best time to travel

Travelling in shoulder season: What you need to know


Shhh…we have a secret: April is a wonderful month to travel! While it’s probably not the month that leaps to mind when you’re planning a vacation, it probably should…precisely because most people aren’t thinking of it either, so you’ll be beating the crowd. The fact is that if you live in the northeast, April weather is erratic at best, and after a very long winter, spring can’t come fast enough. You can definitely make it come faster by travelling in the season where you can actually stretch out on the beach without bumping into someone else’s umbrella. Shoulder season.

What is shoulder season?

If you’re not a travel agent, you might never have heard the term, but shoulder season is one of the travel industry’s best kept secrets. There’s high season – that’s when the vacation crowd is at the airport, going away for the Christmas holidays or March Break. Then there’s low season, when only the bravest will pack monsoon gear into their luggage for air travel. The sweet spot is shoulder season, when travel prices come way down – not necessarily because there’s likely to be hurricanes at the destination, but because it’s not a time that most people take off.

April is shoulder season for a number of high demand destinations

How can you figure out the best time of year to travel? Most people like to consider a number of factors, including:

  • When they can get time off from work
  • When they can combine vacation time with other things, like business trips or visiting family
  • When weather conditions will be best
  • When key local events will occur (such as Mardi Gras)
  • When prices will be most favourable

Those are a lot of moving parts to take into account, so it’s good to know what you’re working with in terms of shoulder season. In April, popular destinations that have off-peak pricing include:

Caribbean Islands: Sun-seekers LOVE the fact that it’s hot, sunny and even dry in most Caribbean countries in April, yet the prices are a lot lower. My personal favourite is the Dominican Republic, which by April has said goodbye to the wave of spring breakers and is ready to welcome you with open arms.

Malaysia: For those who crave somewhere a bit more exotic but still want to lay on the beach all day, a resort in Langkawi may be just the thing.

The Mediterranean: For some reason, people like to visit Rome in July, when it’s approximately 102 degrees in the shade. That’s no way to see the Coliseum! Go in the spring when it’s cool enough to stay outside for long periods and see all the mind-boggling sights of this region without having to spend the entire time eating gelato and fanning yourself.

North America: While you might think only a masochist would go to a ski resort in April, the fact is that especially if you’re more about the pampering than the powder, you will enjoy a great time at some very scenic spots for a fraction of what you’d pay in December. The same goes for popular summer destinations like Niagara Falls – and you won’t have to brave hordes of other tourists.

Shoulder season doesn’t last long

The wonderful window that is shoulder season closes fast. If you are able to schedule your vacation right before or right after a high season, you’ll benefit from lower costs and fewer tourists sharing the beaches, hotels and restaurants. With all the money you save, you can splurge on beautiful new luggage for air travel like this Briggs & Riley carry-on which is currently featured in our Spring sale. Just make sure you book a return ticket and come back before the summer rush!

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