For women travelling alone, it pays to know when is the best time to go where for a variety of reasons. In many cases, shoulder season is the optimum time to travel. Read about the pros and cons of doing so. Price is only one of the pros.
Travel is an investment right? So you want to make sure you get the best value for your precious dinero. I want that for you too! Those of us into solo travel for women have extra considerations when planning and budgeting for our vacations. Read on to find out why shoulder season travel is an ideal strategy for all, but especially for women traveling alone.
What is “shoulder season”? Shoulder season is the period between high season, when most people visit a destination, and low season when the fewest people go there. While this generally falls into spring and fall, the exact times vary by location. This is typically dictated by a couple of things. First off, the weather – the shoulder season is most often when the weather is somewhat less predictable. Secondly, when fewer people travel. This is often based on families and the school holiday schedule. Numbers spike when school is out whether its summer or holiday breaks.
If you were to ask me, when the best time to travel somewhere, I’m generally going to tell you shoulder season. Particularly for women traveling alone. The main caveats being if you have a specific event you want to attend or specific activities in mind that are weather-dependent. Each season though has its pros and cons when it comes to travel that you should be aware of when planning your trip.
Everything is Cheaper
You can test it out for yourself if you don't believe me. EVERYTHING is cheaper. From plane tickets to the activities you choose to your accommodation of choice. The latter is particularly important to me as a solo female traveler as my preference is unique boutique style accommodation and I can stay where I actually like without breaking the bank. Restaurants slash their prices for meals and beverages too. Overall you can save anywhere from a little to a significant amount of money.
Receive the hospitality of the service industry when they aren’t overrun and exhausted by long hours and an endless stream of tourists
This is pretty self explanatory. And for women traveling alone this can add a really positive element to your trip. Staff will have more time to chat with you and be more enthusiastic, whether it's in providing recommendations or in chatting and getting to know each other. Maybe you'll make a new friend! Overall you'll get a more rich, personal experience than you would during peak season.
Safety is always a concern for women traveling alone. With less crowds during shoulder season, there less chance you'll be pickpocketed. People packed like sardines is basically a heyday for thieves. Even still, you always want to take precautions, keep track of your belongings and stay aware of your surroundings.
You have a little more room for flexibility
If you don’t want to plan everything to the hilt, you can wing it and still likely find what you need as far as accommodation, transportation, dining and activities. I've found the more and more I travel the more I appreciate flexibility. That way if I arrive to a place and I really like it, or there's more to explore than anticipated, I can stay awhile. During peak season it's much like less likely that you can extend your hotel stay or find a new place or join that awesome tour you just heard about.
Smaller tour group sizes/better deals
If you've ever traveled in a larger group, you'll know the experience can be a fairly impersonal one. Plus you see less of the local culture typically. And I find them overwhelming in general. But in peak season this may be your only option as everything else has been booked up in advance. Visit during shoulder season means you want have to play musical chairs with 50 other people. Companies are struggling more to make bank during the shoulder season so one way they try to attract clients is to discount tour prices.
Here's a few other pros:
- Spend less time waiting in lines (this is a big one for little ole impatient me!)
- Enjoy the scenery and museums more because you’re not sharing with everyone and their mother (literally!)
- Better photos – important for you photographers or my fellow Instagrammers
- Have an easier time getting around because roads, trains, buses, etc aren’t as busy
- More opportunities to engage with the locals as they now have more time to enjoy themselves
- See the destination in a more authentic way when it’s not ‘performing’ for tourists
Now you know what’s in it for you as far as shoulder season. There’s another great reason to travel in the shoulder (or off) season, and that is to distribute the weight of tourists on a destination, the locals and the environment. Overtourism is quickly becoming a serious problem in places around the world.
Let’s not forget the cons:
- The weather may not be as great. You have to do your research to ensure the weather will be a match for your preferred activities. And to pack wisely.
- Opening/closing hours of attractions may change. They may be shorter, close on certain days and especially when it’s close to low season, some attractions close altogether. If there’s something you really want to see, then it pays to check in advance.
Let's use the picture below to clarify further. In high season, you would not find a single lounger empty. You will likely have to get out there at the crack of dawn practically to reserve your spot. In low season, you'll find the beach looking like it does in this picture. During shoulder season, you will find more of these loungers full, however not crammed beyond capacity.
To take advantage of the benefits of shoulder season travel, you need to know when shoulder season is in your destination. On my blog next week, I’ll be sharing some destination options for the upcoming fall shoulder season.
You know what else can help you decide where to travel? Knowing what kind of traveller you are. Take my fun little quiz to find out: