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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64 Comments

    • November 18, 2017 / 9:13 AM

      Thanks for reading, Megan!

  1. November 2, 2017 / 11:08 AM

    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 (:

    • November 29, 2017 / 10:31 PM

      That’s awesome! And so funny that you’re looking for a tropical vacation.. I’m always looking to travel somewhere cold in the winter away from the heat!

  2. November 2, 2017 / 2:36 PM

    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!

    • November 29, 2017 / 10:30 PM

      Glad to be of help, Marci! What destinations are at the top of your travel bucket list?

  3. November 2, 2017 / 3:40 PM

    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!

    • November 29, 2017 / 10:35 PM

      That’s such a great time to go – less crowds and much cheaper! And wow, snowbirds start rolling into your area in November?! I’m already dreading the crazy added traffic in a couple months!

  4. mckenna bleu
    November 2, 2017 / 3:51 PM

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

    • November 29, 2017 / 10:34 PM

      Too funny – living in Florida I’m the exact opposite, haha. Get me somewhere cold!

  5. November 2, 2017 / 3:53 PM

    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.

    • November 29, 2017 / 10:36 PM

      That’s a great month to travel! Usually the weather is pretty good wherever you go too! And you’re so right. Hurricane season can be a major buzzkill!

  6. November 2, 2017 / 4:57 PM

    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.

    • November 30, 2017 / 8:18 AM

      Oh man that’s not cool! Hopefully they’ll get better about giving notice on their schedule!

  7. Becca
    November 2, 2017 / 5:00 PM

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

    • November 29, 2017 / 10:36 PM

      I feel like January’s like the best month to travel – right after the holidays and not as crazy!

  8. November 2, 2017 / 5:24 PM

    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.

    • November 30, 2017 / 8:17 AM

      That’s the main reason I love traveling this time of year too! I haven’t made it to San Diego yet but it’s at the top of my list next time I get to CA!

  9. November 2, 2017 / 8:58 PM

    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!

    • November 30, 2017 / 8:08 AM

      Yay! Where’s the trip to? Bummer about missing Christmas things but I’m totally with you on taking advantage of those cheaper prices!

  10. Paige Rankin
    November 3, 2017 / 12:02 AM

    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

    • November 30, 2017 / 8:07 AM

      Ah that sounds like a dream! Where will you be traveling to?

  11. November 3, 2017 / 12:47 AM

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

    • November 26, 2017 / 8:00 PM

      Same! You can almost get 2 vacations for the price of 1!

  12. November 3, 2017 / 1:44 AM

    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

    • November 30, 2017 / 8:10 AM

      Thanks, Mary! Shoulder season is great! Where are you thinking you’ll plan your next trip to?

  13. Ash Neverson
    November 3, 2017 / 3:12 AM

    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!

    • November 18, 2017 / 9:14 AM

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

  14. November 3, 2017 / 7:37 AM

    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!

    • November 30, 2017 / 8:05 AM

      So exciting! And I don’t blame you – I like the cooler temps! Where will you be honeymooning?

  15. Kaitlyn Fickle Killebrew
    November 3, 2017 / 8:30 AM

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

    • November 22, 2017 / 4:35 PM

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

  16. Brooke Blanton
    November 3, 2017 / 10:55 AM

    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.

    • November 30, 2017 / 8:06 AM

      Me too! Any exciting travel plans for this December?

  17. Anna Hubbard
    November 3, 2017 / 12:21 PM

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

    • November 29, 2017 / 10:54 PM

      That’s such a great time to go! Still good weather + good deals but no crazy crowds!

  18. Audrey Knizek
    November 3, 2017 / 1:06 PM

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

    • November 18, 2017 / 9:14 AM

      I couldn’t agree more, Audrey!

  19. November 4, 2017 / 12:08 PM

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

    • November 18, 2017 / 9:14 AM

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

  20. November 4, 2017 / 8:30 PM

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

    • November 26, 2017 / 7:59 PM

      Thanks, girl! I hope you get some travel planned soon. What’s at the top of your travel bucket list?

  21. Taylor Smith
    November 4, 2017 / 9:39 PM

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

    • November 30, 2017 / 8:09 AM

      It really is! Plus, sometimes it’s almost like you can get 2 vacations for the price of 1 compared to peak season!

  22. November 4, 2017 / 10:27 PM

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

    • November 26, 2017 / 7:59 PM

      Yes! A win-win for sure :)

    • November 29, 2017 / 10:38 PM

      I hope you can find a good deal! Where are you planning to travel to?

  23. Sydney Power
    November 5, 2017 / 8:37 PM

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

  24. November 6, 2017 / 12:02 AM

    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!)

    • November 30, 2017 / 8:05 AM

      Oh wow that’s awesome! It’s been a while since I last visited NOLA – I’ll have to keep it on my radar for next Christmas season!

  25. November 6, 2017 / 11:21 AM

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

    • November 29, 2017 / 10:37 PM

      That sounds like a great time to go! I love December travel too because all of the Christmas decorations are up :) Where did you honeymoon?

      • November 30, 2017 / 8:41 AM

        We went to Panama City Beach. It wasn’t warm enough to play in the water, but the weather was perfect!

  26. November 6, 2017 / 2:35 PM

    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.

    • November 30, 2017 / 8:04 AM

      Well said, Melissa! I wish there was an option to take advantage of the peak season but without the crowds, ha!

  27. Kaitlyn Fickle Killebrew
    November 7, 2017 / 9:28 AM

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

    • November 29, 2017 / 10:37 PM

      Thanks, Kaitlyn! Any fun trips coming up?!

  28. Robin @ And Then We Tried
    November 7, 2017 / 10:42 AM

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

    • November 30, 2017 / 8:03 AM

      Same! Dealing with big crowds is the worst!

  29. November 8, 2017 / 2:55 PM

    These were GREAT tips! Thanks for sharing!!

    • November 22, 2017 / 4:36 PM

      You got it! Thanks for reading, Grace!

  30. November 8, 2017 / 11:26 PM

    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

    • November 30, 2017 / 8:02 AM

      Thanks, Katie! Me too! You can always find some awesome deals too!