Perfect in shoulder season – less crowds!
Like a delectable chocolate treat, shoulder season is so sweet. Sandwiched between the painfully high prices and overwhelming crowds of the high season, and the often miserable weather of low season. Shoulder season is the perfect time to travel. Typically, hotel rooms are cheap, crowds are thin, and the weather is mild. You’ll notice a warmer welcome, too, when you travel off-peak. Locals, who may grow weary of crowds in peak season, have time to relax in shoulder season. For instance, an afternoon in early May is an ideal time to linger at an outdoor café in Rome and people-watch, before the summer tourists descend.
No significant shoulder seasons fall within January, February, July, and August, but prices drop immediately after the holidays in January.
But shoulder season for Paris doesn’t fall on the same dates as shoulder season for Tokyo. So here’s a shoulder season calendar for some of our favourite destinations for easy reference:
Mid: North Africa. The Christmas travel crowds are gone and the weather is warm.
The big waves have subsided, along with the winter beachgoers; resorts are also bringing down rates. Through May
Early: Rio de Janeiro
Carnival has come and gone, which means hotel rooms are easier to find and less expensive (by as much as 60 percent).
It’s warming up and wildflowers are beginning to bloom; a perfect time for exploring the countryside. Through April
India: Hotel rooms and airfares are lower if you can locate these between celebrated holidays.
Early: North American Rockies and European Alps
Late-season skiing is still excellent in high-altitude destinations like Whistler, British Columbia; Vail, Steamboat, and the Arapahoe Basin, all in Colorado; and Tignes, France.
Early: Australian Outback
With average temperatures now cooling to between 80 and 86 degrees, you can visit Ayers Rock without risking heatstroke. Through May
Mid: European Cities
Western Europe. Rome, Barcelona, Paris, and London will still be cool and you’ll have your chance of rain, for sure, but the crowds are thin and prices go way down. Outdoor café culture is picking up, but the summer crowds won’t arrive until early June. Get here before they do.
Mid: The Caribbean and Mexico’s Riviera Maya
Room prices fall as much as 30 percent after Easter, and hurricane season is still weeks away. Through early June
Peak hotel rates have come down after last month’s cherry blossom celebrations, and the humidity has yet to kick in.
Mid: Mediterranean Cruising
The weather’s warming, but prices remain as much as 20 percent lower than in the summer high season.
Mid: Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Airfares from the States are at their lowest, and in Australia’s north, days are full of sunshine. Through August
April and May are sweltering, but the rains cool things off in June. The tourist crowds won’t arrive until next month. Through June
Baja California Temperatures have yet to soar, but resorts are offering bargains in anticipation of the hot months to come.
Early: Northern Caribbean. (But avoid hurricane areas.)
Room rates and airfares drop after Labor Day. Through September
Days continue to be sunny and dry, and dude ranches are offering discounted fall rates. Through September
Early: South Africa
It’s early spring in South Africa, and prices are low on game drives. You’ll also find foliage is less dense making it easier to spot the “Big Five”.
Prices at safari lodges are lower and the foliage less dense, making it easy to spot the Big Five. Through early October
Early: Mediterranean Resorts
Southern Europe. The weather has turned chilly up north, but around the Mediterranean, you’ll usually still find warm temperatures… and good travel deals.
Rates have started to drop, but you’ll still find ample sun on islands such as Crete, Ibiza, and Sicily.
Days are cooler, and camel-racing season has begun. Hotels, meanwhile, are enticing travelers with bargains. Early September through October
Mid: Vancouver Island, Canada
Room prices have dropped by nearly half, and it’s still warm enough to enjoy wine-tasting at the island’s many vineyards. Through November
Early: Tahiti, Fiji, and the South Pacific
The water is crystal clear before cyclone season, making it a great time for diving and snorkelling. Christmas is high season in these warm destinations. Try to get your beach time in before the rush.
Mid: The Caribbean and Mexico’s Riviera Maya
Before the holiday rush, beaches are empty and it’s easy to find hotel deals. Through mid-December
Early: North American Rockies and European Alps
The snow has returned, but the winter season is just beginning. Late November through mid-December
Early: Costa Rica
After months of rain, the clouds are thinning. Through mid-December
Let us know your shoulder season travel tips?
With rising cost in almost every aspect of our day to day living expenses and the economy on a never ending downward spiral, people feel as though they will never be able to afford the luxury of a holiday. The constant financial stresses of these increasing costs, actually raise strong arguments for holidays being needed now more than ever.
