Save Your Pennies and Travel the World: The Cheapest Months to Visit Top Destinations
Save Your Pennies and Travel the World: The Cheapest Months to Visit Top Destinations - Low Season in Europe: When to Go for Deals
Europe is a perennially popular destination, with good reason. The history, culture, cuisine, art and architecture make it endlessly fascinating. But peak season crowds and prices can put a damper on European vacations. Luckily, traveling during shoulder and low seasons opens the doors to huge savings on airfare and accommodations without sacrificing on experience.
Shoulder seasons in Europe run from March to May and September to November. This is when the weather is mild, and crowds are smaller as Europe transitions between high and low seasons. Airfares drop by 20-40% compared to summer. Hotel rates can be 30-50% lower. An ideal time to explore European cities, shoulder seasons mean fewer lines at museums and attractions. Popular destinations feel less choked with tourists.
While December through February is low season, don’t let winter deter you from a European adventure. The holiday markets and festive atmosphere bring their own magic. And the savings are even more substantial than shoulder season – we’re talking 50-70% drops in airfare and hotel rates.
Bundle up to experience Christmas markets in Germany, ice skating in front of the Eiffel Tower, or admiring the Northern Lights in Iceland and Norway. Milder coastal destinations like Spain, Portugal, and Greece still enjoy pleasant weather for exploring. With smaller crowds, touring iconic sites like the Alhambra in Granada or the Acropolis is a breeze.
Saving the most for late fall, winter and early spring travel does require flexibility. Be ready to work around school breaks and holidays when demand spikes. And some attractions may have reduced hours or closures. But the trade-off is having these incredible destinations nearly to yourself, at a fraction of the cost.
Embrace the off-season by planning activities around the weather and daylight. Focus on museums, galleries, architecture and indoor sights. Spend more time at cozy cafes and restaurants. Take advantage of winter sports like skiing and ice skating. Rent a car to explore smaller towns and the countryside.
With the right mindset, low season in Europe offers a uniquely charming experience. The holidays bring festive cheer. Winter days invite slowing down to appreciate subtle beauties. Smaller crowds let you connect more deeply with each destination. And having Europe practically to yourself is an unbeatable perk.
What else is in this post?
- Save Your Pennies and Travel the World: The Cheapest Months to Visit Top Destinations - Low Season in Europe: When to Go for Deals
- Save Your Pennies and Travel the World: The Cheapest Months to Visit Top Destinations - Skip the Summer Crowds in Asia
- Save Your Pennies and Travel the World: The Cheapest Months to Visit Top Destinations - Shoulder Season Savings in the Caribbean
- Save Your Pennies and Travel the World: The Cheapest Months to Visit Top Destinations - Booking Fall and Winter Getaways to Hawaii
- Save Your Pennies and Travel the World: The Cheapest Months to Visit Top Destinations - Chase the Sun South During Winter
- Save Your Pennies and Travel the World: The Cheapest Months to Visit Top Destinations - Find Airfare Sales in the Off-Peak Months
- Save Your Pennies and Travel the World: The Cheapest Months to Visit Top Destinations - Use Holidays to Your Budget's Advantage
Save Your Pennies and Travel the World: The Cheapest Months to Visit Top Destinations - Skip the Summer Crowds in Asia
Asia dazzles travelers with its diversity of landscapes, cultures, and experiences. From the electric energy of Tokyo to the tranquility of Cambodia's Angkor Wat, Asia offers endless possibilities. However, Asia's popularity comes at a price during the summer high season. Overcrowding, inflated hotel rates, packed transportation - summer visitors must battle the crowds.
Luckily for the savvy traveler, visiting Asia during shoulder and low seasons provides similar rewards without the hassles. Jacobi always says, "Avoid the crowds, avoid the wows." By planning trips between June-August, you can soak up Asia's magic in peace.
Fall shoulder season of September-November sees pleasant weather and far fewer tourists. Like Europe, airfares and hotels offer 20-40% discounts. Popular destinations feel spacious again. In China, marvel at the Great Wall with elbow room. Wander through Bangkok's Grand Palace courtyards and open-air markets without jostling past selfie sticks. Watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat minus the crowds.
With mild temperatures, fall is ideal for outdoor activities. Go hiking in Nepal's Annapurna Circuit amidst brilliant foliage. Ride a motorcycle through Vietnam's winding coastal and highland roads. Try Korean temple food while the chill permeates Seoul's ancient Buddhist sites.
