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Hey, you! 

Looking for the most complete guide on the best places to travel each month of the year?

I’m Norbert Figueroa – full-time traveler, part-time architect, and creator of Globotreks. I’ve been traveling full-time since 2010 and keeping a record of it here in my personal blog.

In this article, I’m going to share my top destinations for each month that I’ve personally been to. 

I’ll break down where to go, what I like about each destination, and other insider tidbits like price, safety, and fun things to do in each place.

Monkey Beach, Phi Phi, Thailand
This wouldn’t be a proper post without a monkey in it. So, here are three!

I’ll cover:

  • My top picks for your next trip by month
  • Different locations for different seasons
  • Budget alternatives for popular destinations
  • Some highlights from my favorite trips
  • Where to AVOID each month for weather, price, or safety reasons
  • And some tips for planning the perfect trip at the end

Ready to take your dream vacation?

Here are my top places to travel for each month of the year:

Quick Overview – My Top Destinations For Each Month

  • January – Northern Europe for the Northern Lights 
  • February – Paris for architecture, serenity, and cheesy romance, or Rio de Janeiro for the world’s largest carnival celebration
  • March – New York City, Chicago, or Boston for St. Patrick’s Day, or Egypt for a pleasant-weather archeological experience
  • April – Tokyo for cherry blossoms
  • May – National parks in the USA
  • June – South America for trekking in perfect weather or Iceland for the midnight sun
  • July – Indonesia for scuba diving
  • August – Edinburgh, Scotland for sightseeing
  • September – New England, USA, for the fall season
  • October – Munich or Vienna for Oktoberfest
  • November – Chiang Mai, Thailand for perfect weather, food, and festivals
  • December – Miami, Florida, for crazy New Year’s parties, or Chile and Argentina for the perfect Patagonian experience
Travel World Map with Seasons

January (The Best Month to Travel – Super Cheap!)

January is my absolute favorite month to travel, hands down.

Why?

Because. It’s. Cheap!

January is off peak for most tourist destinations, so you’ll enjoy a ton of benefits you don’t get any other month:

  • Cheaper flights
  • Cheaper hotels
  • Less crowded beaches, slopes, and tourist attractions

It’s perfect for anyone traveling on a budget.

Further Reading: Check out my complete guide for traveling on a budget to learn how to plan, save, and book dirt-cheap vacations any time of the year on a shoestring budget.

Northern Lights at Kirkjufell in Iceland
The northern lights at Kirkjufell in Iceland

Best Cold Weather Destination: Northern Europe (Norway, Sweden, And Finland)

Northern Europe is the best place to travel in January for one reason: The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).

This is the holy grail of skywatching. 

Imagine seeing infinite dancing ribbons of light through your skyview ceiling at a resort in the Arctic (with a cozy fire crackling)

It’s a life-changing experience. 

During the day, you can ride a sled pulled by huskies, chill in a sauna, and check out the stars from a planetarium while waiting for night to fall and the show to begin.

Top Destinations:

  • Kakslauttanen, Finland
  • Swedish Lapland
  • Reykjavik, Iceland

Honorable Mention: Austria (expensive) or Czech Republic (much cheaper) for skiing.

Best Warm Weather Destination: Southeast Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, or Malaysia)

January is primetime for Southeast Asia (SEA). I’m still not sure why I don’t live there all year round.

While everyone else is freezing back home, you’ll be sipping on a $.50 coconut while laying on the beach in tropical paradise. 

SEA is the perfect blend of everything you could want in a vacation spot:

  • Perfect weather (sunny, not too humid, minimal rain)
  • Unrivaled safety
  • Tons of things to do
  • Half the price or even less than European or American destinations
Koh Nang Yuan's Viewpoint from the top of the island
The beautiful islands of Koh Nang Yuan in Thailand

Thailand

The land of smiles, cheap resorts, and the best food on Earth. Nowhere else comes close to this place. It’s like living in a weird Matrix-style fantasy land full of spicy food, cheap drinks, and beaches that stretch for miles.

You’ve got to check out:

  • Phuket: A bit pricey for SEA, but it’s super westernized, the beaches are amazing, and flights are dirt cheap in January.
  • Koh Samui: Less crowded than Phuket and a hell of a lot cheaper. It’s perfect if you want a more relaxing vibe and fewer crowds. Plus the beaches are unbeatable.
  • Krabi: Amazing spot that’s perfect for exotic beaches, rugged hiking, and hanging out and feeding monkeys. Krabi has some of the most spectacular rock formations I’ve ever seen in the world.

