Shoulder Seasons Explained

Shoulder season can fall either before or after peak travel season in a region. For instance, Iceland experiences high demand for hotels and three-star Michelin experiences during its summer high travel season, yet shoulder season offers less crowds when visiting this Nordic nation.

Traveling during shoulder seasons can save money on airfare, hotel accommodations and tours while giving you more opportunity to experience unique opportunities, restaurants and landscapes that each destination has to offer.


Shoulder season may be your perfect travel time if you prefer relaxing trips at more affordable rates without competing with Instagrammers for that perfect sunset shot at a popular beach or scrambling to secure an in-demand restaurant reservation. These periods between peak and off-peak seasons in most destinations – usually springtime to early summer and autumn (fall) to winter in the northern hemisphere but with some exceptions – can offer relaxing, enjoyable trips at more manageable costs than during either peak summer or winter seasons.

Shoulder season can be hard to understand at first, but its concept makes sense. Like its namesake implies, shoulder season lies between peak and off-peak seasons like an arm supports its head; therefore travel demand decreases during this period; therefore prices and crowd levels become significantly less.

Your travel arrangements could also benefit from this period, with cheaper airfare, hotels and travel arrangements being made available to you. Plus, local events don’t usually occur during peak seasons: for instance Knott’s Berry Farm hosts its boysenberry festival each March/April; Hawaii celebrates its culture through multiple island celebrations like Waikiki Ho’olaule’a and Kauai Mokihana festivals in September.

Shoulder season also offers more consistent weather. While good conditions can often be found year-round in certain destinations, shoulder season typically features milder temperatures than either summer or winter seasons – which is especially advantageous if you plan on hiking or participating in other outdoor adventures that rely on the elements for success.

Related Article:   Travel Insurance - Protect Your Investment and Get Home If the Unexpected Happens

An unfortunate aspect of traveling during shoulder season may be reduced access to activities and attractions; many restaurants or other spots may even close. But this issue becomes especially prevalent when visiting areas that rely heavily on tourism for their economic stability.


Shoulder seasons in the US occur between March and May (springtime) and September to November (autumn), due to extreme cold in winter and heat in summer preventing travel.

Europe also experiences shoulder season in spring and fall, though its exact timing varies by location. For example, Turkey experiences its shoulder season from March through April and late September to early November respectively; and Paris and Amsterdam enjoy lower airfares and smaller crowds during this period.

Shoulder season travel can also be less expensive than peak travel times, saving up to 23% on your vacation costs and making a real difference if you plan on exploring museums, landmarks or attractions–or simply buying food.

Shoulder season is still warm enough for beachgoers and hotel pool users alike. Additionally, cooler temperatures don’t necessitate packing an additional jacket or sweater; oftentimes the weather makes walking or hiking comfortable without overheating you too much.

Some find the summer to be the ideal time for exploring nature or experiencing local culture and cuisine, while for others seeking an escape from overcrowded beaches and overpriced hotels it can provide an opportunity for restful getaway.

Shoulder season is also an ideal time to travel with children because temperatures tend not to be as intense. From tropical paradises such as Hawaii to historic cities in the northern hemisphere, exploration will be easier due to more space and less people around.

Florida is famous for its theme parks during the scorching summer months; however, you may enjoy visiting these same destinations more comfortably in late spring or fall. Meanwhile in New England, shoulder season can extend well past school let-out for summer through mid-November and is the best time of year for autumn festivals such as Connecticut Garlic & Harvest Festival and Freeport’s Apple Festival.

Related Article:   How to Travel Hawaii on a Budget


Traveling during shoulder season means both smaller crowds and savings on hotels and tours, thanks to supply-and-demand pricing systems in many travel sectors that allow more competitive rates when demand falls during off-peak seasons compared to peak seasons – this applies for everything from flights, rental cars and trains, hotel rooms and sightseeing tours alike – making shoulder season travel the ideal way to extend your vacation budget when visiting foreign countries!

Traveling during shoulder season offers another advantage, as you won’t have to deal with the same sweltering heat or rain that can ruin your vacation at other times of the year. For instance, visiting European destinations like Athens or Pompeii during their hot and humid summertime climate could quickly become unbearably uncomfortable; but during early spring or autumn shoulder seasons you will still be able to see these historical landmarks without breaking out into sweat.

African, Asian and South American destinations tend to follow this same rule. Though Kenya safaris or Inca Trail treks will never truly be “off season”, visiting during March-April or September-November can help avoid the oppressive heat and rainy conditions that often accompany their high seasons.

Shoulder season can bring more than savings; it also offers unique experiences you won’t find at other times of the year. For instance, many theme parks host food or culture festivals during these shoulder seasons that cannot be held during their busier summer seasons – like Southern California’s Knott’s Berry Farm holding its boysenberry festival during March/April or Hawaii hosting various events like Waikiki Ho’olaule’a or Kauai Mokihana events during shoulder season.

Shoulder season refers to the period between a region’s peak and offseason. This time span can last months or weeks and depends on where you travel to; for instance, in Europe’s busy summer travel period runs from June until August; its shoulder season typically begins early spring and lasts into fall.

Related Article:   The World’s Very Best 6 Flyboarding Destinations


Shoulder season is the ideal happy medium between peak summer season and off-season winter; prices are at their lowest, crowds are limited and weather conditions typically provide ideal conditions.

Shoulder seasons can be found around the world during March, April, September, October and November for most destinations. After summer’s high-season and before winter sets in, these months offer travelers incredible deals and savings opportunities.

Shoulder season travel is popular because it provides an opportunity to avoid crowds. Since most family vacations have already taken place, more families opt to remain home during these months, meaning fewer tourists at tourist hot spots and reduced waiting time at attractions, better chances at reserving seats at popular eateries and hotels, and cheaper airfare and hotel rates overall.

Thrifty Traveler Premium members who booked flights to Rome (FCO) and Venice (VCE) during spring or fall saved more than half what they would have paid during peak summer season; savings were even greater if booked during winter shoulder season travel.

Shoulder season travel can bring many advantages, one being enjoying outdoor activities without experiencing extreme temperatures or cold. Hiking and doing day treks are much more comfortable during spring and fall hikes in national parks as opposed to in the heat of summer when temperatures may become unbearably hot.

Shoulder season in the southern hemisphere is an excellent time for adventure seekers looking for some real snow skiing in Patagonia or snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef or trekking New Zealand. Our Travel Planner will give you more ideas of where to explore; or contact us now so we can plan an international trip specifically tailored to you! We specialize in international trips – discover more of what we can do today!

About the author

Adrian Cruce

I just love to travel, write about travel and so much more! :D Hope you enjoy my articles and Travel Tips. Feel free to comment below and get in touch with me on my blog and on Twitter!