Most destinations have a high season and a low season for their tourist industry. A shoulder season is when a destination is either going into or coming out of their high season. Travelling during the shoulder season could be the smartest decision you make, however there are a couple of cons to consider along with the pros.


You can get more value out of your holiday by making your travel budget stretch further. Having the same travel budget during shoulder season and peak season can mean a better hotel room or a longer stay during shoulder season. When we travelled to Asia, we went during their shoulder season and stayed in some fantastic hotels – the bathroom in our hotel in Bangkok had glass for the entire wall! We are hoping it was just one-way glass but we were very high up and we couldn’t easily check!

Travelling during the shoulder season means that you will not experience the same crowds that you would during peak season. This spills over into every aspect of your holiday including your hotel. More of the better rooms will be available and there is also a higher chance of an upgrade when a hotel is not at full capacity. Reservations at restaurants will be easier to get as well as any shows or excursions you want to take. After I graduated from high school, my mum and I went on a cruise around Australia during their shoulder season. Even though we booked our cruise later than we normally would, we still managed to get tickets to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I have no doubt it would have been a lot more difficult to book this activity during their high season!

High tourist season can also affect the locals. When I lived in York, England, there were times when I would avoid areas because of the tourists. Travelling during shoulder season could mean more interaction with the locals.

During the shoulder season, some seasonal activities may not be available (more about this in the cons) however you will have opportunities to try something that you may not have tried. A great example of this is our week in Park City in Utah where there was no snow to ski on and it was too muddy to mountain bike. Chances are if we had visited during ski season, we would have just gone skiing (and enjoyed it no doubt!); however we ended up taking a historical food tour with Gourmand Tours, which I highly recommend, and a tour of Olympic Park, two things that may not have even been on our radar and yet we thoroughly enjoyed. There are also skiing destinations that have shoulder seasons where you get a much better value and the skiing is still great. You just have to know where to find them and thankfully we have the tools at our fingertips to do that.


As I have just mentioned, some activities may be closed during a shoulder season. We had friends visit from England last year and there were so many activities and tours that hadn’t opened yet! We still found things to do but it took more planning and thought. Also keep in mind if you are visiting a destination specifically for an activity and the activity isn’t running during their shoulder season, you will be bitterly disappointed no matter how much you saved by travelling during the shoulder season.

Even restaurants and stores can take time off during their low season and may not open until closer to the high season.

There is always a reason why there is a low season and more often than not it has something to do with the weather. The Caribbean’s low season is, unsurprisingly, during their hurricane season and the shoulder season can catch the beginning or the end of the hurricane season. A destination can also experience a low season because it’s too hot or it’s the rainy season. During our trip to Asia, we had a little more rain than if we had travelled during high season but it was well worth it because we had great weather the majority of the time, and I remember staying in some fantastic hotel rooms.

Of course, you have no say in when a destination’s shoulder season is and so if it doesn’t fall within school holidays, and you are tied to school holidays, then you may be out of luck. However, the world is so large and yet extremely accessible that there are without a doubt destinations with a shoulder season that can fit in perfectly with your plans.

After taking a look at the pros and cons, you can probably tell that a little research can go a long way and with some help, you can find the best time to visit a destination where you will get the best value out of your travel dollars all while enjoying less crowds, greater availability and almost perfect weather.

About the Author

Rhian Torontow is a Family Travel Consultant with Magical Family Adventures. Rhian creates travel experiences that foster connections in your family that will last a lifetime and transforms your children into open-minded, flexible, well-travelled people. During Rhian’s childhood, her father travelled for work constantly and it was always travel that brought her family back together. You can follow Rhian on Facebook at, Instagram @MagicalFamilyAdventures and you can also connect with her on LinkedIn