5 Reasons to Travel During Shoulder Season
Many travel destinations have distinct high and low seasons throughout the year.
During high season, the weather is beautiful, every attraction and accommodation is open and accessible and ready to please, and--as you might imagine--crowds are thick. Prices are high during high season because there are plenty of people who want to visit at this time of year, and you would be wise to book everything ahead of time so you have a place to stay, a car to drive, and fun things to do.
During low season, the weather may not be so nice (or may be actively terrible), many hostels and guesthouses are closed, parts of the country may be inaccessible, and tourists are nowhere to be found. On the bright side, the things that are open may have much lower prices. You'd likely still be wise to book things ahead of time, if only to be sure someone is there to help you when you arrive.
In my opinion, both of these kind of suck.
I don't want a million tourists in my beautiful photos.
I don't want to have to plan everything ahead of time or risk doing nothing at all.
I hate paying a premium because I came when everyone else did.
I hate going somewhere amazing and not being able to do the things that brought me to the country in the first place.
So what's a girl who is rather particular (let's not say picky) to do?
Well, my friend, that's where shoulder season comes in.
Shoulder season is different in every destination, but falls between high and low seasons.
I'm tempted to say it's the best of both worlds, but that would be a bit misleading--instead, you get a good mix of the good and the bad.
Here are five reasons I love to travel during shoulder season:
1) The weather might not be quite so good as during high season, but you'll get to see a different side of your destination than most people if you're adventurous. It gives it a bit more of an off-the-beaten path vibe even if you're seeing the same sights as everyone else. Don't let a little chill or rain stop you from exploring!
2) Prices are often significantly lower during shoulder season.
3) Hostel and guesthouse owners will have more time and inclination to chat (and tell you about things you'd never find on your own!).
4) Things are more likely to be open than during low season, and more available than during high season, which gives you more flexibility with your itinerary.
5) Your photos will be much prettier without so many tourists crowding the view. Pro tip: wake up earrrrly if you want the place entirely to yourself.
I'll be real: shoulder season has my heart because I hate people (just kidding, but I do hate large crowds) and I love saving money. If you're a budget traveler, and especially if you're a budget traveler who likes a bit of freedom in your travel, shoulder season is the best.
Fair warning: in some destinations, traveling in shoulder season may mean that you miss the thing that first attracted you to the country, so be mindful of your priorities.
I'll be in Iceland in shoulder season, which means I'll probably miss seeing the Northern Lights. I was really bummed about this at first, but then my mother conveniently moved to Fairbanks, Alaska, where they have aurora activity more than 200 nights per year. Since I'll travel to see her later this year, I'll still get to see them.
Bonus: I'll be in Iceland when the puffins are there! Puffins were my favorite Lisa Frank characters.
Do you prefer to travel during shoulder season? If not, why do you prefer high season or low season?