The shoulder season between Easter and summer is the ideal time to travel – so how do you make the most of it?
In travel there are not four seasons, there are three. High season is when most of us have to take our holidays, rates and prices soar, the weather is hottest, and the crowds are thickest. We would avoid it if we could, but most of us can’t.
Then there is low season. It’s cheap because it’s the time when no one else wants to travel, the weather is cold, wet or stifling, or the sights are closed.
Finally there is the season which is upon us now: shoulder season, that in-between time from mid-April until mid-June, when the weather is warming up, the brief spasm of the Easter holidays is over, and yet hotels and villas are reopening and airlines and tour operators have begun their summer charter flights. The sights are quiet and the beaches peaceful. You can book the hotel of your choice, roads are traffic-free and airports are bearable. This is when most people would like to travel, but school terms, commitments at work or other obstacles prevent them.
As a result, the next two months offer some of the best-value holidays of the year. An industry that is ruled so directly by the laws of supply and demand has no alternative but to make prices as keen as possible.
If you are free to travel in the next two months, how do you make the most of it?
The exact dates you travel can make a difference to cost and availability. Prices jump over the May bank holiday and the Whitsun half-term. And flights on Fridays and Sundays are nearly always pricier.
Check the bottom line
If you are offered a deal – free nights in a hotel, or complimentary upgrade – double-check that you can’t find it cheaper elsewhere. Be wary of car hire deals that look too good to be true.
For guaranteed warmth, try Andalusia (Photo: AP/Fotolia)
Fly south and east
The Med in late April and May is often sunny and warm, but if you want reliable heat, head as far south or south east as you can. Cyprus, Crete, the Turkish coast, Sicily and Andalusia are all good bets. Leave the south of France, northern Italy and northern Spain until June. Bear in mind, too, that Dubai and Oman come into their own at this time of year, as do Morocco and Egypt (security situation permitting).
Cities are an exception
Don’t expect quite the same bargains in European cities. Demand for hotels in Paris, Venice, Rome, Amsterdam and other tourist honeypots can be stronger in May, June and September than in July and August. If the next few months look expensive, consider October instead.
US break are also much cheaper (Photo: AP/Fotolia)
Consider long haul
It isn’t only the Med where travellers in May and June get the best of things. It’s a great time to visit the Caribbean, most of the United States and Canada, and parts of the Far East. A rare reduction in airport departure tax rates, which came in at the beginning of this month, will help to reduce costs even more.
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