While holiday costs can easily get out of control some careful planning before and during your trip will help make your holiday affordable and just as enjoyable.
If you have experience travelling in the past, you should have an idea of your spending habits and travel style. This will allow you to put together a rough budget of expenses for the number of days away and you can plan on saving some money each month in preparation. Saving money each month can be achieved by following these few simple guidelines.
· List for a few weeks everything that you spend, you will be amazed at where your money is going,
· Set up a separate bank account for your holiday and have a set amount of money put in there each month. If saving over a long period, invest chunks into higher yield term deposits,
· Any work bonuses, tax refunds or money wind falls of any kind, put them straight into your holiday account – you hadn’t budgeted on these so you don’t need them for day to day living,
· Use credit cards to your advantage but pay off the balance in full at the end of each month,
· Cut your daily expenses such as, coffee, lunches, cigarettes, alcohol. Make your own coffee (so many of us have coffee machines at home – use them!), bring your own lunches – make extra for dinner and take left-overs or spend a few minutes making a sandwich or salad , entertain at home (costs much lower than eating and drinking out). Over a 48-week working year this really adds up!,
· Don’t buy the latest season’s clothes and shoes as soon as they come out, wait a few weeks and the stores will be having sales and you can save at least 30%,
· Ask yourself constantly, “Do I really need this”? Perhaps even wait a day or so and re-visit the item you though you really had to have and relate the cost to some part of your trip – that could be another night of accommodation, a day whale watching, a nice meal out or for shopping while away,
· Sell any unwanted/unused items laying around and put money into your holiday savings account,
· Give your services or skills as a gift instead of buying expensive presents,
· Get your whole family or travel group on board so you help each other save and
· Check regularly the balance of your travel saving account – you will be inspired to see how quickly it grows!
With a little bit of careful planning and creative thinking your next holiday could be even bigger and better with these imaginative ways to save up for that trip.
5 Steps to Dramatically Cut the Cost of your Holidays!
– Research on-line and at travel agencies, the prices do vary greatly and on-line is not always the most economical. Travel agents will often come up with a wider range of options, particularly if you are travelling to multiple destinations. Look out for “Special Offers” and snap up any suitable options when you see them as they generally have limited availability and are only on sale for a restricted time frame.
– Ask questions, think of all the ways your itinerary can be constructed, sometimes by changing the order of your itinerary this can result in a lower cost fare. Make your travel agent really work for their commission! Don’t accept options that are not exactly what you had in mind.
– Book off-peak and mid-week if possible. Generally Friday, Saturday and Sunday attract additional supplements. Try and travel outside the holiday and peak periods, even a few days either side of these can vary the price significantly. The rule of thumb if you have to travel at these peak times is to book well in advance. The cheapest tickets and deals get snapped up quickly on a first come first served basis so book early to avoid disappointment. That said, as the departure date nears, last minute unsold tickets will often get heavily discounted to fill the seats. As a result you can occasionally come across some fantastic bargains. This is very risky if you have set dates you must travel, but offers great savings if you are very flexible with when and where you travel.
– Transfers – now this is where you can really save some dollars. Instead of booking transfers through your travel agent, research other independent options available. A quick internet search will tell you if there are shuttles, trains or buses from the airport to the city. Check also the average cost of a taxi to the city and finally, ask at your hotel if they have any sort of shuttle service – even low cost backpacker places offer these in a lot of places. Using available public transport or arranging transfers locally will usually always save you some dollars.
– Research your travel insurance! – Firstly, shop around! A quick search on the internet will throw up several insurance comparison sites. Remember that if you are likely to travel more than once a year, you will save yourself money by buying annual, multi-trip insurance, as opposed to a single trip policy. Also, check with your credit card company as some have travel insurance policies included when you purchase a certain dollar value of your travel arrangements with the card. Ensure that the cover they offer is adequate for you requirements. Also consider obtaining quotes from companies that you have existing insurance policies with, such as; home and contents, car or private health insurance companies. You will often receive significant savings when you take out multiple policies with the one company.
Travelling is seen as a luxury item when we are going through hard times financially and as something that the average person feels they can’t afford. It really doesn’t have to be such a big expense, there are many ways that a holiday can be constructed to be cost effective and family friendly, yes – even to international destinations!
For more information on ways to afford that important break away, contact Julie Warner Travel Plans: www.juliewarnertravelplans.com.