What Is Shoulder Season?

Shoulder season usually means fewer crowds and lower prices.


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When it comes to choosing what time of year to visit a resort, it pays to check out the value pricing offered during the shoulder season. Shoulder season is the period in between a destination's low and high seasons of tourism, making prices cheaper for hotels and airfare and crowds smaller at popular attractions.

Europe, the Carribean, and the United States all experience shoulder season during spring, fall, and winter when children and college students are in school. As these times of year are less busy for tourism than the summer months, during vacations, and over public holidays, prices are lowered to entice other people to travel abroad.

Many resorts offer special discount packages during shoulder season, and just because fewer people are visiting during this season doesn't mean the attractions are any less enjoyable. In fact, because of the reduced costs and crowd sizes, you're likely to even more on your vacation.

Why Shoulder Season Is a Good Value

While the pressures of supply and demand boost resort prices during the high season and holidays, when everyone wants to visit, it deflates them during the low season, which typically falls during a destination's worst weather months.

Oftentimes the shoulder season gives visitors a combination of desirable prices and weather on their trip to popular destinations. Even though there are fewer people visiting during this time of year, the attractions still offer all of the tourists' favorite amenities and features.

If you're visiting the Swiss Alps in February, for instance, there might not be a lot of events to participate in, but you can still enjoy some of the best snow of the season on the ski and snowboard slopes. However, since most schools are in session all and there aren't any international holidays in the month, destination resorts don't get as many customers so they offer discounts to try to sway guests to come in February.

Shoulder Seasons Around the World

Many properties have shoulder seasons in the spring and fall, but the dates vary. It typically depends on the specific destination, including what activities the destination is famous for offering. If you're looking for a skiing destination, warmer months of winter are the shoulder season, but if you're interested in scuba diving, colder months like October and November are the shoulder season.

Shoulder season also depends on spring break and other special events and holidays, which are exceptions to shoulder season discounts. Countries in Europe, the Carribean, and the Americas often expect tourists during holidays like Christmas and Easter in addition to seasonal school breaks. As a result, businesses often raise prices on flights and accommodations.

Even during the shoulder season prices can vary from the weekdays to the weekend, depending upon whether the property or service is frequented by business travelers or weekend visitors. Be sure to check out your destination's website and ask the reservation manager about packages and other special offers when you call.