Winter low season means even bigger savings, around 50-70% lower rates on airfare and hotels. December-February offers cultural celebrations like Chinese New Year, ideal for experiencing Asian traditions. While some mountainous areas get cold, southern destinations stay pleasant. Trade summer's humidity for crisp days exploring Hindu temples in Bali and jungle-shrouded ruins in Cambodia.
Sure, winter has some limitations. Trekkers should opt for lower elevation hikes, and rain often lingers across southeast Asia. But the benefits outweigh any inconveniences. Yogyakarta's Buddhist temple of Borobudur, overwhelmingly crowded in summer, becomes meditative without the masses. Shop stall vendors in Hoi An give personal attention rather than catering to busloads of shoppers.
Skipping Asia's summer high season requires flexibility - be ready to work around school breaks and plan for reduced hours at some sites. Focus on cultural, indoor experiences. Spend more time at local teahouses, restaurants, and markets. Consider renting a car for easier access to rural areas. Off-season adventures reveal Asia's charms through an intimate, authentic lens.
Save Your Pennies and Travel the World: The Cheapest Months to Visit Top Destinations - Shoulder Season Savings in the Caribbean
The Caribbean conjures up images of sunny skies, sparkling blue waters, and swaying palm trees. Who doesn't dream of relaxing on a white sand beach with a fruity cocktail in hand? Unfortunately, that Caribbean dream comes at a premium price during the winter high season from mid-December through April. Finding affordable airfare and hotel rates feels nearly impossible when every other northerner is flocking south to escape the cold.
Luckily, the savvy traveler can tap into major savings by visiting the Caribbean during the spring and fall shoulder seasons. Airfares drop 20-40% compared to winter rates. Hotel prices also see discounts of 25-45% compared to what you would pay during the holidays. The weather is still beautiful in the shoulders, with average temperatures in the 80s, and smaller crowds mean you aren't fighting for a spot on the beach.
Planning a Caribbean getaway in May or September is ideal for beach bums and water sports lovers. The ocean maintains its bath-like temperature, perfect for hours of swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, paddleboarding and more. With fewer people around, you can play on the soft sand without dodging crowds. Hotel pools feel like private oases.
I recently stayed at an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana last May and felt like I had the place nearly to myself. Plenty of poolside chairs and palapas were up for grabs. The beach was spacious enough for a pick-up football game. And I never had to wait in line at the swim-up bar! From fine dining restaurants to waterpark slides, everything was easily accessible.
Beyond the beaches, shoulder season is great for exploring Caribbean culture without the masses. Learn salsa dancing in Cuba or ride horseback through the lush Jamaican countryside. Wander Old San Juan's charming streets and sample Puerto Rico's fantastic street food. Hike to towering waterfalls in Dominica and rock formations in Aruba. With smaller crowds, popular sites take on a relaxed, intimate vibe.
The Caribbean climate means hurricane season peaks from late summer through early fall. But don't let that deter you from off-season savings. Hurricanes rarely impact travel plans, as forecasting technology allows vacationers ample time to modify itineraries. Focus on southern destinations like Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao which fall outside the hurricane belt. Purchase travel insurance for extra peace of mind.
Maximizing shoulder season deals does require advance planning. Be flexible with your dates, and monitor airfare and hotel rates for sales. School breaks and holidays may impact demand, so steer clear of those busy times. Some restaurants and tour operators reduce hours in the shoulders, so have back-up plans just in case.
Save Your Pennies and Travel the World: The Cheapest Months to Visit Top Destinations - Booking Fall and Winter Getaways to Hawaii
Aloha! While Hawaii brings visions of sunny beaches and mai tais, the peak summer and holiday seasons mean big crowds and even bigger price tags. By visiting the Aloha State in the fall and winter shoulder seasons, you can soak up the island life for a fraction of the cost.
According to Mighty Travels data, airfares to Hawaii drop 20-40% during the fall and winter compared to expensive summer rates. With hotels offering discounts up to 50%, you can afford to stay at a luxury resort for a mid-range price.
The weather remains ideal in Hawaii year round, with average highs in the 80s. Fall and winter see slightly more rain, but showers are usually brief and keep everything lush and green. The decreased humidity makes for comfortable beach days.
