Americans who are eager to travel but facing a tight budget should consider knowing when and where they are going on vacation.
Opting to travel outside of a destination’s peak season can offer affordability without major compromises, experts say.
It can even bring advantages, such as fewer crowds, shorter lines, and sometimes even nicer weather.
“There is absolutely a price difference,” said Anne Lischwe, travel sales manager at AAA Travel.
“I would say that in Europe you probably pay half as much in low season as in high season.”
DailyMail.com used Expedia’s package booking service to compare the cost of vacations both within the US and internationally at different times of the year. Prices include flights and accommodation.
A trip for a family of four from New York City to Italy’s Amalfi Coast would cost nearly $11,000 in August, according to Expedia’s package booking service, which includes the cost of flights and accommodations.
But that same vacation (staying at the Cetus Hotel in Cetera) would cost less than $5,000 in April, which is when the “shoulder season” is generally considered to begin.
Shoulder season is a term that describes the period between peak and trough.
“It’s an ideal location because it can still be really nice weather, but there won’t be as many people and the prices will be more reasonable,” Lischwe said.
Pamela Garza, founder of travel agency Tory Ellers, told the Wall Street Journal that while she wouldn’t go so far as to send people to Italy’s Amalfi Coast in the middle of winter, she suggests avoiding the middle of summer.
“I will tell people to avoid July and August on the Amalfi Coast, even if it means having to deal with some cloudy days,” he said.
A recent survey by Zicasso of 200 travel specialists found that the shoulder season was becoming increasingly popular, with 41 percent of respondents noticing a steadier influx of travelers year-round.
“In the last year, the peak season and the shoulder season have expanded a lot, because many people have realized that it is a beneficial time to travel,” Lischwe said.
Travel experts suggest that visiting Italy’s Amalfi Coast in the shoulder season can save thousands of dollars and may cost just a few cloudy days.
Even when visiting the Caribbean, where the weather can be more consistent year-round, travelers can benefit from visiting in the shoulder season.
Significant savings can still be achieved, even in places like the Caribbean, where other than hurricane season, conditions are reasonable year-round.
A two-week couples’ vacation at the Windjammer Hotel in St. Lucia, including flights from New York, costs $3,444 each in June, considered the best time to go. That same vacation in October costs $2,183 per person. That’s $2,522 cheaper per couple.
It’s a similar trend when it comes to traveling within the US.
“The shoulder season is a great time to visit warm-weather cities in the U.S. like San Diego or Los Angeles, or even head to a national park,” said Expedia travel expert Christie Hudson.
For example, the cost of a Grand Canyon vacation peaks during the sweltering summer months, which are the most popular time to visit.
Flying from New York to Grand Canyon National Airport for a long weekend vacation at the Grand Hotel in northern Arizona costs $3,767 in late June. That exact same trip in early December would cost $2,799.
Winter is a surprisingly pleasant time to visit the canyon, which is less crowded and quieter, while offering the same views of the vast, sometimes snow-covered landscape.
A vacation to the Caribbean could cost thousands of dollars less in October than a trip in May or June, considered the best time to visit.
The cost of a Grand Canyon vacation peaks during the sweltering summer months. The image is the south rim of the canyon.
Lucy Pabst, a National Park Service ranger, told the Wall Street Journal that she advises people to visit in the winter.
“You can walk and travel to the canyon much further than in the summer, since heat stroke is not a risk,” he said.
But Lischewe cautioned that it’s not always appropriate to go on vacation outside of peak months.
“People think, ‘Oh, maybe I’ll do shoulder season in Alaska.’ That just means everything is going to be closed,” he said.
“Unfortunately, you’re not really going to have a good experience.”