Shoulder Season is like Goldilocks. It is not too hot and not too cold in most of the world, with often not too many crowds and not too terrible prices. Kids are in school, so mid-career professionals can often capitalize on their vacation bidding at this time. Some pilots and flight attendants may even be able to take an entire month off, sometime after Labor Day and before Thanksgiving, if they fly until the FAA tells them to rest throughout the summer.
There are some exceptions to shoulder season. These include travels for festivals and holidays, such as the Christmas markets in Europe or the Easter processions, like in the south of Spain. Also, the poles often offer something special in their extremes - winter or summer. Places like Iceland and Norway offer the midnight sun in the summer and the Northern Lights in the winter. On the other side, Antarctica can only be accessed by cruise ships in their summer season of mid/late November through February or perhaps early March.
In our first piece on travel planning, we discuss the who, what, and where for you to optimize your time and money and capitalize on your feelings and memories.
Who is going?
We are going to break it down into three categories of trips:
There are costs and benefits to each of the above, which we will discover in a later post. Generally speaking, the more people in the group, the more planning you will want to do.
I arrived, solo, in Nepal, with a one-way ticket and zero reservations. Angel and I traveled together, to Iceland, with a confirmed car rental and return plane ticket, but no hotel reservations. For next month's trip to Argentina, our family party of six is confirming all planes, hotels, and cars in advance, with fully-refundable options because 2/3 of our group is flying standby throughout the country.
This question is actually best preceded by, "How do you want to feel?"
Then follow-up with, "What do you want to do?"
These questions are important because you can have radically different experiences in the same place based on how you want to feel and the decisions that follow. Answering these questions honestly will help you to feel like you are not missing out. We can become overwhelmed so easily because of the wealth of information that is available.
Many people think of Ibiza as the party island. On our trip, last July, we did not visit any of the clubs. Instead, we explored one to two beaches a day, punctuated by long, slow meals and lots of salty kisses and sandy toes. We missed nothing. That's because we choose activities around how we wanted to feel. Missing something is based on a feeling, not an activity. - Click to tweet!
Your desired feelings will often vary between solo, couple, and family trips.
Use your answers to how you want to feel and what you want to do to determine where you want to go.
If you have little to no preference in destination, your dates are somewhere flexible, and cost is your prime variable, you can visit kayak.com/buzz to find the cheapest flights from your home airport to a variety of destinations.
In determining where you want to go, consider this:
Once you have the big picture on time and activities, research the following, in order:
For our upcoming trip to Argentina, we know our international flight arrives early in the morning, allowing for a full day of exploring Buenos Aires, with time for a siesta between slow travel and great dining.
Land Travel Time
We will be driving between El Calafate and El Chalten. The drive is 3 hours, but we will allow for photos along the way. We will travel back to El Calafate the last night so we do not have to rush to the airport in the morning.
Hotels and Excursions
We book these last, as there are often many more options than with flights, so that we can find the most economical combination. We already have an idea of the excursions, if any, that interest us, after having answered, "what we want to do." Sometimes it is worth calling the hotels to get quotes on the excursions. The more remote the area, the fewer options will be available online. Excursions are great if special equipment or vehicles are needed. Otherwise, considering just researching the excursions and using them as templates for do-it-yourself adventures.
We are here to help you plan your travels. Contact us for inquires.
Christine & Angel
Aisle or window
He likes the window; she likes the aisle. Match made at FL350. Here are some other travel preferences. Full disclaimer: These are affiliate links, meaning the authors are rewarded for referrals (usually in the form of a credit to use more of the product/service themselves). Pinky promise: Recommendations are simply the best.
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When we are not hitchhiking through the airport and landing in foreign lands, Christine is teaching English in Spain. She also offers classes via Skype, allowing you to learn from the comfort of your home, with flexible scheduling. Click the photo below for more information.
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Airbnb is the preferred accomodation for Christine & Angel when they want to connect with locals, want to keep their entire group under one roof with the privacy of separate bedrooms, or when staying in a place known for expensive hotels. Click here or on the photo below to save on your first stay.
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Make your travels meaningful with Pack for a Purpose. Simply use a small amount of space in your luggage to pack supplies needed by community projects around the world. Click the photo below to find a project in your destination.