Last year, I spent some time coming up with a list and map of the best shoulder season times and destinations.
In his breakthrough book, Moonwalking With Einstein, Joshua Foer suggests that time flies faster when you’re older because you have fewer amazing experiences to make your weeks, months and years memorable.
Occasionally someone has a baby or a birthday worth celebrating. Occasionally you take a trip.
But the secret to living what feels like a longer, fuller life actually lies in creating more memorable experiences — trading in some of the day-in-day-out sameness for real, exciting, experiences.
Today, here’s my suggestion for your New Year’s Resolution: Live more. Take more trips. Try more new things. Meet new people. And find yourself elated to be alive.
Not only are you happier and more productive when you return home from a vacation, but your life feels fuller and longer, too.
Take some time today to look into a trip you want to take this year. Kayak.com is still a great place to find and compare flights… and now Google Flights lets you put in a date and your origin city… and then you can see how much it would cost to go ANYWHERE in the world.
Let your mind wander down a little virtual touring.
To make your experience even better with cheaper airfares and hotels (and fewer tourists) use this shoulder season chart I created a few years ago.
Shoulder Season Travel Chart
(We’ll call February and August “planning months, ” since neither has any significant shoulder seasons.)
Shoulder Season Travel Calendar
January – North Africa. If the political climate is right, this is the perfect shoulder season time to visit Morocco or Egypt. Check up on travel safety here. The Christmas travel crowds are gone and the weather is warm.
March – Brazil (post-Carnival), Hawaii, or India, where the shoulder season is best between local holidays.
April – Western Europe. Rome, Barcelona, Paris, and London will still be cool and you’ll have your chance of rain, for sure, but the crowds are thin and prices go way down. Also, Australia. April is early autumn in Australia and temperatures are dropping. You’ll also get there before the crowds rise. Note: This is not shoulder season in The Netherlands, where it’s very busy and beautiful, as the flower fields are in bloom.
May – Japan. Hit Tokyo and Kyoto after the Cherry Blossom festivals are over for a break in prices.
June – Baja, Mexico. Prices and temperatures are mild, between the Spring Break rush and the summer heat. Shoulder season is the BEST time to visit Mexico.
July – Northern Caribbean – Puerto Rico, Dominical Republic, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, The Bahamas. (But avoid hurricane areas.)
September – South Africa. It’s early spring in South Africa, and shoulder season prices are low on game drives. You’ll also find animals easier to spot since many trees still don’t have their leaves.
October – Southern Europe. The weather has turned chilly up north, but around the Mediterranean, you’ll usually still find warm temperatures… and good travel deals. Try Provence, in France, Portugal, Spain, Rome, Naples, and Sicily.
November – Caribbean and South Pacific. Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bali, Singapore, Malaysia… Christmas is high season in these warm destinations. Get your beach time in before the rush.
December – Costa Rica. The Rainy Season is subsiding, but the tourists haven’t flocked in, yet
If you’re not sure when shoulder season falls for your destination of choice, try booking your trip for just before or just after high season.
Even better than shoulder season…
If you’d like to travel to some of these places for free… or find ways to fund your adventures that are fun, like selling your travel photos, here are our top programs to consider:
Here’s an article from our archives on getting paid to travel as a travel writer.
The Turn Your Pictures into Cash program – You probably have photographs sitting on your computer right now that could be earning money if they were available on a stock photo site or sent to an editor as part of a travel article package. We regularly hear from members who are making it happen with the simplest of photos. You don’t need the best equipment and you don’t need years of experience. You just need to know how to get the right photos into the right hands. This program shows you how.
Expeditions — Join us live, in-the-field, with a professional photographer or travel writer by your side to show you the ropes. Add your name to our Workshop Alert List to stay updated on all upcoming expeditions.
Don’t let this year fly by as fast as the last one did. Make it memorable and you’ll find it feels longer (and that you feel more alive experiencing it, too).
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can fund your travels and make an extra income with photography, travel writing, blogging, and more in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel. Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Five Fun Ways To Get Paid To Travel: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]