Cheap tickets are on the radar of every traveller, be for Goa or Paris. The period between November-end to mid-December is known as the shoulder season in many parts of the world when the fares are relatively lower. “The tourist footfall to popular destinations is also low, which allows one to immerse in the native experience,” says Sunil Gupta, managing director and CEO, Avis India.
He tells indianexpress.com, “It is recommended to visit popular destinations such as Kerala, Hampi and Coorg in the southern part of India, while in the West, destinations like Mumbai, Goa, Lavasa and Khandala are favourites. One can also explore several hill stations in Himachal Pradesh; those interested in history and scenic beauty can visit Tawang, Kaziranga National Park, to name a few. The US, Europe, South Africa and New Zealand are also ideal during the shoulder season.”
A shoulder season falls between the peak and off-peak travel seasons. In India, this typically means the travel period between August 1 and August 30, November 15 and December 10, and December 26 and January 24.
Travelling during the shoulder season is growing in popularity, and with good reason. “It is a great time for price-conscious travellers to go on their dream vacation without hurting their finances,” says Rahul Singh, CEO and founder, Ithaka.
For Indian travellers, he recommends visiting Bali and Thailand during this period. “The cost of hotels, resorts, local experience, etc, are at their lowest and you’ll find that the number of tourists is quite low. Bali has leaner crowds and heavily discounted prices in November and December, making for a fulfilling vacation. Thailand has its shoulder season during June and July. I must add here that Thailand’s weather is a bit more eccentric, and varies across regions. But that also means, because of the lower cost, you can customise/personalise your trip extensively,” Singh mentions.
Besides the low flight fares, the shoulder season ensures a cheap stay at fairly good hotels and the climate is pleasant to take on various outdoor activities. However, it requires some good planning, as with any travel in general.
“What might be a shoulder season in one part of the country might be a peak season in the other. In addition, even during the shoulder period, rates may vary between weekdays and weekends for accommodation and local attractions; multiple factors determine flight fares,” points out Ankit Rastogi, head of accommodation and activities, Cleartrip.
Varun Chadha, CEO, Tirun mentions that there is a trend of DINKS (Double Income, No Kids) taking short holidays multiple times in a year, senior citizen groups enjoying their time off with peers and the celebratory groups taking holidays on events which make up for an entire year of holidaying. “A great domestic example is of Goa, there’s no more a season with tourists flocking even in the monsoon,” he states.
Considering that many sections of people take short holidays multiple times a year like Chadha mentions, is shoulder season worth waiting for? “Yes, travelling in the shoulder season is a great way to tick off the items on your bucket list,” says Singh.
Depending on varying shoulder seasons, here are top picks to make your travel plans in India and abroad, from Ankit Rastogi, head of accommodation and activities, Cleartrip.
Broadly speaking, Europe experiences two shoulder seasons — September to November, and April to early June. Travellers can enjoy the relatively mild weather and make the most of the blossoms all around, while not needing to stand in long queues to enjoy local attractions. In addition, accommodation facilities offer some great rates this time of the year.
March till mid-May and September are considered the shoulder months in Egypt. With pleasant temperatures during the day along with warm seas, leisure activities like sunbathing, snorkelling and swimming can be enjoyed to the fullest.
Fall (March-May) and Spring (September-November) are considered shoulder seasons in New Zealand. The shoulder period of fall can be spellbinding for nature lovers, when intricate cloud formations and blossoms abound. Experiencing the quaint outdoors of New Zealand is much easier on the pocket, with the price of local commute options like camper vans and cabs on the lower side.
Travellers in just before winter in Northern part of India can not only enjoy the serenity of the place but also make the most of the Tibetan tourist shopping lanes in McLeodganj. In addition, adventure lovers can enjoy a trek with more scope for solitude at the Triund and Lakha trails as the tourists haven’t flocked in yet and the snowline is still at a comfortable altitude.
May marks the shoulder period in Kerala and is considered the apt time to visit as it is less crowded. The rains are yet to set and the weather is still cooler than months to come. It not only offers solace but also makes up for perfect rejuvenation with Kerala’s traditional Ayurveda treatments at comparatively more attractive rates.
August marks the shoulder season of this erstwhile French colony beach town located in the southern part of the Indian peninsula. As the peak season with foreign tourist arrival is yet to start, you get some great rates on accommodation options and lesser crowds in restaurants to experience some marvellous French bakeries. In addition, the picturesque streets in French architecture style buildings offer even great potential for some great Insta worthy pictures during the shoulder period with fewer tourists around.
While Goa is loved for its beaches, it makes for a great visit during the monsoons as well. The shoulder season is from mid-June to October. During this time, besides the best deals for accommodation, one can also enjoy some great nature trails and waterfalls including the famous Dudhsagar in adjacent vicinities.
Monsoons cast a charm to the City of Lakes, Udaipur. And though this is not the peak summer season, it makes for a good time to capture the picturesque city. Hotel rates are competitive and the rainfall is moderate during the shoulder season lasting from July to September. It is the best time to experience the beauty of this city of lakes. July presents a good time to explore the Aravalli hills. Soaked in green, the Kumbhalgarh sanctuary in the vicinity and Mount Abu are an added charm for nature inclined travellers.
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