Further Reading: Check out my guide on the best islands to visit while in Thailand, so you don’t get caught in any tourists traps while on vacation.

Angkor Wat in Cambodia

Cambodia

If you’re on a budget and want to avoid massive crowds of foreign tourists, Cambodia is a way better option than Thailand. It’s one of my favorite off-the-beaten-path destinations.

It’s got the same weather, beaches, and tropical vibes as Thailand, but it’s not quite as developed.

That means you get a similar experience at a much cheaper price. I’ve found Cambodia to be about 20%-30% cheaper than Thailand. You can still find beach resorts in tourist cities for $50 – $75 per night, which is insane.

Here are some of my favorite spots:

  • Koh Rong: Cambodia’s version of Phuket, just without the high prices. January is the perfect month to visit: low humidity, clear skies, and perfect temperatures all month.
  • Sihanoukville: Not the prettiest place on Earth, but the beaches are great, it’s cheap, and there’s plenty of nightlife (especially if you love casinos).
  • Koh Tonsay: “Rabbit Island” is a secluded little spot in the Gulf of Thailand famous for laid back vibes, jungle trekking, and pristine waters perfect for swimming. There aren’t many people here at all. So, if peaceful nights are more your thing, this is a great alternative to Koh Rong.

Malaysia

Malaysia isn’t really known as a tourist destination, but you’d be surprised at how beautiful this country is. It’s also not really a party destination, so if you’re planning a family vacation, this place is perfect.

Give these places a try:

  • Langkawi: A special economic area of Malaysia with beautiful views, cheaper prices, and mountains covered in monkeys that are perfect for hiking.
  • Penang: The ideal blend of colonial history, tropical weather, and food from China, India, and Malaysia.
  • Perhentian Islands: Not as well known as other destinations. Ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving without having to wait in line or pay huge prices for hotels.
Puerto Escondido in Mexico

Honorable Mention – Puerto Escondido, Mexico (Great Budget Option)

This little beach town on Mexico’s Pacific Coast is near and dear to my heart. 

I love the thatched roofs, palm trees, and old timey beach vibes. 

It’s got everything you could possibly want like swimming, steep cliffs for sightseeing, and great waves for surfing. And it’s all a lot cheaper than the US – and closer than Asia if you’re in the Western Hemisphere. You can find decent spots for less than $50 a night.

This town is just one of many cheap places to visit in Mexico if you’re looking for a budget vacation.

Best Destinations if You Want to Go Off-the-beaten Path: Antarctica and Bolivia

Elephant Island in Antarctica

Antarctica

Antarctica is a great destination in January (and December too). And yes, I know, you probably never considered visiting the seventh continent as a tourist. But, the days are warm (compared to winter!) and clear, and sea ice won’t hamper your trip.

My experience there this past January was beyond what I expected. We saw so many penguins, whales, and seals that I completely lost count of them after a few hours of exploring.

And to top it off, we did the polar plunge, went camping, and spent New Year’s on the continent! Those were unforgettable experiences.

The only way to get to Antarctica is by boat, so check out these cruise options to plan your trip to the “last continent.”

Bolivia

Bolivia, on the other hand, is in the height of the rainy season, but don’t let that put you off! You can visit the Salar de Uyuni – the largest salt flats in the world – and take those unreal pictures you see on Instagram where it appears like people are walking on air!

This is because of the thin layer of water that covers the salt flats. The effect is an optical illusion of a mirror stretching all the way to the horizon, reflecting the sky on the ground.

Countries to Avoid in January

Unless you enjoy being cold to your bones (or want to see the Northern Lights), I’d recommend skipping most of the countries in the Northern Hemisphere.

Other countries to avoid due to it being the rainy season are:

  • Indonesia
  • Papua New Guinea
  • East Timor
  • Polynesia

The following African island nations are experiencing hurricane season, so give them a skip too:

  • Madagascar
  • Reunion
  • Seychelles
  • Mauritius

February

February is pretty much just January, only shorter. 

All of the places I mentioned in the above section still apply. I definitely recommend Southeast Asia to escape the winter blues or Central Europe for skiing.

However, it is the month of romance, so some of the best places to travel in February are going to fit that theme.

Eiffel Tower at Sunset in Paris

Best Cold Weather Destination: France

It really doesn’t get more romantic than France. And since peak times for travel are in summer, you’ll have the place to yourself in February. 

France has literally everything you could possibly want (besides cheap prices): amazing food, great wine, history, slopes, and romantic views pretty much everywhere you look.

