Top spots for off peak travel

Take a trip in high season and you might have to contend with eye-watering prices and suffocating crowds – and while low season might bag you a bargain, poor weather and closed attractions could derail the best of plans.

The budget travel sweet spot? Shoulder season. Prices have fallen, but there’s still great weather, most restaurants and attractions remain open and the bulk of the holidaymakers have moved on. So don’t settle for less; with these shoulder season hotspots you get the crème de la crème of travel destinations without the compromise.


…for beach lovers

The first rule of booking a budget beach break? School holidays are a no-no: costs can be painful as travel providers across the board cash in on families’ limited time off.

During the Mediterranean’s June to August peak season, jacked-up prices come with sweltering temperatures and swarming beaches. Wait until October and hotel rates have dropped significantly, but you’ll still find plenty of sun in Greece, Turkey and even southern Spain and Italybefore the beach resorts close down for the winter season.

Over in the Caribbean, the main tourist season gets going in December and continues through to April, coinciding with various school holidays around the world. This leaves a perfect window in May and June to snag a deal, with room prices falling by as much as a third after the crowds have left. Sure, you might have to contend with the odd downpour, but you’re not yet into hurricane season and there’ll be much more space on the beach.


…for wildlife watching

Most visitors heading out on a Kenyan safari choose the June to September dry season, but as the crowds start to go down in November, so do the prices for both trips and accommodation. The best news? You’ll still be able to spot lions and elephants aplenty, and it’s one of the best times of year for birding. Yes, it’s the start of the wet season, but rains are confined to short showers in the afternoon and the scenery is lush and green. If you’re lucky, you may still catch the end of the great migration.

South Africa’s shoulder season (September to October) is fantastic for safaris. The temperatures are mild, but not as cold as the dry low season (May to August), and afternoon rainstorms have little impact on wildlife viewing. What’s more, you’ll miss the crazy rush of the of South African school holidays – in popular tourist areas, accommodation can go for up to 50 percent less outside of the December to March high season.

Fewer crowds in Costa Rica’s shoulder season (May to July) mean increased hotel availability and low season discounts on both beds and tours. The rainy season has only just kicked in and days are mostly sunny, with occasional heavy, but short-lived, downpours. If you don’t mind getting a little wet, you can get up-close to plenty of critters at Costa Rica’s big-hitting natural attractions, such as Manuel Antonio National Park. The tail end of rainy season in November brings with it similar bargains, plus the added bonus of tons of migratory birds.