Head to Sri Lanaka, one of the top ten travel destinations for foodies, this season. Our fall is when Sri Lanka is at its best, and it’s also when some of the country’s biggest cultural highlights are. “Witness the Esala Perahera festival in Kandy, the most spectacular festival in Sri Lanka and one of the most colorful religious pageants in Asia,” says Dominique Callimanopulos, founder and president of Elevate Destinations. Surf camps and other activities in Sri Lanka also have about a 30 percent discount during the off-season, which can be found on their websites, says Kristen Slizgi, founder of The Luxury Travelist, a travel consulting company.
Tourist destinations like Paris won’t be as crowded during shoulder season, which means less time spent waiting in line, says Rachel Swanson, a certified travel associate with Travel Leaders, a network of travel agencies. She still recommends booking tours and other tourist-y activities in advance, like dinner at the Eiffel Tower. Brush up on these must-know French phrases before your trip.
The country of islands makes for a fantastic shoulder season trip because the temperatures stay in the 70s through October and in the 60s in November, says food- and beverage-focused communications agency YC Media, which works the Greece National Tourism Organization.
Take a cruise and see it all
Why limit yourself to just one country when you can hop around a bunch? “There are many benefits to cruising during shoulder season. Some of the best reasons to travel after Labor Day are price reductions and incentives, not to mention many of the summer promotions are extended to the shoulder season, which can include drink packages, free Wi-Fi, shipboard credit and more,” says LynnDee King, a cruise consultant for Cruise Specialists. “Aside from cost, you’ll beat the crowds, as most kids are back to school and family vacations are over. Not to mention, this in turn means it will be easier to get to attractions, restaurants and events in popular ports of call.” Find out all the insider tips you need to have the best cruise ever.
Countries like Poland and the Czech Republic make for great budget travel destinations, especially with the current exchange rates, says Swanson. Likewise, hotels tend to be cheaper in eastern European countries. Want to stay local? Here’s are small American towns you’d swear were from Europe.
In a city of 9.2 million people, large crowds can make sightseeing a bit difficult. By choosing to travel during shoulder season, the city will be more accessible to tourists. “The weather is much cooler and there are fewer tourists, so it’s not as crowded at the more popular sites and destinations,” says Karl Peterson, air product manager for STA Travel. “Foliage season trumps the cherry blossom one with maple and ginkgo trees turning bright red and yellow, turning every city parks and gardens into a symphony of colors,” adds Callimanopulos. Want to stay stateside? Here are the 11 best road trips where you’ll see stunning fall foliage.
Outside of the summer season, Nantucket loses the crowds but none of its appeal. “Fall weather is a little more quiet but the restaurants are still open,” says Slizgi. Plus, you don’t have to book your car ferry months in advance. Learn more about our favorite islands in the U.S.
Rome is an easy city to reach on a budget, especially when you’re traveling from another European country. Known for its beautiful ruins and excellent pizza, Rome will still be warm enough to walk around but won’t be swarming with tourists. Travelers should ask their travel agent to ask about off-season deals or inquire with the tour agency itself, says Slizgi. Commit these 12 Italian phrases to memory before your trip.
Cambodia and Laos
For travelers who want to feel like they’re on a different planet, Slizgi, suggests traveling to these southeast Asian countries. The cost of living is so low, she says, that a four-star hotel might only warrant $50 a night. She also advises against booking everything in advance. “I always advise people to book one or two things in the beginning, but leave room to meet people and to get advice from people and go with the flow,” she says.
When traveling to the Southern Hemisphere, travelers should remember that the seasons are flipped. However, shoulder season, entering the fall, is also flipped; travelers in New Zealand will be on the shoulder of spring. It’s one of the 16 most incredible beauty destinations in the world and a great place to be immersed in nature. While the flight is long, the views are worth it.