For experienced and fresh-faced travelers alike, 2023 has been shaping up to be a great year. With COVID-19 cases decreasing and travel requirements easing, high-season travel throughout the rest of the year is set to increase dramatically. Since this is the first “normal” year since 2020, people are eager to get out and explore. To find the best deals, travelers will need to be strategic about dates and pay close attention to national vacations and school breaks.

If you look at Expedia’s travel trends report, it should come as no surprise that searches for spring break flights were up 40% from last year. If you are one of the millions of Americans looking to plan a trip in the coming months, take note of when most schools are on break. Booking during these times could result in higher prices and larger crowds at popular destinations. And let’s be honest—no one wants to spend their vacation time waiting in line or vying for a seat at the beach bar.

Finding the Best Travel Deals: Off-Peak and Shoulder Seasons

One of the best tips for scoring great deals on flights and hotels is to avoid traveling during peak seasons and shoot for off-peak and shoulder seasons. The cheapest times to travel are often before or after school holidays, avoiding weekend-adjacent days such as Monday and Friday.

Off-peak travel refers to the time of the year when tourist destinations experience their lowest demand—for example, this could refer to trips taken during the winter months for destinations popular during the summer, or summer months for destinations popular during the winter.

Traveling during off-peak periods can mean lower prices for flights, accommodations, and activities. Obviously, if you are a snowboarder, showing up at Park City, Utah, in July might defeat the purpose. But in the winter, Vienna, Austria, affords stunning snow-capped vistas, mulled wine, and of course the fabulous Christmas markets known as Krippenmarkts.

What is the “shoulder season” when we’re talking about trip planning? Shoulder season travel is similar to off-peak, but refers to the periods just before or after peak season. Shoulder season makes for excellent travel because the weather tends to be pretty mild in popular destinations. It can be a good option if you want to avoid the high prices and masses of peak season but still want to enjoy the good weather, sights, and activities of your chosen destination. Just imagine exploring the Italian region of Piedmont in autumn, where you can view colorful fall foliage, enjoy the culinary delights of truffle season, and visit famous tourist attractions—all without the crowds.

The Best Off-Peak Destinations for International Travel in 2023

Are you looking to travel without breaking the bank? Here are a few exciting destinations for those who want to learn how to travel internationally on a budget by taking advantage of the shoulder season.

1. Southeast Asia

Countries like Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia are generally in their shoulder season from March to May after the peak season of December to February. Off-peak season is a great time to explore the region’s beaches, temples, and other attractions. With trendy (and inexpensive) hostel options and a well-established tourist industry, Southeast Asia is also a great place for social travelers. Many hostels include large communal spaces where you can gather and make new friends.

2. Japan

The cherry blossom season in Japan typically starts in late March or early April, which coincides with many schools’ spring breaks. While this is a popular time to visit, it is still considered shoulder season, so prices may be lower than what you would find in the summer. Japan is also considered one of the best international destinations for solo travelers, as it is known for its safety, cleanliness, and easy-to-navigate transit systems.

3. South America

Countries like Peru, Chile, and Argentina are in their shoulder seasons during March and April. Shoulder season can be a great time to visit popular attractions like Machu Picchu or the Chilean wine regions. And if you are an adventurous foodie, you will love trying South America’s tasty foods (such as papa a la huancaína) and flavorful cocktails (such as pisco sours).

Related: How to Avoid the Crowds in Machu Picchu

4. Morocco

Morocco can be hot during the summer months, making the shoulder season of March to May a good time to visit. The weather is milder, prices are lower, and the famous cities of Marrakech and Fez may be less crowded.

There are so many benefits to traveling during off-peak and shoulder seasons. It can be easy to miss out on all the beauty, culture, and history when you visit a new place during peak season. All the hubbub can make for a chaotic afternoon, and the long lines can deter some from seeing all the sights. By doing some research and pinpointing the off-peak and shoulder seasons for your desired destination, you will be well on your way to a more enjoyable, hassle-free travel experience. It is worth it!

About the Author

Robert Hoffman headshotRobert Hoffman is the founder and CEO of Xchange of America, an online currency exchange platform that ranks as the top foreign currency provider in the U.S. Robert’s passion is making online currency as easy as possible for the everyday traveler, and his mantra is to provide an amazing customer experience with the highest level of convenience possible to drive repeat business. Xchange of America was founded in 2007 and is headquartered in Stuart, Florida.

Featured image by Darren Lawrence on Unsplash 

Want to connect with fellow travelers? Join our NEW Facebook community and share your insights and questions with nomads, expats, and other travel lovers worldwide!
Frayed Passport is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to