also have peak and off-peak season pricing which potentially allows you to pay less for a better room than may not have even been available to you during high season. In really touristy areas, restaurants may even lower their prices during shoulder and low seasons.
There are some experiences such as restaurant reservations, special wine or beer tastings, or museum visits that require reservations months or even a year ahead of time. Even planning way in advance, you may end up without a reservation due to the popularity of a place during peak season. Visiting those same places during shoulder season makes it easier to secure a reservation. Some places may not even require a reservation during those times at all, making it that much easier to plan out your itinerary.
More Temperate Weather.
Depending on the destination, another reason to book shoulder season travel is to experience more temperate weather. You may need to pack a rain jacket or umbrella for an afternoon rain shower (which I would recommend doing whenever you travel!). Or put on an extra layer or scarf to take a stroll down the promenade. But you won’t deal with crowds and cost of peak season nor the unpleasant weather than typically accompanies off-peak or low season.
If you have some flexibility in when you schedule your next vacation, I urge you to do a little research and go during that destination’s shoulder season. For the reasons I’ve listed above and others, shoulder season travel provides a better overall experience.