The average cost of a summer vacation is $1,180 per person, according to a 2012 American Express survey. That money can go a lot further if you travel during shoulder season rather than during the height of tourist season. Budget-savvy travelers, read on:
When Is Shoulder Season?
Every tourist destination generally has a high season, when most people visit, and a low (or off-peak) season, when few travelers come. For a ski resort such as Aspen or Vail, winter is peak season and summer is low season. For the Amalfi Coast, a beachfront area near Naples, summer is peak season and winter is low tourist season. The times in between peak and off-peak are called shoulder seasons, because they bridge the two extremes. You must know the area’s peak season to determine when it will be shoulder season in a given locale.
- For ski resorts like Aspen or Whistler, shoulder season generally begins in April.
- For Hawaii, March through May is shoulder season.
- Shoulder season for Europe is while April and May.
- For Caribbean destinations, November is shoulder season.
Benefits of Traveling During Shoulder Season
In shoulder season, the weather may be less than perfect and some tourist attractions may be closed for the season or open for reduced hours only. In the shoulder season, you can find much of the advantages of your chosen destination, minus the annoyances of high-season prices and high-season crowds. Typical benefits include:
- Personalized attention from hotel staff, tour guides and more. If you’re one of a few, you’ll receive better and more personalized attention. If you are one of a million, customer service goes down.
- Hotel upgrades. Staff has more flexibility to upgrade when the hotel is half empty.
- Convenient dining reservations. Fewer travelers means less competition for top-notch restaurants or peak dining hours. Restaurants will be quieter and staff more attentive, leading to a more enjoyable dining experience.
- Reduced activity fees. Activity fees, equipment rentals and other fees go down when peak season ends, so your vacation budget can stretch further.
- Cheaper air fare and lodging.
- Car rental deals. When car companies have fewer clients, they’re more likely to incentivize travelers with low rates and deals.
- Discounts on group travel. Group travel comes down anywhere from 15 to 40 percent in the shoulder and off seasons, according to BusinessInsider.
Shoulder season offers the same security concerns as peak season. If you are visiting an area where poverty and crime are high, you will need to be just as alert in the shoulder as you would when tourists are common.
Educate yourself on common identity and personal theft tactics. LifeLock offers comprehensive information on ID theft and ways you can protect yourself. But aside from these normal travel precautions, shoulder season offers smart travelers many benefits.