Here are my top spots:

  • Paris: It’s more than just the Eiffel Tower. Paris has incredible architecture like Montmartre and Notre Dame, and roadside cafes perfect for coffee and wine at any time of day. And, YES, Paris is totally safe. Don’t worry.
  • French Alps: The Alps have some of the biggest ski areas on Earth, and some of the most luxurious resorts of any location in the world.
  • Marseille: The perfect place to escape to on the Mediterranean in winter. The temperatures are pretty mild, and the crowds are nowhere to be seen. It’s the ideal time to explore and take in the history and culture.

Best Warm Weather Destination: South America

One word: Carnival. Holy Sh***, you can’t miss this experience.

There’s just something about tens of thousands of people dancing, singing, and parading through the streets that gets my blood flowing.

Sambodromo Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
At the Sambadromo in Rio de Janeiro during Carnival.

The cool thing about Carnival in Rio De Janeiro is that all the city’s Samba (dance) schools compete against each other in the Sambadrome to see who the true champs are. It’s mesmerizing.

This is one of those things you’ll tell your grandkids about one day.

Other than Carnival, South America has some of the best wine, trekking, and hiking anywhere on Earth. And it won’t be as crowded or expensive as the US or Europe.

My top spots are:

  • Rio: I already mentioned it above. Carnival, Brazilian BBQ, endless white sand beaches – it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
  • Chile: Wine-lovers paradise. Chile is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of wine. And it’s got one of the longest and most diverse stretches of coastline in the world, so it’s perfect for beach and ocean lovers. My favorite spot is Torres Del Paine for trekking.
  • Argentina: Argentina might be my favorite country in South America. The national parks are second to none. Patagonia is basically the end of the Earth. Everyone should take a tour of this paradise once in their lives.

Further Reading: Safety is the #1 concern of every traveler to Carnival. I totally get it. Rio is definitely safe IF you follow the right precautions. I highly recommend you read this guide on safety in Rio to make sure you don’t fall victim to petty street crime…or worse.

Torres del Paine W hike
The famous towers at Torres del Paine in Chile

Honorable Budget Mention – Africa

Africa is the new tourism frontier. 

It’s still mostly unexplored by Western tourists, and even some of the most popular hotspots are still empty compared to SEA or Europe (especially in South Africa). Plus, it’s way safer than most media would have you believe.

The continent is massive, but it’s relatively easy to hop around.

Try out:

  • For History Lovers: Cairo and Luxor in Egypt. Check out my guide to a quick 3-day trip to Cairo here.
  • For Nature And Wine Lovers: Cape Town, South Africa (who wouldn’t love swimming with penguins?). South Africa also has some breathtaking landscapes that have to be seen to be believed.
  • For Beach Lovers: Eastern Tanzania. Home to lush islands and cheap resorts with stunning views.
  • For Once-In-A-Lifetime Experiences: Victoria falls is a spectacular waterfall that’s one of the largest natural wonders on Earth. It’s just a short trip from Cape Town.
Sphinx in Cairo

Countries to Avoid in February

Similar to January, several Asian countries are still in the height of rainy season, while African Islands are fighting their way through cyclone season:

  • Indonesia
  • Papua New Guinea
  • East Timor
  • Polynesia
  • Madagascar
  • Seychelles
  • Reunion
  • Mauritius

March

March is an ideal time to travel to popular destinations that are just starting to warm up. You’ll get the best of both worlds: tolerable weather, fewer tourists, and lower prices.

The Best Warm Weather Destination: India And The Mediterranean 

I tried to choose just one of these but couldn’t. So, it’s a tie. 

Southern Europe is absolutely beautiful in March – the days are getting longer and the cities are starting to come to life. 

The weather is warm enough to spend most of the day outside browsing ancient ruins, and since it’s not high season, you won’t need to take out a reverse mortgage to stay at a bed and breakfast either.

The Colosseum in Rome, Italy

Best For Weather And Culture – The Mediterranean (Cities)

  • Italy: Rome is amazing in March. The Italian versions of Mardi Gras and Carnival typically fall early in the month. Plus, you’ll have the Colosseum and piazzas mostly to yourself too.
  • Greece: March is the perfect time to check out islands like Mykonos and Thessaloniki before the crowds come and ruin everything. March is “peak” off-season, so flights and hotels will be a lot cheaper.
  • Croatia: Dubrovnik is perfect in March. The temperature is around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10-11 Celsius). The city is unbearable in the high season, but in March, ferries, hotels, and flights are well below average. And the city won’t be crowded at all.