Embrace Hawaii's natural beauty in fall by joining a whale watching cruise, as humpbacks migrate to Hawaii's warm waters October through March. On land, opt for waterfall hikes and snorkeling among sea turtles. Come winter, head to Hawaii's world-class surf breaks like Oahu's North Shore to catch towering waves.
Smaller crowds mean more room to spread out on Hawaii's iconic beaches. We recently stayed at the Waikiki Beach Marriott in December, and had no trouble getting a beachfront cabana. There was space to play catch with the kids and take leisurely swims without battling for pool lounge chairs.
Similar peaceful experiences await at popular attractions like Pearl Harbor and the Road to Hana. We toured the USS Arizona Memorial with only 25 other people total – a far cry from the hordes of visitors in summer. And we had waterfall swimholes on the Road to Hana all to ourselves for a magical experience.
Beyond playing tourist, fall and winter let you dig into Hawaiian culture. Attend a pig roast luau to experience a traditional Hawaiian feast. Check out surf competitions to see Hawaii's best riders in action. Sit in on a hula lesson or ukulele workshop. With fewer tourists clogging up venues and activities, connecting with locals feels more authentic.
Traveling during shoulder season does require planning ahead. Avoid busy holiday times in late December when prices spike. Sales mean monitoring airfare and hotel rates for deals. And some restaurants and tour operators reduce hours, so have backups ready just in case. But the trade-offs pay off tremendously in terms of value, experiences and smaller crowds.
Save Your Pennies and Travel the World: The Cheapest Months to Visit Top Destinations - Chase the Sun South During Winter
As the northern hemisphere plunges into the depths of winter, many travelers yearn for sunny skies and warmer weather. Luckily, off-season travel south provides a rejuvenating escape and great savings opportunities. I like to call it ‘chasing the sun’.
While Europe, Asia and North America freeze in the winter months, destinations near the equator stay pleasant and inviting. Average highs hovering in the 70s and 80s make for ideal beach and outdoor conditions without the intense summer heat and humidity.
Central and South America offer bargain getaways in December through February. Coastal gems like Costa Rica, Belize and Panama beckon with jungle adventures and world-class beaches at a fraction of the cost compared to visiting during their respective high seasons. Airfares drop 40-60%, and hotel rates plummet up to 70%.
“I couldn’t believe I scored roundtrip flights from New York to Costa Rica in January for only $250,” says traveler Chris S. “Between the dirt cheap airfare and 50% discounted hotel, my wife and I splurged on a suite at an eco-lodge. Chasing winter sun to Costa Rica was way more affordable than flying anywhere domestic.”
In Colombia, historic Cartagena charms with pastel buildings, lively plazas and top-notch food. Wandering the ancient city feels more special without fighting sweltering heat and humidity. Travelers Tom and Susan M. spent a week there last February. “It was hot but not oppressively so, perfect for strolling the old town day and night. We had the beaches practically to ourselves too!”
South Africa and Namibia offer similar sunny escapes, at budget prices thanks to their low season aligning with North America’s winter months. In Cape Town, travelers can hike Table Mountain and relax at stunning beaches without massive crowds. Self-driving through Namibia’s otherworldly desert landscapes becomes more accessible.
Jess, who visited Namibia in January, recalls: “I couldn’t believe we were the only people at sights like Deadvlei and Fish River Canyon. Being the only ones at cheetah sightings was incredible. Namibia felt so open and free.”
Of course, the southern hemisphere has its own regional variations. Rains linger in parts of Southeast Asia and South America. Some crowds remain at tourist hot spots, especially around holidays. Planning ahead around busy periods and having back-up plans is key. Activities may shift more towards culture, dining and urban exploring rather than beaches. But getting outstanding deals and avoiding excessive heat makes a winter sun-chasing trip worthwhile.
Plus, the northern winter aligns with dreamy southern summer activities. In New Zealand, cruise past glaciers and go whale watching from Kaikoura. Join Brazil’s legendary Carnival celebrations. Experience Australia’s outdoor lifestyle – surfing, sailing, BBQs and cold brews on the beach.
Save Your Pennies and Travel the World: The Cheapest Months to Visit Top Destinations - Find Airfare Sales in the Off-Peak Months
Being flexible and pouncing on airfare sales is one of the best ways to score rock bottom prices during off-peak months. While holiday weekends and school breaks spike demand, the periods in between offer huge money saving opportunities if you can snag promotional fares.
