Best vacation deals in spring shoulder season

Consumer Reports

Shoulder season—the time between peak travel season and low season—is when vacationers can win the travel trifecta: good weather, few crowds, and discounts up to nearly 60 percent. 

To ring up the biggest savings:

Timing is everything. “The difference of a couple months and degrees in temperature can add up to as much as a 60 percent savings,” Jeanenne Tornatore, senior travel editor for Orbitz.com, said. 

Learn where the biggest discounts are. Shoulder season shifts according to location. In Florida, for example, it’s April and May, after the snowbirds head north and before summer’s sultriness sets in. At Marco Beach Ocean Resort, a suite that costs $479 a night in February drops 52 percent, to $229, in May.  

In Hawaii, shoulder season starts in mid-March and goes through May, ending when schools let out and families start to take their summer vacation. A $489 daily rate at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa in February drops to $288 with advance purchase, a 41 percent savings.

Beach towns gearing up for the summer have early-bird specials before Memorial Day. In Mexico and the Caribbean, prices at resorts and private villas generally plummet at least 30 percent after Easter, and hurricane season doesn’t begin until June. 

Didn't get enough of the slopes this winter? There’s often good skiing through mid-April at high-altitude resorts, with down-to-earth discounts of close to 40 percent.

Our hotel buying guide will help you get the best rate on a room.

Which airline is best? Our Ratings reveal the airlines 16,663 Consumer Reports subscribers said have the most comfy seats, best entertainment, easiest check-in, cleanest planes, and were lest likely to send their bags to another location. For tips on landing the best airfare, watch the video below.

––Mandy Walker

This article also appeared in the April 2014 issue of Consumer Reports Money Adviser.



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