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When's the time for a vacation

The first step to planning a vacation isn't booking a hotel room or scoping out the best beach spot, but deciding on the perfect time of the year to take off. However, picking a vacation time can be influenced by many factors, such as money, weather and school schedules, making it a much more stressful task than you thought it would be. But don't fret - by weighing all your options and doing some research, you will be able to clear your schedule in no time.

Here are some travel tips to finding the perfect time of year for your next vacation:

Offseason travel
Travelling during the offseason can be beneficial for many reasons. This is the time of year where hotels and airfares tend to be at their least expensive, while tourist attractions are sure to be less crowded than the busy summer months. For those who are planning trips on a tight budget, travelling during the off season may be the best time. However, there are some other factors to consider, including weather. For some regions of the world, like Europe or North America, the offseason means much cooler temperatures, icy or snowy conditions and shorter, darker days. Some tourist attractions may also have reduced hours because of low turn-out. If you're an experienced traveller and don't mind braving unpredictable weather conditions or skipping out on some sites, then travelling during the offseason may be for you.

Not all off-seasons are during the winter. The Christmas holiday season, for example, brings many tourists to destinations like New York City and Paris, despite these cities' frigid temperatures during the wintertime. Similarly, some summer holidays are major travelling times for beachside locales and summer resorts. While these high-traffic holiday seasons many be tempting, it often means higher airfare and hotel prices, as well as crowded beaches, swimming pools and other attractions. However, taking a vacation during a holiday may be a good idea for families who want to give their children a special trip to see one-of-a-kind sites, such as the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in New York, or for those who aren't on a budget.

Shoulder season
If you want reasonable ticket and hotel prices and moderate weather, than the shoulder season - the time between a destination's high and off seasons - may be your best vacation date. Shoulder seasons can switch from location to location. In many European countries, shoulder season is both in the spring and the fall. For many ski resorts, April is the shoulder season, while tropical locales like Hawaii see fewer visitors from March through June. Not only will shoulder season save you money on amenities, but it will also allow you to see a city or country's biggest attractions without worrying about reduced hours or long lines.

Work and school schedules
Work and school responsibilities can be one of the biggest factors in choosing your vacation time. It's best to avoid taking a vacation during your company's busy period, which can leave both you and your coworkers scrambling. Additionally, be aware of your vacation days - when you ask for time off, make sure you're taking the exact number of days allowed and not one more.

If you're travelling with school-age children, then their education should always come first. However, this could make it more difficult to travel, as many of their breaks coincide with the busiest travelling times of the year, including Christmas, spring break and summer recess. When taking a vacation during these seasons, try to be strategic. Go to the beach or amusement on a weekday so it's less crowded, or see if you can do a mini-weekend vacation during a shoulder season instead.