In my last blog post, I discussed the pros and cons of travelling during shoulder season for women traveling alone. But those pros and cons apply to everyone. If you haven’t yet, you can read that post here: https://www.findyourhappytravels.com/blog/best-times-to-travel-why-shoulder-season-rules In a nutshell, my recommendation is to visit a destination during shoulder season, if possible and if if the weather doesn't conflict with priority activities.
As promised, this week I’m talking about the best destinations this autumn, the next shoulder season.
Hawaii (September – mid-December)
The Hawaiian Islands are a bit of anomaly in that low season and shoulder season are virtually interchangeable with the near-constant weather. Seasonality takes place more as a result of peaks and valleys around holidays and the school calendar. Making autumn a lower demand period. The time between US Thanksgiving and Christmas is a terrific time to visit Oahu, as airfare and hotel rates tend to dip until mid-December. Thought there’s a decrease of tourism, there are no shortage of events such as the Aloha Festival in September, and big surfing and other athletic events.
Europe (September – November)
The shoulder season is one of the best times to visit most cities across the continent. You will generally find yourself amidst weather ideal for sightseeing with still a lot of daylight hours allowing you to make the most of your days. This time gives you more flexibility, transport hubs are considerably less busy and you will be able to avoid lines in many situations. And if you’re ready to head off the beaten path to small towns outside the larger cities, you will increase your savings as well as up the fun factor! The locals are typically far happier once the busy summer rush is over. The cons of Europe during this time apply mostly to beach – the weather is unpredictable and you might not be able to enjoy as you’d like.The best options are those in the Southern Mediterranean.
Morocco (September, October)
A diverse country that has something for everyone, but shoulder season is generally the best time to visit. During April and May and autumn, the climate is not too hot nor cold, yet the sun is still shining. And of course less crowds to contend with. Keep in mind that the temperature is quite varied across Morocco and particularly at nighttime can dip quite low. If you are intending to trek the Atlas Mountain or surf the waves of the Atlantic this is not the optimal time. However if glamping is your thing, it should be prime time in the Sahara. I just adored my glamping experience there last shoulder season (February 2019).
Kenya (October, November)
Kenya has many of the shoulder season benefits plus. The pluses include: good weather with little to no rainfall and less mosquitos; wildlife is easier to spot because the bush is less dense and animals gather around waterholes and rivers; the migratory birds are present; September and October are still optimal times to see the Wildebeest migration. It can still be quite busy in the most popular parks though. Starting in November, you will be able to see the newborn animals.
New Zealand (October, November)
Similar to Hawaii, New Zealand doesn’t truly have a low season. However for those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, our autumn is spring in New Zealand. So you will find some beautiful scenery ranging from the still snow-capped mountains to spring blossoms, and calm and settled weather. You will find shoulder season rates with many accommodations, allowing you to include a little more luxury in your vacation. One time period you will want to avoid is September 27, 2019 to October 14, 2019 as that is a school holiday there. If you’ve always dreamt of the South Pacific, this makes a great add on at this time of year as well.
Bali (September through November)
Bali is yet another good year-round destination. But if you want to save money, from mid-September into November is your best bet. There are great deals to be found on accommodation if you book early. You won’t find much difference as far as transportation and food. Through to November you will find the least rain, most sun and lowest humidity, so this is an excellent time to hit the beaches and for sightseeing. The autumn shoulder season is also one of the best times for diving. And September is one of the best months for a honeymoon (I have a couple travelling then who I know are going to agree!) As Bali is quite a popular destination, I totally endorse going during shoulder, and even low season.
Alaskan Cruises (September)
The bulk of Alaska’s visitors come during the three prime summer months; meaning four to six large cruise ships arriving in the most popular port communities each day. So true to shoulder season, in September you can see more of Alaska, for less, and amidst less people. If you time your visit just so, you can be rewarded with an extremely brief but dramatic fall. And shorter daylight hours also means a greater chance of spotting the Northern Lights. If you’re looking for a great small-ship company to cruise with, UnCruise is one of my personal favourites, and they do Alaska particularly well.
I visited Arizona in October/November 2017 and my expectations were far exceeded. We did a whirlwind week tour including Sedona, artsy Jerome, an epic hike to Havasu Falls, then up to Page and back down to Phoenix were I was able to fan girl all over Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, indulge my love for all things Tiki and partake in quite an impressive First Friday. Total shoulder season perks of better accommodation prices and WAY less crowds, particularly in hotspots like Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend.
Whether you're trying to make your dollar stretch farther or not, these are some great options for our upcoming autumn months.
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