Weather or Not: How to Book Better Shoulder Season Trips

Weather or Not: How to Book Better Shoulder Season Trips

Avoiding peak travel season is one of the best ways to save money on your next vacation. Still, visiting Norway in January is not everyone’s idea of ​​a good time, even if the plane ticket is cheap.

It’s there that travel in shoulder seasons Happens: Those tourist seasons that fall on either side of peak travel dates have fewer crowds, more availability and, most importantly, lower prices. This differs from off-season, when some businesses or experiences may be closed to visitors entirely.

For example, hotel prices in Maui fell $365 per night between the summer and fall peak of 2022, according to data from travel booking platform Hopper. These lower prices can have a huge impact on your overall budget.

Remote and flexible work also enhanced the appeal of the shoulder season. Data from AirDNA, a vacation rental data platform, shows that “peak” demand for vacation rentals has extended into shoulder seasons throughout the pandemic.

But not all shoulder seasons are created equal. Camping in Glacier National Park in the fall may seem like a great way to avoid the crowds, until you realize the low temperatures are already veering to freezing point in October. Some shoulder seasons offer ideal conditions for travelling, others less so.

Here’s how to find a Boucle d’Or spot: neither too hot nor too cold.

Use a good weather resource all year round

Let’s say you’re planning a trip to japan and you want to avoid peak travel season in the summer, but aren’t sure if spring or fall offer better weather. You can simply look up Tokyo’s year-round temperatures to get a rough estimate, or you can dive a level deeper with a bit of weather nerdness.
A good resource for this is called Weather Spark. It’s a bit clunky and ad-packed, but it includes extremely useful data visualizations to make sense of how the weather at a particular destination is changing from month to month.

Although flight prices are higher during the summer, a Weather Spark chart of Tokyo’s weather shows that it’s actually a lousy time to visit Japan due to the high temperatures and humidity. Both decrease, but humidity remains high in September and relatively low in May.

Also consider the data in the “cover” section. If clear skies are something you enjoy while traveling, then early fall offers more than late summer, despite more precipitation in fall.

The math ultimately comes down to personal preference, which is why having all of these data points is so useful. If you don’t mind the rain, you could save money by traveling during a period of heavy rainfall and moderate temperatures. If you hate humidity and like the sun, you can target the corresponding months.

Check and ask on forums

Data doesn’t always tell the whole story. For example, checking the weather in Maui, Hawaii can be extremely misleading because the island has many microclimates, which can see completely different patterns throughout the year and even on the same day. Ditto for the California Bay Area, where fog and cold in San Francisco can give way to hot sunshine a few miles to the south or east.

Asking someone who has visited your destination — either a friend or, say, a group of strangers on a message board — can prevent some data disasters.

For example, a Tripadvisor thread on the question of the best time to visit Japan included this response: “October and May after ‘Golden Week’ are the best time to visit Japan, neither too hot nor too cold. ”

What is this “Golden Week”? Sounds good, right? It’s actually a week of public holidays in Japan and a difficult time to travel due to closures and domestic tourists.

Another example is fire season in the American West, where the weather may look ideal on paper but can be sweltering on the ground.

Basically, it’s a good idea to check with a real human rather than making a decision based on data alone. Other forums you can turn to include Reddit, Quora, or Frommer’s.

Do not worry

Peak travel seasons are usually that way for a reason: they are the mildest time and most travelers have time off. So those who choose a shoulder season looking for thinner crowds and cheaper rates can expect a few raindrops now and then, or the occasional typhoon (early fall is typhoon season in Japan, by the way).

Every peak season has two shoulders, and it’s all about finding the one that matches your own weather preferences. Are cloudy days prohibited? Or do you prefer them for better photo lighting?

It all comes down to personal taste.

But don’t let data on websites like Weather Spark make the decision for you. Microclimates, holidays, and other unforeseen variables can also impact your trip. Ask around or check message boards before choosing shoulders. And bring a raincoat in any case.

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            Sam Kemmis writes for NerdWallet.  Email: [email protected]  Twitter: @samsambutdif.

        </aside><p class="nw-originally-posted-link">The article Weather or Not: How to Book a Better Shoulder Season Trip originally appeared on NerdWallet.

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