The FloQ

Travel Insights Blog

The FloQ

Travel Insights Blog

Is Fall Really The Best Time To Travel?

Sep 29, 2023

Katya Lopatko

Tips & Tricks


8 min

This travel season, fall is the new summer. Why? Why now? Has summer always been overrated? Read on to find out.

Unsplash / Ricardo Gomez Angel

Summer may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to stash away your suitcase. With post-pandemic travel at record highs, the traditional peak season of June, July and August is increasingly spilling over into fall. What was once a stay-at-home slump between summer vacation and winter holidays is quickly becoming the hot new time to travel.

For some, fall has long been the hidden gem of travel time. Known as the “shoulder season” between the high and low seasons of summer and winter (in many parts of the world, at least), fall offers many of the perks of summer — nice weather, long days, without the crowds and sky-high price tag.

For the past two seasons, many more people are hopping on the fall travel train. There are a few reasons for this trend: first, post-pandemic travel demand is pushing up summer prices, which are already high. Those who have the flexibility to schedule their travel time throughout the year — often younger, childless people who don’t have to plan around school schedules — are opting for September or October trips instead of July and August. And with the rise of remote work, more people can squeeze in a bonus workcation without necessarily taking paid time off.

As more of us shift travel plans into fall, we might even start to wonder what was so great about summer in the first place. Today, the traditional perks of summer travel are becoming too much of a good thing. With intensifying climate change, long, sunny days give way to scorching heat waves and extreme storms, and the fun hustle and bustle of high season can quickly turn into insane crowds and long lines.

The Louvre Museum in Paris in August. Unsplash / Alicia Steels

On the flip side, fall brings cool, crispy weather, with just a hint of summer warmth, and enough daylight for a full day of exploring. Business is slowing down, which means you can do and see more in a day without fighting through crowds and long lines. As a bonus, you can feel good about yourself for not contributing to overtourism, most intense during high season. Many seasonal tourist spots are still open, and summer events like concerts, festivals, and outdoor dining are replaced by no-less-charming fall versions: think apple and pumpkin patches, Oktoberfest and other festivals, prime wine and beer tasting season, as well as the kickoff of sports (football, basketball, hockey) and cultural (ballet, opera) seasons. Plus, with bright leaves and cozy decorations, many spots are famously at their best in the fall.

Montreal, Canada. Unsplash / Nathalia Segato

Still, for many of us, the idea of summer as a time for travel and adventure is baked into the collective imagination, often in coming-of-age narratives. From raunchy teen flicks like Wet Hot American Summer, to classic love stories like The Notebook, or indie dramas like Call Me By Your Name, or even artsy French films by New Wave director Éric Rohmer (Pauline at the Beach, A Tale of Summer), movies about summer form a whole genre in Western culture.

There’s a pretty simple explanation for this: school schedules. As we get older, memories of childhood summer vacations spill over into our adult decisions, whether we know it or not. Maybe, deep down, when we book a vacation trip in August, we’re really longing to recreate that carefree feeling of being ten years old, blissfully unaware of SATs and Roth IRAs, eating ice cream and running around outside until dark. Even as adults free to take our precious vacation time any time of year, we go for what we know.

Vintage summer vacation. Unsplash / Annie Spratt

And who knows — maybe we do recapture some of that magical, carefree childhood feeling on our summer getaways, even if it now takes a flight and two aperol spritzes. It’s a small price to pay for the total (if temporary) absence of anxiety. Likewise, thanks to years in the school system, fall’s changing leaves sends a powerful signal to our brains: time to get back to the grind.

Then again, maybe there’s something deeper going on. After all, school vacations could have been scheduled for the fall, winter, or spring, but somehow, society chose summer. I’m no scientist, but maybe nature’s rhythms have somehow been hardwired into us. As the days get shorter and the nights cooler, we get the signal to wrap up our galavanting and fly back home to our nests, stock up on sweaters, snacks, and pumpkin-scented candles, and settle into the couch to rewatch Gilmore Girls, maybe even with a cuffing-season partner of choice.

South Royalton, Vermont, the town in the Gilmore Girls opening credits. Wikimedia Commons / Anthony Quintano

Then again, maybe not. Is summer travel overrated and outdated? Is fall the hot new travel season? I don’t know; there’s a good case on each side.

In any case, whether you’ve been holding out, waiting for airline prices to drop, or simply want to squeeze in another trip off your bucket list before the end of the year, now is a great time to schedule that getaway you’ve been eyeing. As always, just be sure to do your research before you set off — so you don’t accidentally get caught in the middle of hurricane season, or end up with no dinner reservations and crazy Uber surcharges because you scheduled your trip the day of the Taylor Swift concert.

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