The leaves are changing, temperatures are dropping, and airfare prices are cooling off from summer highs. It’s the time quintessentially known as “shoulder season,” when there are fewer people traveling — and thus more availability.
But this year, some of these seasonal characteristics could be harder to find, at least when it comes to avoiding crowds. According to new TripIt data, 85% of Americans are planning to travel this fall. Nearly two-thirds (64%) plan to fly domestically, 42% are planning a road trip, and 32% are planning to fly internationally.
One hypothesis as to why is that many are hoping the chaos of summer will cool off, too.
What Is Shoulder Season?
Shoulder season is the time between the peak and off seasons of travel. It varies based on where you are located around the globe. In the U.S., for example, shoulder season occurs between the busy summer travel season and the lull of winter travel — during the fall and spring.
Why do people like to travel during shoulder season? There are a few perks: Prices are typically lower than during peak summer travel. The weather is also typically better than in the off season. Combined, this creates a sweet spot for those travelers who have the flexibility to travel during this time.
Many people travel during the summer because kids are not in school, there are more long weekends to take advantage of, like Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day, and of course, the weather is often ideal for a vacation. But with all of these perks comes higher prices — and, as many people experienced this past summer, travel chaos.
It comes as little surprise that many Americans are planning fall travel. If you are one of them, read on for tips on how to make the most of shoulder season.
Where to Go in the Fall
Here are five ways to make the most of fall travel.
1. Go where the crowds aren’t
According to TripIt data, the top destinations for American travelers this fall, between September 1 and November 15, are:
- Las Vegas
- New York
- San Francisco
- Los Angeles
Of course, these destinations are popular for a reason: many of them topped the charts for summer holidays like Fourth of July and Labor Day weekend and with cooler temps and prices predicted for fall, it’s easy to see why they’ll continue to attract travelers.
To skip the crowds, head elsewhere: think Detroit instead of Chicago; Park City instead of Denver; or Edinburgh instead of London.
2. Go where your bucket list leads you
For many Americans, that means Europe. According to a recent TripIt survey, of those planning bucket-list trips, more than half (57%) of travelers have international destinations in mind. Nearly a third (30%) are planning trips to Europe.
Why is the fall — and this fall, in particular — a great time to visit Europe? There are typically fewer tourists, as mentioned above, great deals on flights and accommodations, as well as myriad cultural events to experience: Oktoberfest in Germany, Europe’s largest Halloween celebration in Derry, Ireland, Bonfire Night, also called Guy Fawkes Night, in Scotland and much more.
Right now, Americans can also benefit from a near-parity U.S. dollar to euro exchange rate — the lowest it’s been in about two decades.
3. Go where “spooky SZN” prevails
Love Halloween? Want to plan a fall trip with a spooky twist? Here are a few destinations to consider.
Savannah, Georgia: Savannah is one of America’s spookiest cities thanks to its historic cemeteries, reported ghost sightings, and famed voodoo-practicing residents. Take a ghost tour via trolley, hearse, or on foot — there’s even a haunted pub crawl option — to learn about the city’s spooky past and access some of its most haunted locations.
New Orleans, Louisiana: If you love parades, New Orleans, or NOLA, should be high on your fall destinations list. The Krewe of BOO! Halloween Parade, an annual Halloween parade, features floats, marching bands, dance troupes, and walking krewes — all marching through NOLA’s famed French Quarter. This year, the parade takes place on Saturday, October 22.
Hudson Valley, New York: New York’s Hudson Valley is ripe with fall activities that range from festive to downright frightening. On the festive end, opt for a jaunt through Van Cortlandt Manor when it’s dressed up for The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, covered in thousands of hand-carved jack o’lantern displays—from dragons to the Statue of Liberty. Advanced reservations are required, so book your timed entry now. You can also visit the real village of Sleepy Hollow or head to nearby Tarrytown where Sleepy Hollow author Washington Irving lived. His historic home will be decorated for the season.
4. Go where the foliage is peaking
Dreaming of filling your Instagram feed with the colors of the season? This foliage prediction map can help you anticipate when your intended U.S. destination will experience peak fall colors. Toggle the slider to the dates you have in mind for a leaf-peeing trip, and reference the color-coded guide to gauge when you can experience foliage at its most colorful.
5. Go away feeling prepared
No matter where you travel, you want to feel prepared for your trip—and TripIt Pro can help you do just that. Here’s a few ways how:
- This summer’s travel chaos may carry over into the fall. With TripIt Pro, you can be among the first to know about flight delays, cancellations, gate changes, and more. If your flight is delayed or canceled, you can consult TripIt Pro’s Alternate Flights. It instantly finds you new flight options if your current flight has been delayed, canceled, or if you’d just like to leave on another flight.
- If you experience a flight disruption while on a trip to Europe, TripIt will automatically email you if your flight may be eligible for compensation and help you file a claim through AirHelp. Once your claim is filed, AirHelp does the rest of the hard work for you, including the paperwork and communication with the airlines.
- Disruptions aside, TripIt Pro’s International Travel Tools feature makes international travel easier by showing details such as the local currency and exchange rate, for tipping at your destination, embassy information, driving guidance, socket and plug requirements, required vaccinations, and more.
- Whether you’re flying internationally or domestically for your fall trip, add your flight plans to TripIt. With TripIt Pro, you’ll be notified if your airfare drops after you book, in which case you are usually entitled to a reimbursement.
This story originally appeared on the TripIt website.