Shoulder Season Is the Best Time to Travel Euro-Summer Like a Local

Shoulder season

If you were fortunate enough to be part of the recent mass exodus to Europe, there’s no doubt you would have noticed the big dent in your bank account upon return. While any kind of travel can get expensive, travelling during peak season takes expenses to a whole new level.

That’s why you should consider travelling in shoulder season. If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s basically the period between peak and off-peak seasons. In other words, the time of year between high and low seasons at a destination. They’re usually around spring and autumn.

“’Shoulder season’ is an off-peak period when a destination has less crowds, lower prices, and milder weather,” writes American solo travel advisor Jen in an Instagram post. “It’s a great way to get a more authentic experience, while spending less for the same fabulous hotel rooms.”

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She clarifies that shoulder season isn’t visiting the Caribbean during hurricane season, for example. Instead, it’s visiting certain destinations when they still have great holiday weather, but are visited by far fewer tourists.

In Jen’s post, she shares that some of the best destinations to visit during shoulder season are Greece, Japan, Portugal, Chile, Argentina, New York, France, Iceland, Hawaii, Indonesia, Morocco, Colorado, Italy and Croatia.

The Latch‘s publisher Amanda Bardas says she and her family visit their extended family in Greece regularly, and always aim to time their visits with weather that allows for what the country does best: alfesco dining and beach sessions.

“Hands-down my favourite time to visit is September to October,” she says. “You don’t have to battle crowds, you don’t have to pre-book a seat on organised beaches, and you can sit back and relax at a restaurant without feeling like you’re being ushered out for the next table.”

Image: Getty Images

What can you expect in airfare savings during shoulder season?

“The biggest price drops are in the most popular destinations,” Kelly Soderlund, communications manager of the travel booking site Hipmunk told the New York Times.

To give you an idea of the airfare savings, the publication reports that data from Hipmunk found that international flights leaving from the US were on average 18% less than during shoulder season than they were during the US summer. It also found that flights from the US to Nairobi, Venice and Shanghai were 37% cheaper during shoulder seasons and a similar price drop — 34% — was seen on flights from the US to Milan and Hong Kong.

As for accommodation during shoulder season, expect significant price drops, too.

“Prices tend to rise during local school breaks and holidays,” Ali Killam, a consumer trends spokeswoman at Airbnb, told NYT. “Since different destinations around the world observe different school breaks, take some time to learn more about the area’s academic and cultural calendar before booking.”

So, when is shoulder season? While it varies depending on the exact destination as some have special events and festivals on — think Oktoberfest in Munich — usually, in the northern hemisphere, which includes Europe, the US and most of Asia, shoulder months are May, June, September and October.

Image: Unsplash

In the southern hemisphere, it’s usually April, May, September and October. In saying that, though, the tropical regions of the country — including cities like Cairns and Darwin — are best to visit around June, July and August, as it’s not unbearably hot and many Australians are away in Europe or the US during this time.

April, May, September and October are also considered shoulder months for Bali, though the wet season officially starts in November, so you could get some rain in October.

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