October is the quintessential month of autumn.
The seasons start to turn, and the scents of fall, from cinnamon brooms to pumpkin spice, welcome you.
Winter isn’t far off — nor are the dark and freezing mornings to come.
It’s the perfect in-between month, not only for weather, but for travel.
While everyone is preparing for the holidays, you could be having the time of your life for a fraction of the cost.
Why Travel in October
It seems like a strange month to travel with the kids back in school and the holidays just around the corner. Yet those are the exact reasons it’s one of the best months to travel.
Most people know that off-season travel has the best deals, but many don’t consider the perks of traveling during shoulder seasons.
Shoulder season is the period between the peak season and the off-season.
It generally means lower prices and fewer crowds.
October comes after the peak summer season, on the heels of Labor Day and ahead of the holiday season, making it ripe for travel.
“Zag when everybody zigs,” said Mark Murphy, travelpulse.com founder.
“Go to places that are just out of their main season, when the crowds are gone, and you’ll have a better experience at a hard-to-beat price.”
Deals, Deals, Deals
Prices turn in the traveler’s favor in October, just like the color of leaves.
Skyscanner determined that September and October will be the cheapest time to fly in 2018.
Which totally makes sense because October follows the post-summer slump for airlines and cruises. Less demand for tickets and tours means cheaper offers to drum up business.
Iceland’s low-cost airline, WOW Airlines, offers $160 or less round-trip flights to select cities in Europe during October.
The same goes for gas prices, too.
Since 1993, gas prices for all petroleum types have averaged about $2.16 a gallon in October, making it the fifth cheapest month in which to travel by car, according to a Penny Hoarder analysis of U.S. Department of Energy data.
Murphy says the end of summer marks the end of peak demand for travel.
“This leads to aggressive pricing, value-added offers and even two-for-one deals the world over,” he said.
There’s hardly a place on Earth where the weather is bad in October.
It’s spring in the Southern Hemisphere and autumn in the Northern. There’s no drastic temperature extreme, making it the perfect Goldilocks in-between.
Autumn brings a wave of colorful foliage down the East Coast along with cooler mornings and nights.
It’s too early to ski, but the first snowfall of the season could come early and bring fresh powder from Killington Peak, Vermont, to the Arapahoe Basin, Colorado.
Wanna watch the northern lights dance across the sky? October is one of the best months to witness them from any arctic viewing point including Norway, Iceland and Alaska.
Just don’t expect to see them on an Alaskan cruise — most of those close up shop come October.
Meanwhile, Caribbean cruises and resorts entice brave travelers with discounted rates since it’s the tail end of hurricane season.
Murphy said the threat of bad weather means better deals for you, like the recent volcano eruptions in Hawaii.
“Bad news means a great deal… Usually nothing close to how they are actually portraying it, leading to a great deal for you,” he said.
School Is in Session
Since October is sandwiched between Labor Day and the holidays, most families stay grounded during the month.
More kids in school means smaller crowds at main attractions.
For folks without kids, October is a prime month to travel if you’re looking for quieter experiences or you just want to see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter without thousands of middle schoolers around.
It’s also prime time for couples and solo travelers to explore the world without sharing a romantic or individual experience with herds of families on spring and summer vacation.
It’s much harder to travel in October if you have children, but if you do, lines at Disney are shorter and you might be the only family on the shoreline for miles.
Murphy suggests Iceland, Europe, the Caribbean and Mexico.
If you’re looking to stay stateside, big cities like New York, San Francisco and Las Vegas offer stellar deals, while national parks like the Grand Canyon and Shenandoah see fewer crowds but have the same great views.
The 10th month also is home to pumpkins galore, apple pickin’, wine tastin’, Halloween Horror Nights, the return of the monarch butterflies in Big Sur and the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
Seriously, why are you staying in again??
The Penny Hoarder data journalist Alex Mahadevan contributed to this post.
Stephanie Bolling is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. October is her favorite month.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.