The Best Time of Year to Travel

The last quarter of the year (October-December) is my absolute favorite! Not only is it filled with the best holidays (Christmas is coming!!!) and cooler weather, but it’s also typically my busiest travel season!

When it comes to travel, there are essentially 3 different types of seasons: peak, off-peak, and shoulder season. They usually do line up with the regular seasons of the year (spring, summer, fall, winter), but vary tremendously by location.

For example, you’d be able to get great deals on tips to NYC or Boston in January or February, since the weather is cold and you’re not able to partake in as many outdoor activities. But if you want to take the same trip in the summer, expect prices to be double or triple! On the flip side, if you were wanting to visit the Bahamas during January or February, the prices would be higher because people who live in cold places are wanting to escape to the warmth.

Let’s take a look at the different travel seasons.

The best time of year to travel

Peak Season (June – August)

Peak season is considered the busiest time of year. As a rule of thumb, this is ALL of summer, since kids are off from school and families are taking their summer vacations. Of course there are other “peak” times thrown in as well like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and long holiday weekends. Think of it this way – if it’s a popular time of year (or weekend) to visit, it’s peak season.

While peak season can certainly be more convenient to travel since you have the time off, it’s also the same time everyone else is looking to travel, which results in things booking up fast and the prices jumping way up! So if you know you’re going to be planning a trip during peak season, be sure to book early!

Off-Peak Season (November – March)

This is the best time to travel if you’re trying to stick to a budget and/or prefer smaller crowds. The only downside is you might not get the best weather, since off-peak season typically takes place when you’re dealing with less-than-ideal weather conditions (read: freezing temps in the winter).

Shoulder Season (April/May, September/October)

The shoulder season occurs between the peak and off-peak seasons. This typically takes place when kids are in school, the weather is still decent, and crowds aren’t too big or too small.

Which Season is the Best to Travel Overall?

It really depends on what you’re looking to get out of your trip! If budget is the primary factor in your decision making, you’ll want to plan a trip during off-peak season. If you’re being budget conscious and still want to visit when there are good weather conditions, you should travel during the shoulder season. And if you want to experience a destination at its “best,” peak season is the way to go.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, October-December is my busiest travel season and favorite time to jet set! For me, it’s because I LOVE falls cooler temps and seeing the leaves change. I’m also the #1 fan of Christmas, so I love visiting new cities when they’re decked out in Christmas lights and festivities! My wallet takes a hit for sure since it’s a peak time of year, but to me, it’s totally worth it!

If you’re not sure when each travel season falls for a place you’re considering planning a trip to, you can easily find out through a quick Google search!

Tell me, what’s your favorite travel season?

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  • These are great tips! Thanks for sharing!

  • I love to travel all year long. In the winter I tend to travel for family get togethers while in the spring and summer i tend to travel with friends or my boyfriend. I sure would love a tropical vacation this winter though (:

  • This is awesome! We’re looking in to starting family vacations soon, I love all of the needed information here. I’d have never thought to look up peak seasons!

  • we usually go in the shoulder or off peak season depending on whats happening for us! Our peak season where I live is actually Nov-March and it’s craziness! I am already starting to see the influx of people!

  • mckenna bleu

    My fave travel season is the winter because I love going somewhere tropical when it’s cold at home.

  • September is usually my favorite because it’s not crowded and it’s our anniversary! Though if we go anywhere south you have to be careful of hurricanes that time of year.

  • I don’t really get to travel much but living in a resort town, I have a love/hate relationship with shoulder season. It’s amazing because town is empty and most places offer great local specials but it kind of sucks because restaurants will randomly close for a couple weeks without any notice.

  • Becca

    I personally tend to travel during January or December. But I am totally interested in traveling during shoulder season.

  • I totally agree with you about October–December being the best time to travel! It’s usually around this time when we plan (mostly I do) our trips because the weather is so nice. After all, we live in San Diego, so we don’t really have to go anywhere else during summertime.

  • We’ve got a trip planned for this month! We will miss a lot of the Christmas events but it was still a lot cheaper to book than traveling in the summer!

  • Paige Rankin

    I planned a couple trips off peak season to see that area with snow in the holidays. Can’t wait!

    xoxo, Paige
    http://www.midwesterncharmblog.com

  • I love taking advantage of the off peak season bc travel is def a bit cheaper haha.

  • This was so informative and totally makes sense! My favorite time to travel is shoulder season :) Reading this post has me craving to plan another trip here soon. Thank you for this!

    xxx,
    Mary

  • Ash Neverson

    I prefer to travel in the spring-summer season only because I cannot stand the cold. I usually have more fun in warmer times! Great and informative post!

    • Understandable! It’s warm pretty much year round in FL so I’m always itching to get somewhere cold, haha.

  • I actually really love the shoulder season to travel. It’s a little less busy, and definitely less hot! We’re actually taking our honeymoon in April!

  • Kaitlyn Fickle Killebrew

    I always try to travel off peak if I can! But if there’s a chance to travel I must go!

    • I’m totally with you on that, girl! Any fun trips coming up?

  • Brooke Blanton

    Even though it’s cold, I love traveling in the winter. My birthday is in December, so I love bundling up and taking a trip or staycation somewhere! Great way to get away from all the craziness of the holidays.

  • Anna Hubbard

    I love to travel during the shoulder season! No kids = a great vacation for me!

  • Audrey Knizek

    The less crowds the better in my opinion. I’d take some less than ideal weather over super crowded locations any day!

  • This is my favorite time of year too! We have done two January NYC trips and gotten the best deals ever!

    • That’s awesome! I love finding a good travel deal!

  • I haven’t traveled much, but I’m hoping to soon, so this is super helpful.

  • Taylor Smith

    I love going during off seasons! It is SO much more affordable and usually just as fun!

  • I love traveling during the off seasons! It’s great saving money and dealing with fewer crowds!

  • I’m trying to plan a trip in February! Hopefully flights are good prices!
    -Nicholle
    http://www.nichollesophia.com

  • Sydney Power

    I have just started travelling so all these tips are so appreciated. Thank you!

  • I agree- Oct-Dec is the best for traveling. Like you, I love seeing other places decked out for Christmas. Last year I was in Toronto, NYC, New Orleans and Chicago just before Christmas and it was fantastic seeing the decor, especially in NOLA!)

  • My husband & I went on our honeymoon in December and it was PERFECT. There were no people around and I loved it

  • It’s true! It depends if what you want. In general I prefer shoulder season. But it’s always fun to go on peak season.

  • Kaitlyn Fickle Killebrew

    So many great tips! I’m so ready to travel again!

  • Robin @ And Then We Tried

    Shoulder seasons are for me! Love that the weather is still nice and the crowds are small.

  • These were GREAT tips! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Love these tips! I like traveling to popular destinations during the off season when possible since things are so much cheaper!

    ​xx katie // a touch of teal