By Rosanne Coloccia
Preferred Travel Services
It’s often said while much of the country enjoys a four season year, we in the Valley of the Sun have only two – “beautiful” and “inferno.” But did you know the travel world has three?
Wait…three? Yep. Three seasons of travel (“high,” “low,” and “shoulder”) are a thing – and a great thing for you!
It may be tough to remember cooler weather is coming when we’re still firmly in Inferno territory, the signs my favorite travel season – shoulder – is approaching are there, even if, at this point, they exist primarily in the fact Arizona Cardinals training camp opens soon. I think we’re all looking forward to that time when mornings are crisp and, and like the leaves (in some parts of the country, anyway), travel rates are falling!
Fall is considered “shoulder season” for many popular vacation destinations – and we aren’t just talking fashion statements! Long known in the travel industry as the time between high and low seasons, the shoulder season is a great time to snag a good deal for many destinations.
So when is shoulder season? It depends on several factors – events, traditional school and work holidays, etc., but like high and low season is primarily based on weather. Where will you find the shoulders for your favorite vacation spot? Let’s look at some popular destinations for folks from Arizona:
Hawaii – We’re lucky to have reasonably priced flights to this very popular destination year around, but you’ll still find some of the best rates in September, October and November, plus April and May. The crowds really drop after Labor Day and stay that way until Thanksgiving and Christmas. After the Spring Break and Easter holidays, rates usually stay good until Memorial Day, the traditional start of the family and honeymoon vacation season, when rates soar.
Europe – A tough one, as it varies by country. For example, Italy has such lovely weather throughout the Fall, you won’t see the shoulder rates until late October and November. England and Ireland have short shoulders – pretty much October and April. Low season for those countries begins in November and goes through March. Higher rates start to kick in for May and June, then soar for July, August and September. France has shoulders in October and April, then the nice rates stay until mid-June when their high season rates kick in.
Mexico – This depends on which coast you’re considering. The Caribbean and Gulf Coast areas most affected by storms will have shoulder season in November and then again in April and May. Cancun in particular will see rates start to creep up at the end of hurricane season, stay high through the holidays and on into the Spring Break weeks, then drop a bit for late spring. On the Pacific Coast, especially at places like Los Cabos, the rates go up in the late Fall as the warm weather becomes more bearable. They’ll drop again after the Spring Break period before picking up again for summer.
One thing to keep in mind – summer is high season everywhere but here. Even in places like Mexico and the Caribbean, where the heat and humidity can be uncomfortable, rates still go up because that’s when people have the time to travel. Family vacationers and honeymooners will fill up the hotels and cruise liners with or without bargain prices – mostly without.
So let’s hear it for those shoulders – a great time to find a vacation value!
Rosanne Coloccia is a travel writer, travel lover, and travel veteran, having been a part of the industry, as both agent and explorer, for the better part of 19 years. Contact her at Preferred Travel Services, 602-603-9300, or at Rosanne@preferredtravelservices.com
You may remember Rosanne Coloccia as "the travel lady" on KTVK's top-rated Good Morning Arizona, where she brought you travel tips and destination information for more than 14 years. She is delighted to once again be part of the travel industry that she loves, and Preferred Travel Services is more than delighted to have her on our team.