Best Budget Alternative For Weather And Culture – India

If you’re looking for a great blend of beautiful festivals, tolerable weather, and lower prices, this is the ideal time to head to India.

Temperatures won’t be literally so hot you can’t breathe yet (~30 Celsius/85 Fahrenheit), and March is the time of Holi festival. Holi (the festival of love) is one of the most revered and sacred festivals in Indian Culture. 

It’s a great time to gather with others and forget all of your troubles. The food and vibrant colors aren’t bad either.

Holi Festival in India
Holi Festival in India

Pro Tip: Mumbai is the #1 destination in India for Holi. You can have one of the best culinary experiences of your life for a fraction the price of back home. The Maldives is great too. Warm weather, clear skies, cheap prices – what’s not to like?

Further Reading: Did you know that India is the wettest inhabited country on Earth? Before traveling to one of the most fascinating countries on Earth, you should really brush up on facts about India first.

The Best Cold Weather Destination – The Northeastern USA

There’s never a bad time to visit cities like New York or Boston, but March is a special time for visiting NYC and New England for a few reasons.

If you’ve ever wanted to visit these cities, I highly recommend doing it now. There are a few reasons for this:

  • Fewer crowds (these places are overrun during the summer, fall, and Christmas seasons)
  • Decent weather
  • Saint Patrick’s day

The massive Irish diaspora celebrates its heritage in the only way they know how: drinking beer and painting the city green.

Even if you don’t drink, the decorations, parades, and Irish inspired food are enough to make this the best destination in the US during March.

Check out:

  • New York City: The Big (Green) Apple. The Paddy’s Day Parade is out of control. I don’t care how corporate it is, it’s amazing.
  • Boston: It doesn’t get more Irish in America than Boston. Boston has the highest percentage of Irish-Americans of any US city. The parade here is as authentic as it gets.
  • Providence: You’ve probably never heard of this city in Rhode Island, but Providence is an absolute gem. And it’s only about an hour from Boston. The ocean views are spectacular and it’s got some of the best seafood you’ll ever try.

Further Reading: St. Patrick’s Day can be expensive, especially in Boston. Check out this guide to finding the best places to stay in Boston, so you don’t spend your entire budget on your hotel.

Galapagos on a Budget - Bartolome Island
The “it” view of The Galapagos, as seen from the top of Bartolome Island

Honorable Mention – The Galapagos Islands

If you wake up every morning thinking “ugh, I really wish it was exotic bird mating season right now”, then the Galapagos Islands in March are absolutely perfect.

It’s the rainy season this time of year, but it’s not that bad. Also, more rain equals fewer people. 

You’ll have the bird mating season spectacle all to yourself (score!). Plus, this is one of the best times to see the iguanas, hawks, and Magnificent Frigatebirds (what?!) without human interference.

Further Reading: I’ve been to the Galapagos on a tiny budget before, so I know how to have a great experience WITHOUT spending a ton of money. Read this guide on planning a budget Galapagos trip to learn how I got cheap airfares and budget hotel deals before booking your trip. It could save you thousands of dollars.

Countries to Avoid in March

Countries in Central and East Africa are at the height of their rainy season, so skip the safari in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

The African Islands mentioned above (Mauritius, Reunion, etc.) are still battling hurricanes but are slowly coming out of the season.


April

April is a great travel month for sunny islands, breathtaking cherry blossoms, and pristine nature. 

One of my absolute favorite travel destinations is idyllic in April. If you’re a nerd, you’re going to love it. Keep reading to find out where it is.

The Best Island Vacation Destination – The Mediterranean (Islands)

April is the absolute best time to travel to islands like:

  • Malta
  • Cyprus
  • Crete
  • The Canary Islands (Spain)

The weather is absolutely incredible and there are barely any crowds.

In Malta, April is full of perfectly sunny days or very light showers at worst. Crete, Cyprus, and the Canaries are pretty much the same.

Malta is an interesting blend of European and North African culture, and is home to some of the most amazing ancient history anywhere on Earth.

The monolithic structures on the islands of Gozo and Malta are so old, the ROMANS referred to them as ancient. Now THAT is ancient.

Cherry Blossom in Tokyo, Japan

The Best Destination For Nature Lovers – Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo is the world’s most popular destination for cherry blossoms (Sakura) in April. They are magical in every sense of the word. Imagine sitting under a majestic cherry blossom having a picnic in the world’s largest metropolitan area.

Japanese people even have a word dedicated to sitting beneath sakura trees and having a picnic (Hanami). Definitely check out Ueno Park for some of the best picnicking you’ll ever experience in your life.

