It wasn’t until I became I blogger that I even heard of this concept of shoulder season. Sure, I’d heard of high seasons (peak) and low seasons (off peak). While we did research on both of these before booking a holiday sometimes one would encourage us to travel at a different time and sometimes it would actually make the destination more appealing. But shoulder season? What was THAT?
So what is Shoulder Season?
Shoulder season is the period in between a destination’s high season and it’s low season. It’s sort of in the middle point of peak and off peak – often in spring or autumn months. Shoulder season is a time when you can often get some great deals to see places that would have otherwise been off limits to you for cost or timing reasons.
Benefits of Shoulder Season
So why travel in Shoulder Season?
The main attraction for most people is the cost. From flights and hotels to restaurants and attractions you’ll often find you can save an awful lot of money just by not going there when everyone else wants to. Going to the Maldives in Shoulder Season has saved us money not once, but twice.
So not only have you saved some money but, by travelling out of peak season, you’ll probably also find that your destination is less crowded. Less people means less waiting around which is always a good thing in my book. I’ve also heard people say that restaurant and hotel workers are often more friendly and helpful to guests as they’re not rushed off their feet. Do your research though – one site I looked at said that February is shoulder season for European ski resorts whereas I happen to know that all British schools are off for one week AND French schools are off for 3 weeks in the same month!
Finding that the summer has started early or that he snow has lasted longer than usual means you could get lucky with the weather. Or you might just decide that you don’t want to be touring round a city in the summer heat when you could do it at a time of year when the temperatures are more reasonable than in peak season.
Maybe you’ve got your heart set on going to a particular place in the world but the times just don’t work with your school holidays. Fear not! Some destinations such as Thailand or Malaysia have high and low seasons at different times depending on which coast you’re staying on. So if your dates are fixed you might actually find you can be flexible with your location.
You can be spontaneous. July and August, which are the peak Sumer months in the Northern Hemisphere, are notorious for getting booked up months in advance. In shoulder seasons months you’re much more likely to be able to get into the nicer hotels.
Travelling in Shoulder Season can offer you a glimpse of a destination that other seasons simply don’t have. Seeing Paris in the autumn or London in the Spring will give you memories that are totally different to the ones that the rest of the world has after they visited in the summer.
Drawbacks of Shoulder Season
There are 2 reasons for peak season. One is, of course, that peak season is when the weather is at its best in a particular destination. The other, however, is a simple function of school holidays. In my honest opinion, August isn’t the best time to go to Florida but that’s still peak season because that’s when the school holidays are and, well, Disney World.
Unless you’re prepared (and allowed) to take your Things out of school in the middle of term, you might find that Shoulder Season is off limits.
Just as you might get lucky with the weather, you might just as easily get unlucky. Sitting right next to high AND low season means you might get unseasonally low temperatures at a beach destination or you might find yourselves in an extended monsoon season.
While some places in main touristy areas are open year round (I’m thinking capital cities, Disney attractions and the like), in less busy places they will close altogether outside of peak season. Check your facts before you travel as there’s little more irritating than showing up to a place only to find it’s closed.
In a similar vein to the attractions, it’s possible that restaurants and bars may all just shut up shop between the end of one peak season and the start of the next. That may not bother you (or you might even look for such a feature as only the hardcore travellers will head there) but it’s much nicer to know ahead of time what to expect.
Hotels often take advantage of the off season to do work on their properties – this often extends into the Shoulder Season. For us. upgrades to facilities and amenities have meant closed swimming pools, a temporarily relocated spa and diggers on the beach. None of it was the worst thing in the world but forewarned is forearmed – check the hotel website or even call ahead to find out what’s going on.
So there you have it – everything you never knew you needed to know about Shoulder Season. What do you think about Shoulder Season? Love it? hate it? Or just never heard of it?!!