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What Is Shoulder Season?

Shoulder season is the months between the peak season, usually during the summer months, and the offseason in the winter. In this case, the autumn months would be considered shoulder season. 

Why Is It Called Shoulder Season?

There are two theories as to where the term originated. The first is that the spring and fall climates, usually labeled as shoulder seasons, are not warm enough to wear t-shirts but not cool enough to wear coats. A light shawl or scarf wrapped around the shoulders during these seasons is one explanation for the term. Another idea is that because winter and summer are considered “head seasons,” fall and spring are the shoulders since they fall on each side of the head months, much like how literal shoulders are located on each side of a head. 

Regardless of the origin of the phrase, shoulder season months vary from region to region. 

Shoulder season

When Is Shoulder Season in the United States?

There are many different climates and landscapes in the United States that encourage tourism during varying times of the year. However, for the most part, the shoulder season in the United States is during the spring and fall months, much like Europe. Because of extreme cold in the winter and heat in the summer in some regions, traveling during the shoulder season is ideal for many families. 

When Is Shoulder Season in Europe?

In Europe, the early spring and late autumn are most often considered the shoulder seasons. It includes March and April in the spring and late September through early November in autumn. 

What Are Shoulder Months?

Shoulder season months are often the best times to offer discounts and deals on your vacation rental home to encourage traveling during the months that many families stay home. For most regions, the shoulder months include March, April, September, October, and November. 

Traveling during shoulder months is often preferred by travelers who want to get away from crowds and find great deals on flights and stays. Usually, during the shoulder months, school and college students are in class and holiday activities are either yet to come or have already passed. The supply-demand aspect of the travel industry drops considerably during these months. 

Specific destinations can also influence when a shoulder season occurs. Certain activities and holidays may fall during the fall or spring months, making your area a hot spot and changing the shoulder season. For example, Dublin is a popular destination in March because of St. Patrick’s day. Dublin’s shoulder season would not include March, even though the rest of Europe does. 

Regarding your vacation rental home, you will know what your shoulder season is based on the activities offered in your area and how tourism fluctuates from month to month. Knowing that local climate and attractions have the biggest effect on what months the shoulder season falls on will help you prepare your vacation rental business to drive in more bookings.