Honorable Mentions For Cherry Blossoms

  • Taipei, Taiwan: Taipei is a foodie paradise and super affordable considering how developed the country is. It’s a great budget alternative if Japan isn’t in your price range. I’ve found hotels in Taipei to be up to 50% cheaper than in Tokyo.
  • Washington, D.C: Not exactly a stunning, tropical Asian city with food to die for. But Washington is actually one of the best places in the world to check out cherry blossoms. Thousands of tourists flock to the capital to see the world-famous National Cherry Blossom Festival, which celebrates the blooming of the Japanese cherry trees the city received as a gift from Tokyo in 1912.

Further Reading: Japan isn’t the cheapest place on Earth, but I learned some awesome budget hacks like finding meals for $3 and booking budget accommodation. Check out my 10 tips for traveling Japan on a budget here.

Honorable Mention – New Zealand

Lord of the Rings in New Zealand

New Zealand is for sure one of my favorite countries on Earth.

Not for the scenery, lifestyle, or amazing indigenous culture (which I love all of them). But because it’s where they made the Lord of the Rings.

New Zealand is amazing in April because Autumn is just starting. It’s ideal if you’re into sunny days, hiking, and watching the leaves turn golden brown. And things won’t be nearly as busy as in the high season. I highly recommend visiting the South Island like Queenstown or Milford Sound.

Countries to Avoid in April

It is a good idea to skip Southeast Asia as it is incredibly hot and humid in April. Kenya, Tanzania, and other East African countries are also unpleasant because of how much rain they experience in April.

If you hate the humidity, don’t include South America in your travel itinerary either.


May

May is your last chance to travel before high season kicks off, so better book your tickets now.

This month, we’re going to focus on the Northern Hemisphere with one exception – the most remarkable place I’ve ever seen in Africa (skip down to the bottom of this section to read it).

The reason I love traveling the Northern part of the world in late spring is because it’s the best weather of the year (and not quite as expensive or crowded as peak season).

Prague View from Above

The Best Destination For History And Culture – Central And Eastern Europe

May is your last chance to see living history in some of Europe’s most vibrant cities without the summer crowds. If you’ve been itching to see the Old World, now is a great time to do it before the sunny weather brings hoards of sightseers.

You absolutely have to see:

Prague, Czech Republic 

Prague is one of the most beautiful cities on Earth, hands down, but May is my favorite month to visit for the world-famous Prague Spring Festival. There are more than 50 musical events for all tastes.

Budapest, Hungary 

Budapest’s architecture is stunning, and the weather in May is perfect. 20 degrees Celsius (~70 Fahrenheit) is ideal for strolling the massive boulevards and checking out the living history from Roman, Soviet, and modern times.

Further Reading: I fell in love with Budapest as soon as I set foot in the city. Check out my 20 best things to see in Budapest to discover my favorite locations and make your trip unforgettable.

The Best Destination For Nature Lovers – The USA

If you’re a nature lover, you absolutely have to see US National Parks in May. It’s the best month to visit. You’ll never get a better chance. 

The weather and prices are great. And you won’t freeze to death or fight with fanny-pack warriors just to get a shot of a wild buffalo.

You absolutely have to see:

  • Yellowstone: Perfect weather, no crowds, animals emerging from their shelters, and, most importantly, no road closures – nothing more to say. This is the best time to see Grizzly Bears and Bison by the herd.
  • Yosemite: Even Yosemite itself says May is the best time of the year to visit. The flowers are just starting to bloom, the waterfalls look amazing from all the thawing ice, and the hotels inside the valley are much, much cheaper than they are from June to August. Pro Tip: Try to visit toward the end of May. Some hiking trails and roads might still be closed at the beginning of the month from snow.
  • Bryce Canyon (Utah): Bryce is way up in the mountains, so it doesn’t even open until the beginning of May. Get there right as everything opens up, and you’ll get the cheapest prices of the year.
Backpacking in US Yosemite Half Dome

The Best Destination For Mountain Lovers – The Himalayas

Personally, I love visiting mountainous countries in early May (the first half of the month is way better)

You still get some of that “oh, I’m in the mountains!” feeling without the “oh, I have hypothermia” feeling that usually comes with it.

Nepal

Ever wanted to hike to Everest Base Camp or do the Annapurna Circuit (one of the most exciting treks on Earth)?

Now is the time.

May is just warm enough to trek in the mountains without freezing to death, and it’s dry, so you won’t have to worry about rain ruining the day.

