I’ve been travelling actively for a decade and when given a choice, I’ll always go during the spring or fall. There’s one simple reason why I choose to travel at these times of the year – costs. I have consistently been able to get better value by travelling during the low season.
You see, the summer is peak season for travel. The weather tends to be better, and many more families are travelling since the kids are out of school. The tourism industry knows this and charges accordingly. It’s supply and demand, so of course, I’ll travel when it’s cheaper when I can. Plus, I much rather travel when there are fewer tourists around.
Here’s why timing matters when it comes to travel:
Peak season explained
Peak season commonly refers to just the summer, but a better description would be any time where there are more tourists expected than normal. For example, holidays / long weekends are always considered the peak season. Think Canada Day, Christmas, and New Years. During these times, prices for hotels and airfare can spike quite a bit.
Major events in a city are also considered peak season so if you plan on heading to Hong Kong for the Lunar festival or even New York during fashion week, expect costs to go up.
Every city and country have different peak seasons, so you’ll need to do a little bit of research to find the perfect timing.
The weather may not matter
Understandably, whenever you travel, you want ideal weather conditions, but how often does that happen? I can only think of one trip I’ve taken during my entire life where I had clear skies and sun every day during my trip. Mind you, I always travel during the low season, so maybe that has something to do with the luck I’ve had.
Now, we know that travelling during the low season will save us money, but what are you willing to put up with? The rainy season in Thailand technically lasts from May to November, but do you think it rains every day? Of course not. It depends on the month and the region you’ll be in.
Alternatively, if you’re visiting a destination that’s hot year round (like Florida), it makes way more sense to travel during the low season. Wouldn’t you rather visit Disney World when there aren’t many lines at the theme parks, and hotel prices are lower?
Saving on flights and accommodations
Without a doubt, the money you can save on flights and hotels makes travelling during the low season worthwhile. Just recently my wife and I found flights to Portugal in February for $550 per person. The same flights in August would have cost us closer to $800 each. That’s $500 we saved combined!
Although the savings on flights can be a fair amount, I should note that you will almost always have fewer options when travelling during the low season. Many airlines only fly certain routes during the peak season, so you do need to have some flexibility. The good thing news is that during shoulder season, you shouldn’t have any problems finding flights that work for you.
When it comes to accommodations, this is where you can save big. As mentioned, everything is based on supply and demand, but with accommodations, there is so much more competition. Not only are hotels competing with each other, but they also need to worry about Airbnb. I’ve found accommodations to be about 25% – 40% cheaper during the low season compared to the peak. Many hotels will even throw in extra perks such as free breakfast or shuttle service.
To be realistic, you should always try to travel during the low season when you can. Not only will you save a decent amount of money, but you may also avoid huge crowds of tourists. Of course, with that money saved, you can spend it on travelling more.