The dramatic increase in peak season crowds and costs for ideal accommodations have been pushed to the limit. Heap on the “fomo” fueled by social media and travel sites and your relaxing respite becomes a race to secure a place in long lines or dinner reservations options of 4 or 10 p.m.
Travel planning for the “shoulders” (October/December and January/March) not only reduce costs and crowds, but you’re also responding to the reality of Minnesota weather where the cold comes early and overstays its welcome. In the past, shoulder seasons were great for budget travelers. Today, it’s the smart way for any traveler to enjoy more accommodating staff, local life at its usual pace and much better values.
Schedule trips just before or immediately after high seasons to find ideal weather, better rates, fewer tourists and more lodging and restaurant availability. Virtuoso, the leading global travel network, estimates a savings of roughly 20 percent, but we’ve found room rates closer to 40 percent lower and many with additional day offers. Book through the right travel advisor, and you may even hear those magic words, “complimentary upgrade.”
If you have school-age children in tow, get creative with their calendars. In 2020, Edina schools have a January “Teacher Data Day” on the Friday before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday – there’s your four-day shoulder weekend. According to Travel & Leisure, travel to San Diego in January means a 37 percent savings.
Better yet, make Friday the 13th your lucky day in March. Get just four days of class assignments done in advance, and then slide into a spring break that lasts until March 30th. Travel to Hawaii in March can save travelers up to 50 percent.
Upgrade over pocketing amu savings. Shoulder season discounts are often calculated in terms of percentages off and many free amenities (i.e., spa credits). Use those values to enjoy better accommodations, airline upgrades and indulgences. Book those impossible to get in to restaurants. By trading up, you’ll get more “bang for your buck.”
Mark Murray is a travel advisor at Newmark Travel, an Edina based affiliate of Pique Travel and member of the Virtuoso Travel Network.