The Annapurna Circuit is amazing this time of year. The peaks and valleys are breathtaking, and all the guest houses and tea shops along the way are a lot cheaper than normal.

Tiger's nest, Bhutan
The Tiger’s Nest, nestle atop a mountain (at about 3,100 meters above sea level). This is the most famous site in Bhutan.

Bhutan

The hidden kingdom…

Bhutan is one of the last uncharted destinations on Earth.

Visit this place, and you’ll be one of the precious few that have ever set foot here. It’s like stepping back in time.

Bhutan is a small landlocked nation steeped in mystery, and one of the few places I can say are truly magical. Here you can find temples untouched by time, tiger’s nests (little huts hanging off mountains), and Teschu festivals – dance ceremonies where monks dress as demons!

Further Reading: Visas, regulations, and fees can be VERY confusing for Bhutan, so please read my guide to planning a trip to Bhutan first before you go. It’ll make everything crystal clear (SOURCE: I ACTUALLY visited there).

Pro Tip: If the Himalayas aren’t your thing, then I recommend Indonesia. It’s perfect for anyone who loves incredible food, beautiful beaches, scuba diving in pristine waters, and parties that last all night. 

Sossusvlei Sand Dunes

Honorable Mention – Sossusvlei, Namibia

Sossusvlei is officially known as the Land That Time Forgot. It’s one of the most remarkable and unique places I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a ton of places).

This place is the largest conservation area in all of Africa. I truly felt like I was on Mars or something. Check out these massive red sand dunes while you’re there.

NOTE: Yes, it’s totally safe, and it’s not that hard to get to. There are tons of flights to Winhoek (the capital). From there, it’s just a short car ride.

Countries to Avoid in May

It’s a good idea to avoid India and Sri Lanka in May. The monsoon season is just starting, and it can get pretty miserable there.

If you do want to visit India, stay close to the Himalayan region. There is much less rain there this time of year.

East Africa is coming out of its wet season now, but you’ll still get drenched most days.

The Caribbean can also be a bit wet in May, but the warm weather makes it enjoyable despite the rain.

From May onwards, Egypt and the Middle East will experience heat waves, making it a very unpleasant destination.


June

June is the start of the tourism season in Europe, so best to avoid the crowds. I highly recommend traveling the Southern Hemisphere this time of year to get the best mix of price, weather, and lack of annoying tourists.

Machu Picchu Ruins, Peru
The impressive Inca ruins of Machu Picchu.

The Best Destination For For Hiking – South America

If stunning nature, hiking trails, and tolerable weather are your thing, I’ve got 3 prime destinations for you:

  • Brazil: Brazil is perfect this time of year weatherwise. It’s warm and dry with fairly low humidity. I highly recommend Iguazu Falls, the largest falls in the world.
  • Peru: Peru is a lot cooler than other destinations in June, making it the best time to visit places like Cusco for Ancient Incan ruins. If Machu Picchu is on your bucket list, tick it off now. It’s peak season, but the weather won’t get any better.
  • Colombia: Tourist hotspots like Medellin are idyllic in June. It’s the best weather of the year. The nights are cool and clear, and the days are warm and temperate. Nightlife in the backpacker neighborhood is at its peak too, so bring some electrolyte packets and Advil.

The Best Destination For a Beach Vacation – Africa

Africa is a great alternative to June in Europe. The beaches are way nicer, it’s more exotic, and you won’t have to pay both arms and legs for a tiny hostel next to a rave.

June is a great time to visit Tanzania, including Zanzibar. This place is relatively dry compared to other times of the year, and has some of the most stunning beaches and wildlife around.

Once you’re done on the beach, book a safari into the African savannah.

You can see the Great Wildebeest Migration, the beaches of Zanzibar, and Serengeti National Park (this is a bucket list item for anyone). It’s the real life Lion King basically (I think that’s where they filmed it…).

Kendwa Beach, Zanzibar, Tanzania

Further Reading: I was absolutely blown away by Zanzibar’s unique culture, nature, and local tribes. Read this to learn how Zanzibar worked its way into my heart in just a few short days.

The Best Destination For Festivals – Canada

Did you know that the United States of America isn’t the only country in North America?

The cool thing about Canada is that it feels like the USA, but has a much more cosmopolitan and European feel. Plus, the weather will be warm, so you won’t freeze to death.

