Take Advantage of Shoulder Season Travel Deals 2024

The holiday travel season will soon be upon us, with its crowded airports, expensive flights, and marked-up hotel rates. But did you know that right now we’re smack dab in the middle of an insider travel hack called “shoulder season”? I must confess, until recently I had no idea what it even meant.

As travel expert Emily Kaufman explained on a recent talk show segment, shoulder season refers to the window of time between peak summer travel ending after Labor Day weekend and the hectic Thanksgiving-to-New Years holiday stretch. It’s called “shoulder season” as a reference to fall’s cooler temperatures where you need a light cover for your shoulders before bundling up for winter. Clever name for clever savings!

Why Shoulder Season Rocks

why shoulder season rocks

So what makes shoulder season so special for travelers? Emily broke down some of the key benefits:

  • Deals and discounts galore. With fewer tourists crowding popular destinations, providers offer incentives like discounted airfare, hotel rates, activities and even all-inclusive packages to lure visitors. We’re talking savings of 20-30% or more!
  • Better weather than winter. Summertime heat and humidity is gone, but old man winter hasn’t yet reared his ugly head. Expect pleasant temps and smaller crowds at outdoor attractions.
  • Less crowded destinations. Since school is back in session, families with kids make up fewer travelers right now. Tourist hotspots are less packed, with smaller lines, quicker service and more availability.
  • Unique attractions and festivals. Shoulder season is a popular time for some destinations to host annual culinary, wine, music and arts festivals when the weather is mild and crowds are manageable.

Killer Shoulder Season Travel Deals

To take advantage of shoulder season perks, Emily suggests considering popular destinations like Mexico and Hawaii. She gave examples of specific airfare and hotel deals that made my wallet happy:

  • Flights from Atlanta to Cancun dropping from $711 in peak summer to $254 in early November
  • An all-inclusive stay at Dreams Natura resort in Riviera Cancun, including accommodations, food, drinks, activities and more
  • Fares from Dallas to Maui slashed from $902 in summer to $454 in November
  • Special shoulder season packages at Hawaii’s luxurious Fairmont Orchid, like complimentary breakfast, cultural classes and snorkel gear rental

Pro Travel Tips

Since this is my first shoulder season adventure, I asked Emily to share some tips to make the most of the deals:

  • Be flexible with dates to maximize flight and hotel discounts
  • Check lesser-known islands in Hawaii for fewer crowds and costs
  • Snag an all-inclusive resort stay to contain expenses into one bundled rate
  • Hold off booking winter holiday flights until after shoulder season deals end
  • Follow Emily on Instagram @thetravelmom for more timely insider tips!

So now that you’re a shoulder season convert like me, where will you travel this fall? I don’t know about you, but after all this talk of México and Mai Tais, I’m ready to grab my swimsuit and sunscreen for one last tropical hurrah! Just don’t forget the light sweater for those cooler shoulder season evenings.

About the Author

My name is Kelly and I’m a lifestyle blogger with a passion for travel, food and fashion on a budget. After spending too many summers fighting peak season crowds and prices, I’m excited to embrace shoulder season deals to Mexico, Hawaii and beyond. When I’m not blogging or scoping out the latest flight discount, you can find me thrift store treasure hunting, attempting new DIY projects or taste testing vegan recipes. Say hi and let me know YOUR shoulder season travel plans on social media!

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