There are some wonderful benefits to planning your vacation in the off-season or shoulder season. Generally you can avoid the crowds, while getting very good value for your money. Airfares are usually lower. Many hotels and resorts offer promotions like a fourth or fifth night free. Occasionally cruises or tours offer a single supplement waiver. No need to get up at dawn to reserve the best beach chair, and no long lines to view must-see sites like the Tower of London or Versailles!
Here are some of our top recommendations for off-season travel:
The peak time to travel to the Caribbean or Mexico is over the winter holidays when kids are out of school and travelers are fleeing the winter weather in search of sun! If you have flexibility in your calendar, consider travelling in early December. The first two weeks of December are often very low season for many destinations, so you’ll find your choice of accommodations and avoid peak season rates. The weather is warm and hurricane season is over. An added benefit is that many destinations are already decorated for the holidays!
Another great time to travel to warm weather destinations is between mid-April and the beginning of June, or again in July and August. Temperatures are high, but if you pick a location with good tradewinds, you can have a wonderful trip at a fraction of the cost of travelling over Spring Break or Winter Break.
Are your children preschool-age or home-schooled? Travelling between mid-September and Thanksgiving, when most kids are in school, to family-friendly destinations like Disney, often gets you benefits like free dining packages.
Want to travel to Europe? Consider late fall or early spring, instead of the peak summer season. Most of Europe still has very pleasant weather and there are no crowds! Imagine walking in to see the David in Florence or the Doge's Palace in Venice with little to no wait! Airfare and hotel prices are usually lower in these shoulder season months.
You could also consider spending your Winter Break in Europe. Pack your coat, but the weather is usually milder than in the mid-Atlantic, with no crowds, and iconic cities of Europe are all dressed up for the holidays!