Canada is perfect for a festival vacation in late June for two reasons:

  • The Montreal Jazz Festival – The most famous music festival in all of North America. It broke the Guinness World Record for largest music festival ever in 2004. If that’s not a good reason to go to Montreal, I don’t know what is.
  • Canada Day – It’s technically July 1st, but celebrations usually start days beforehand. If having a few drinks and watching hockey sounds fun, this is the perfect time of the year to do it.

Countries to Avoid in June

Both the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa are experiencing extreme heat waves during the summer months.

India and Sri Lanka are in the midst of the monsoon season, so it is best to avoid them as well.


July (A Great Month for Safaris)

July is a great time to travel, as long as you avoid the summer crowds in Europe and the USA. If you know where to go, you can have an awesome, affordable vacation in some of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Pulau Padar at Komodo National Park, Indonesia
Pulau Padar at Komodo National Park, Indonesia

The Best Destination For Trekking And Diving – Indonesia

Indonesia is one of the top destinations in July, because the rest of Southeast Asia is getting rained on heavily. Yes, the crowds are Hell in places like Bali, but there are a few hidden gems that haven’t been overrun.

The best spots for diving are Gili Trawangan and Lombok. Thousands of divers flock here every year during the summer for the beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters, and unique experiences (automobile traffic is mostly prohibited).

For trekking, I definitely recommend Mount Bromo, Mount Batur, or Mount Ijen (famous for its blue fire!). And if you want to explore a bit deeper, head to the stunning islands at the Komodo National Park, where you’ll see, you know, the Komodo Dragons!

Further Reading: I climbed Mount Batur, an active volcano, with a local guide. Read all about this exhilarating experience here.

And for big cities, try Medan or Palembang (the “Venice of the East”).

Safari at Chobe National Park in Botswana

The Best Destination For Adventure – Africa

July is the ideal time to visit the Serengeti since it’s the peak of the Great Migration. 

The Great Migration is the time of year when millions of gazelles, zebras, and wildebeest migrate across the African Plains in search of greener pastures.

While you’re at it, Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve is also stunning this time of year. It’s right near Tanzania, and is home to lions, cheetahs, elephants, and hippos. It’s the perfect place to do an affordable, safe safari in great weather conditions.

The Best Island Destinations – The Seychelles And Fiji

They might be far away if you live in the US and Europe, but further you get from those places, the smaller the crowds.

Here’s why these two countries are must sees in July:

  1. The Seychelles: The Paradise Isles are some of the most beautiful islands I’ve ever seen. The Seychelles is full of unspoiled nature, pristine waters, and untamed jungles. It’s like a little hideaway where no one will ever find you. You can learn how to travel the Seychelles on a budget here.
  2. Fiji: I’m a massive fan of the bottled water. The island isn’t too bad either. July is Bula Festival time. It’s a yearly festival dedicated to Fijian culture, so expect great food, music, dancing, and welcoming locals.
Vestrahorn Mountains in Iceland

Best Destination for a Cool Summer Trip – Iceland

Ok, I’ll contradict myself by telling you to go to Europe in the middle of the peak season, but Iceland is so stunning that it’ll be a crime not to visit it during its best weather month.

While most tourists stay in the south and west regions visiting Reykjavik, Vik, the Glacier Lagoon, and the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, you should, sure, hit those spots too, but then head to the Westfjords and the northern side of Iceland to visit places like Akureyri, Askja, Studlagil Canyon, and more.

My drive to Askja has been one of the most beautiful experiences anywhere in the world. And, the Westfjords have some of the most jaw-dropping mountain scenes in all of Iceland. Trust me, I’ve visited Iceland six times and counting.

If you want to plan a great road trip there, check out this other post where I detail everything you should know.

Countries to Avoid in July

Sadly, India, Sri Lanka, and most of Southeast Asia is still experiencing monsoons.

The Middle East, Northern Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa are dangerously hot in July. Senegal is especially harsh, with extreme heat waves and heavy downpours.


August

August is the end of high season in Europe, but it’s still busy and expensive.

However, if you know where to go, you can find some amazing festivals, cheap deals, and pleasant weather. 

Set your sites on some out-of-the way spots.

Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh

The Best Destination For Sightseeing – Edinburgh, Scotland

Scotland is bursting with activity in August, and the nights seem to last forever and ever. Sundown isn’t normally until around 8:30 – 9:00 pm.

The cool thing about visiting Scotland at this time of year is that Scottish schools are mostly back in session, but all of the major attractions still have late summer hours.

So, you won’t be stuck in those long, annoying queues behind screaming kids that we all hate.

