5 Benefits of Shoulder Season Travel

by Jessica

August 25th, 2010

For many people, a summer vacation is a rite of passage. Whether it’s a backpacking trip you take through Europe between college and your first job or the annual summer road trips you’d take with your family to explore National Parks, we’ve all taken a summer trip. But did you know that if you shifted the timing of your trip by only a couple of months you might be able to save a bundle?

You’ve probably heard of “high season” travel, and its budget-friendly cousin “low season” travel – but many people avoid “low season” because they aren’t willing to spend their vacation in a place where the weather is bad. For those of you seeking the perfect combination of reasonable weather and cheaper prices, then, there’s the “shoulder season.”

As you’d expect from the name, “shoulder season” refers to the seasons between the other two seasons, and although it can vary from destination to destination you’re generally looking at the spring and fall as the primary shoulder seasons. Here are a few of the reasons you’d want to book a trip in the shoulder season.

5 Benefits of Shoulder Season Travel

  • Better Value – The best reason to travel in the shoulder season is that you’ll save money over the high season. Of course, if you wait until the low season you’ll save even more – but then the weather tends to be worse. The shoulder season offers the best balance of value for your money, in that the weather’s still nice enough to enjoy and the prices are usually quite a bit lower than in the high season.
  • Smaller Crowds – The high season always draws the crowds, so traveling in the shoulder season also means you don’t have to fight through the same number of people to do or see what you want. This means you’ll be able to get closer to the artwork in museums (within reason, of course) because there isn’t a sea of people between you and the Mona Lisa. And that’s always a good thing.
  • Shorter Lines – Along with the smaller crowds, shoulder season travel also means shorter lines. You might still have to wait in line at the major attractions, but the wait will be significantly shorter than during the high season. And yet the weather – an important factor if you have to wait in line outdoors – won’t usually be awful enough to make you skip the attraction altogether.
  • Better Weather – There are some who travel to hot destinations on purpose and who love feeling like they’re in a sauna when they’re outdoors. There are others for whom the weather isn’t perfect until it’s bone-chilling. For the rest of us, avoiding the extremes of summer and winter means more milder temperatures for an overall more pleasant experience. Perhaps Goldilocks was right after all, and going for the “not too hot, not too cold” weather in the shoulder season is the best thing to shoot for.
  • Friendlier Locals – This isn’t always going to be the case, but if you’re visiting a destination that gets inundated by travelers during the high season, it’s understandable that the locals would get tired of the same questions being asked over and over again. Give residents a break by visiting in the shoulder season and you might just find them more willing to help you out when you’re lost, more smiley when they’re waiting on your table, and more forgiving when you’re butchering their language.

Check out Five Shoulder Seasons Around the World

photo by spaceriot



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