Home > Personal Finance > Welcome to Shoulder Season: When Travelers Can Pay Way Less

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When it comes to traveling, most people are familiar with the ideas of peak seasons and off-seasons — that taking a vacation is generally more popular (and more expensive) in July than in January. Between those extremes is shoulder season, the not-quite-best (or worst) time to go to specific destinations, which means there may be deals to score by booking fall travel.

The passing of Labor Day signifies the unofficial end of summer for many Americans, but you might be able to cling to warm weather and beach days by looking into a later-than-usual vacation. Travel analysts at Expedia say you can get an oceanside vacation for up to 38% off peak-travel prices by traveling in September or October, while the weather is still suitable for spending the day on the beach.

The analysts looked at flights from the top 10 departure cities in the U.S. (among them Chicago, Houston, New York and Los Angeles) and compared the prices of travel and lodging during peak months (June 1 through Aug. 31) and the shoulder season. Here’s what some of the average savings look like, according to Expedia’s analysts.

Flights

Hawaii
Average ticket price: 17% less than during peak months

Mexico (Cabo, Puerto Vallarta and Cancun)
Average ticket price: 8% less than during peak months

Caribbean
Average ticket price: 7% less than during peak months

Hotels

Mexico
Average daily rate: 16% less than during peak months

Caribbean
Average daily rate: 16% less than during peak months

Hawaii
Average daily rate: 9% less than during peak months

Savings could be even greater (or less) depending on your specific destination and hotel choice, which is why it helps to do some research before committing to an itinerary. If you’re a credit card user, you might be able to further boost your savings by redeeming travel rewards. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred gives cardholders double points for travel purchases, which can be redeemed for other travel reservations or cash back. (Here’s a full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred.)

No matter how you pay for your vacation or how big of a deal you can get when booking it, it’s always crucial to make sure you’re not blowing your budget, because a relaxing getaway and happy memories tend to not be worth dealing with debt later on, and possibly negatively impacting your credit. You can get your credit scores for free on Credit.com to get a better understanding of how your debt is affecting your credit, and to watch for any important changes.

At publishing time, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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