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.
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?