Best Times to Travel: Why Shoulder Season Rules!

Awesome Travel Stuff

When deciding where to travel, it pays to know 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.

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!

two women making peace sign near the Golden Gate bridge

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. 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.

The pros:

  • 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 tourist
  • 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
  • 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!)people near the building
  • 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.

aerial photography of blue-and-white patio umbrellas

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.

person walking on white hanging bridge during daytime

Now that you have a better idea of when to travel, I’m sure you’d love to know how to do so with less stress. I have developed a free, new resource, “The Busy Person’s Guide to Stress-free Travels”. If you’d like your very own copy, send me a message at shariblock@findyourhappytravels.com and I’ll hook you right up!

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Shari Block

Shari Block

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