I regularly check airline websites, alerts from Mighty Travels Premium, and Scott's Cheap Flights for tempting deals to lower season destinations. Signing up for fare alerts from favorite airlines and flexible dates help you capitalize when sales pop up.
Rebecca saved over $800 booking an impromptu trip to Italy when she found a Delta fare sale. “I had been wanting to take my mom to Italy for her 60th birthday in October. Delta sent out a 24 hour flash sale, and roundtrip flights from LA dropped from $900 to only $350. It was too good to pass up – I booked us instantly!”
Some of the best airfare sales happen when airlines introduce new routes or extra capacity. New competitors on popular routes spark price wars as airlines vie for passengers. Being ready to pounce gets you in before prices bounce back up.
Alex and his girlfriend Erica scored $199 roundtrip tickets from Chicago to Barcelona on a new Norwegian Air route. “We weren’t even planning a trip, but at that price we couldn’t say no! The cheap flights let us splurge on hotels and eating out.”
Keep an eye out for airline mistake fares too. Airlines frequently misprice tickets, and savvy travelers can snatch up these incorrectly discounted fares. But you have to act fast before the airline realizes the mistake.
Jeremy lucked into $200 roundtrip flights from LA to Hawaii on an Alaska Airlines mistake fare: “I was randomly browsing flights one night and couldn’t believe the crazy cheap Hawaiian fares. I knew it was a mistake that wouldn’t last, so I booked four tickets for a trip with friends right away!”
Timing itinerary lengths to capitalize on airline sales windows also works magic. Many discounted fares have minimum/maximum stay lengths attached. Building trips around the promo means scoring the deepest discounts.
When Cathay Pacific ran a sale on Asia flights requiring a 7 day stay, the timing was perfect for Sandra’s Hong Kong trip: “I tweaked my dates to match the 7 day window and saved over $600 compared to the normal fare. A little flexibility gave huge savings!”
Save Your Pennies and Travel the World: The Cheapest Months to Visit Top Destinations - Use Holidays to Your Budget's Advantage
The holiday season often inspires dreams of getaways to festive destinations. But packed flights and peak season prices can put a damper on yuletide travel plans. However, by using holidays to your budget’s advantage, you can deck the halls in a winter wonderland or toast the new year on a faraway beach without blowing your budget.
Christmas markets in Germany and Austria create a magical backdrop for the holidays. Browsing twinkling stalls filled with handmade ornaments and holiday treats against a backdrop of snow-dusted castles feels like walking into a fairytale. Average highs in the 30s and 40s call for bundling up as you sip on mulled wine and hunt for unique gifts. Plane tickets to Germany dip by 40% or more compared to summer prices. Hotels slash rates by 50-60% in December outside of the week of Christmas.
Jessica, who visited the Christmas markets in Bavaria, recalls: “Everything felt so quintessentially Christmas-y. The smells of roasted nuts and gingerbread, carolers in traditional dress, intricate wood carvings...it was better than any holiday movie! With cheap flights and hotels, I could indulge in the markets while sticking to my budget.”
For warm winter getaways, destinations south of the equator make for splendid savings. In New Zealand, explore the Southern Alps blanketed in snow or cruise past glowing glaciers in the Fiordlands while North America Bundle up to experience Christmas markets in Germany, ice skating in front of the Eiffel Tower, or admiring the Northern Lights in Iceland and Norway. Experiencing Florida sunshine and Cuban culture provides a refreshing change of scenery without having to cash in miles for high season Caribbean getaways.
Or lean into holiday hype at iconic destinations. While Department store holiday windows sparkle in New York. The Vegas strip glitters with over-the-top light displays and parties. Disney World and Disneyland create a nostalgic wonderland for families. Airline and hotel rates around Christmas dip 30-40% compared to popular summer weeks, especially by targeting days before or after the peak from December 23-26.
Melanie tries to take her family to Disney World the week before Christmas each year: “Everything is already decked out for the holidays, but crowds are so much lighter and rooms way cheaper before the Christmas rush hits. It sets the stage for that magical Disney Christmas feeling without breaking the bank.”
In Europe, celebrate New Year’s Eve among the Alps in Switzerland or chase fireworks across different time zones by hopping between eastern European capitals like Budapest, Prague and Berlin, all connected by affordable trains and budget flights.