How To Pick Your Favorite Travel Season

By thistlesandcoos | Feb 28, 2020
North America > United States

Don't listen to what they say, go see.
~Chinese proverb

Austria in January

Austria in January

The Traveling Seasons

There are 4 major questions you must answer when planning your travels:

  • Where do you want to go?
  • Who do you want to travel with you?
  • When do you want to visit?
  • How will you get there?


Understand what shapes the information that shapes your travel dreams.
~Rick Steves

Inner Hebrides

Inner Hebrides

Be ready to answer these questions as you begin to plan your adventure.

When do you prefer traveling?

  • In the winter months when snow can get up to your knees?
  • In the Fall when the leaves are changing?
  • How about in the early summer when most people take their vacations?

Take out a piece of blank paper with pen in hand and let’s start planning. We are going to narrow down and decide when you want to go. Time to start jotting down ideas…

The Kelpies

The Kelpies

There are 3 seasons of the travel year we want you to consider

  • Peak season: Mid-June to August
  • Shoulder season: April to mid-June and September to October
  • Off season: November to March


Salzburg in June

Salzburg in June

Peak Season

In July and August, expect high temperatures… especially in the south.

Bring your water bottles When visiting Rome, you can fill up with crystal clear water from unique nasoni fountains located all over the city. The fountains are the only reason we survived during a brutal summer in Rome.

Know there will be crowds in most European cities. Before we traveled to London, we purchased the London Pass.

The London Pass works like a “fast pass” and you have access to numerous attractions, free admission and sometimes you jump the line. Buckingham Palace, for one, has long lines, having the London Pass allows you to bypass the ticket line and entry at the front of the line.

Prices are higher than the other seasons. Understand this is when many businesses earn their wages. Be ready to pay more for accommodations and travel.

We stayed in a penthouse apartment in Austria during the off season. Great LOW price. This same apartment during peak season is triple the price.

Longer days. The weather is ideal and picturesque during the summer. Long days. Perfect to be outside.

Know when to book your airline travel. Book early enough in advance, at least six weeks out, to ensure that you are getting the best price. If your airline has check-in twenty four hours before take off, go to seatguru.com to look at the seat maps. Before booking your seat, pick the seat that works best for you.

Our friend was showing us around her Austrian village at 10:00pm in late June and the sun was just beginning to go down. Not only does dusk happen late in the evening, but the sun rises early in peak season.

Kids are off for summer holiday and this makes traveling with them more accessible. Keep in mind, this is when other families are traveling with their children too.

Be prepared.

Callander in October

Callander in October

Shoulder Season

Milder temperatures Outdoor restaurant seating, wearing layers, not being so dang hot. Be prepared in the early mornings and after dusk, it can be COLD.

We remember an early morning trip to Hadrian’s Wall… Natalie’s sister froze. She was wrapped in layers and finally had to stand under the bathroom’s hand dryer for ten minutes to warm up. One hour later, weather warmed slightly and the layers came off. Layers are essential during this season.

While we were in Scotland, in one day, it sleeted, rained, snowed, and the sun shone enough that we were taking off layers. We experienced four seasons in a twelve hour period. Prepare. A good raincoat should suffice for windy cooler temperatures.

Prices are typically less than peak season. Check out airline websites too. They need you to continue to travel during slower seasons.

We were able to get two free nights at a nice London hotel and also had an upgrade to premium economy for the price of an economy ticket.

Shorter lines and less crowded

More availability When we were in Oban, Scotland, we learned that we would be sharing a co-ed hostel dorm when we were hoping for private. Um.. nope.

Quickly, we got online and were able, in one minute, to book a BnB in Callander. Any other time, we would have been S.O.L because places sell out quickly during peak season.

Enjoy the sun. The days aren’t quite as long as the peak season but are still lovely. In northern Scotland, wake up before the sun rises.

Train ride through Austria in January

Train ride through Austria in January

Off Season

Winter days are short. Weather can be moody. Expect it to be dark by 5:00pm We are from Tennessee, so this is nothing new for us. Throw a torch in your purse and you are good to go.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the area you plan to travel, because some attractions have limited hours or close down for this season. Research the local’s websites.

Make notes of what is open during the time you are traveling. Otherwise it will be like the time we traveled to Fort William, UK and we had a difficult time finding a place to stay because everything was closed for the holiday. We ended up emailing about 50 different B&B’s to find one. It was worth the work and we had an amazing adventure.

Prices can be VERYYY low, so take advantage. Start researching your flights. You may even find a one-way flight from New York to Dublin for under $100.00.

Dress for the weather and drafty hotels. Pack base layers if you get chilled easily. Wool-blend socks pack easily and keep your feet warm and dry.

Our best practice for dressing for the weather is layers. Don’t get caught off guard and then have to spend your money on gloves.. hats.. umbrellas.. extra layers while on vacation.

Hallstatt in September

Hallstatt in September

Now look at your paper, what are your ideas?

WHEN do you want to travel?

Comment below why you chose “your” season of travel.

Peak Season Off Season Shoulder Season

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Written by thistlesandcoos
Natalie and Connie have been providing people with travel services, itineraries, advice, cultural insight and important tips when traveling. Thistles and Coos invites you to join in on our journey to appreciate the beautiful world and the amazing people it contains. #travelsimpler

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