The Most Popular Destinations for the Fall Travel Shoulder Season

Woman with a Caribbean beach all to herself during shoulder season No crowds on this Caribbean beach, the top international destination during the fall shoulder season.

Fall is an ideal time to travel for those who enjoy fewer crowds and cheaper fares. In the travel industry this time is known as shoulder season, a time when you're more likely to find a trip to many popular destinations for less money than the peak travel seasons.

When is shoulder season?

There are actually two different travel shoulder seasons each year—one takes place between September and October and another from April through mid-June. Different destinations experience their high seasons at varying times of year, so before setting their hearts on a particular destination for an off-season trip travelers are wise to do a little homework. 

What is shoulder season?

Traveling before and after peak vacation seasons, times of year known as off-seasons or shoulder seasons, can mean great savings for travelers, fewer crowds and friendlier locals. Some of the best travel deals can be found at this time, especially for destinations that cater to families or don't have the most ideal weather during this time.

“These trips are generally more affordable this time of year since it’s off-peak season,” said Bob Chambers, vice president of operations at Generali Global Assistance. “Many tourists are back to work or back to school so those who want to take trips often enjoy fewer crowds.”

Popular destinations for the fall travel shoulder season

We looked at where our customers traveled last fall and found that most stayed within the United States. When traveling internationally, the Caribbean, Mediterranean/Europe and Mexico were the most popular destinations.

Trips to Europe cost on average nearly twice as much as domestic trips, which could be a major reason the latter was more popular among shoulder season travelers. Additionally, the average number of travelers per trip was two; and the average age of travelers to all destinations was dominated by the baby boomers.

According to Travel Leaders fall travel trend surveyMaui was the number one U.S. destination for the remainder of the year and London was the number one international destination.

Read more about how travel insurance can help during shoulder season travel:

For fall trips, most people purchased travel insurance roughly three months in advance of their trip departure date, while the average trip length was 9 days. While it's good to plan ahead, this season is also a great time to get a last-minute travel deal.

“Before booking their next vacation, travelers shooting for off-peak season need to do their homework or talk to a travel professional to be sure they’re nailing down the right travel window,” said Lea Nielsen, vice president of sales and business development at CruiseDirect.com. “If they are going on a cruise on the other side of the world, then the off-peak season could be different than what they expect. Working with a seasoned travel expert like one of our personal cruise advisors can save you time and money.”

Whether you consult an expert or research your trip online, it’s important to be aware of the many factors that can affect a fall vacation. Be sure to check for weather and travel alerts before departing. After all, it’s still hurricane season through November, so if a storm is forming before you depart, you’re going to want to know.

In addition to considering when to take a trip and if booking during shoulder season is right for you, be sure to consider whether travel insurance is right for your trip. You can compare our plans side-by-side to see which might be the best fit.

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