By Florin R Ferrs.
“When you need a shoulder to cry on” The Beatles sang on “Anytime At All”, but the secret to cheap international airfare deals is not to fly “Anytime At All”, but when the time is just right: During the Shoulder Season.
The Shoulder Season is the best kept secret in international airfares. Wherever you are traveling to Europe, Africa, Asia, South America or the South Pacific, shoulder season gets you lower airfares smaller crowds, and the mildest weather.
Mad for the Med:
Shoulder season in Europe starts in September and lasts through October. This is the perfect time to hit Mediterranean resorts, the hordes of clubbers are gone and the sea is still warm for that sunset dip. Look out for shoulder season deals to Italy, Spain, the Balearic Islands, and even Tunisia or Greece. I just found a hot shoulder season airfare to Florence on vayama.com and I plan to take the train down to Napoli, and then the ferry over to the Mediterranean island paradise of Capri. Talk about getting the warm shoulder!
South of the Shoulder:
Shoulder season in Latin America means anytime during the North American winter except the three weeks of Christmas and New Year’s. The days are slightly cooler on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica (Limon), Colombia (Cartagena, San Andres Island) and Venezuela (Margarita Island), but coolness is a relative term in the Caribbean, which stays a balmy 85 degrees in January!
Shoulder season is one of the best times to travel to the Middle East, Ramadan ends in August or at the beginning of September and it actually does get a bit cooler from October through November. This is camel racing season in Dubai and a great time to visit Petra, near Amman Jordan. I just scored a cheap flight from the east coast to Dubai from $731 during shoulder season.
Shoulder season (October-November) is one of the best times to visit Cape Town, the hot summer months are gone but the cold winter rains have yet to arrive, leaving a pleasant Mediterranean climate, ideal to explore the wine regions and to hike along the top of table mountain, as the clear days offer spectacular views. I just found a flight on vayama from the East Coast to Cape Town from $1228 during shoulder season. Time to swim with the dolphins on Boulder beach!
Shoulder Down Under:
October and November are also ideal times to explore Australia and New Zealand, the winter is over, so no more rains, and the weather is crisp and dry. The tourist hordes haven’t arrived yet, so everything is cheaper and less congested. It’s hard to believe that New Zealand or Australia could get congested (New Zealand has more sheep than people, and Australia’s outback is virtually empty), but if try visiting the most popular destinations during the peak season (December through February) ), it might remind you of Times Square or Tokyo’s Ginza district, with Koalas.
South East Asian Shoulder:
The Monsoon Season tapers off at the end of October and November offers a perfect mini shoulder season between the end of the rains and the beginning of the busy tourist season in December (Christmas and New Year’s). November might be the best time to explore temples in Bangkok (way too hot during the peak summer heat). The Beaches are balmy all year around as the temperature never goes below 70.