High season and low season are fairly well-known and straightforward terms in the travel industry; high season represents the ideal conditions and draws a heavy crowd at heavy prices, whereas low season is markedly more quiet with less-than-ideal conditions. True travel gurus, however, sing the praises of "shoulder season". If you're not aware of shoulder season, this block of time varies by location and tends to represent the month or two tapering off of high season. Temperatures are often still beautiful, crowds thin out and prices (both accommodation and airfare!) begin to steadily drop.
When renting a timeshare, you're oftentimes already receiving a very substantial discount as opposed to purchasing a week directly through the resort. When taking advantage of shoulder season as well, you can shave yet another substantial chunk of travel expenses. Those familiar with timeshare seasons will know the demand for the prime season weeks, and how quickly these desirable weeks are booked up and rented by owners. While you might see less inventory for shoulder season weeks due to less perceived demand, often times that silver week can had for a fraction of the price that platinum week is going for! Airfare pricing tends to behave similarly - you'll begin to see a sharp decline in price as you approach the non-holiday seasons in the early fall and spring, when many shoulder seasons tend to lie.
Of course, price isn't the only consideration when booking your vacation - everyone will want to have fun too! Luckily, shoulder seasons tend to ride off of ideal weather with far more bearable crowds. Hawaii, for example, is gorgeous in early March - the big waves as well as many winter beach-goes have dissipated. If the mountains are more your choice, the Rocky Mountain ski destinations are perfect in early April. The powder is still prime for skiing, but with fewer competitors on the slopes. Perhaps the Caribbean and Mexico for November - hurricane season has largely abated, and beaches are still devoid of the holiday crowds.
How do you learn more about when shoulder season falls for your favorite destinations? There are several unofficial calendars out there for many resorts that outline the week designations. Different resort management companies use different designation systems, but generally "red" or "platinum" weeks indicate high season periods, while cooler coolers and lesser metals indicate shoulder or low season. Additionally, a quick internet search for your destination's high season will outline the busiest times.
Next time you're looking at planning a vacation, first check to see when shoulder season falls! Your vacation might be more affordable, more relaxing and all the better for it!