That, plus August is time for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Saying this is the largest festival in the world wouldn’t do it justice. It’s MASSIVE. It’s the largest celebration of arts and culture in the world. It runs the entire month with more than 3,000 shows.

Where else can you see tributes to Buffy The Vampire Slayer, re-enactments of Shakespear with a comedic twist, and parodies of TV classics like Murder, she didn’t write?

Nowhere…that’s where!

If festivals aren’t your thing, you can always take a bike tour along the coasts under clear skies. There’s something for everyone.

Landmannalaugar in Iceland

The Best Destination For Nature Lovers – Iceland

Yup, Iceland again! Can you tell I love this country? But there’s something magical about Iceland in August.

There’s usually 17 hours of daylight, mild temperatures, and stunning hikes through volcanoes and parks that you’ll remember forever.

NOTE: I know that everyone loves the midnight sun, and I totally get it. In fact, one of my favorite things about visiting Iceland in the summer is that the days are so long, that I can do even more stuff in a single day. Go to a hot spring at 1 am while the sun is still out? Check!

The best part about visiting Iceland in August in my opinion is the festivals. You absolutely have to check out the Merchant’s Bank Holiday festival early in the month. 

It’s full of singing, dancing, and amazing local food. Most locals head out into the countryside, so if you don’t want to attend the festival, Reykjavik will be a ghost town (perfect for sightseeing!).

And, of course, there’s Reykjavik Pride, which is a lot of fun!

Further Reading: Check out the ultimate 7-day Iceland itinerary here. It’s got some of my favorite spots including geysers, parks, and where to stay during your week on the island!

Countries to Avoid in August

The list of countries to avoid in August is quite lengthy, but mostly because of weather conditions in certain regions.

Southern Asia is still experiencing monsoons (except for Kerala or Tamil Nadu in India, and Bali, Indonesia).

The Middle East and parts of North Africa are heating up, with some areas having an average temperature of 109 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius). The US also heats up in August, although not nearly as warm as that.

Hurricane season is peaking in Central America and The Caribbean, which can seriously put a damper on your trip during August.

Cuba might be nice and warm, but the probability of cyclones is also high.


September

September is a great month for traveling. 

Most tropical destinations are experiencing cool weather, and the crowds are dissipating in Europe.

If you’re into beer, exotic desert destinations, and hiking in the Himalayas, this section is for you.

Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna

The Best Destination For Beer Lovers – Central Europe

Forget the Mediterranean. September is the beginning of beer festival season in Central Europe.

Imagine – a massive stein of beer in your hand surrounded by people in lederhosen singing mountain yokelling tunes.

It’s either a dream come true or some sadistic Eli Roth horror movie.

Either way, it’s an unforgettable experience.

You should check out:

  • Germany: Oktoberfest starts to kick off at the end of September, and if you’re early, you might even find some cheaper prices.
  • Austria: Did you know that Vienna has its own Oktoberfest? It starts towards the end of September, and has more or less the same vibes as the one in Munich. The hotels and beers should be much cheaper though!

If you aren’t into beer, Tblisi is a great alternative. It’s not in Central Europe though. It’s a bit further east in Georgia. Georgia also has some amazing and cheap resorts on the Black Sea that are just as nice as the Mediterranean resorts, but way cheaper and less crowded. If you’re into water sports like jet skiing, this is the perfect place.

Esfahan Naqsh-e Jahan Square Sunrise, Iran
Sunrise at Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan, Iran.

The Best Destination For Adventure Lovers – Iran

If you’re bold and adventurous, September is the ideal time to visit Iran in the Middle East.

I visited a few years ago, and saw some of the most amazing historical sites I’ve ever seen. Iran remains pretty much untouched by tourism, so it’s got a unique vibe you rarely find elsewhere in the world (or the Middle East for that matter).

Here you’ll find everything from UNESCO World Heritage sites to lavishly decorated mosques and bazaars.

Iran has a rich history and some stunning landscapes, but it’s the people that make it an amazing place to visit. The hospitality is second to none. I had random strangers asking me to take photos with them while strolling the streets. You’ll feel like a celebrity when you visit!

Further Reading: Iran is close to my heart like few other countries are. My trip there was life-changing, and I don’t say that lightly. Check out my once-in-a-lifetime trip there, and how the locals accepted me like one of their own. It will flip your preconceived notions about the country on its head.

Road Trip through the Himalayas in India
Leh Palace in the Indian Himalayas

The Best Destination For Nature Lovers – India

September is a great month to visit India if you’re into beautiful mountain landscapes, historical cities, and internationally known landmarks.

Whereas Spring is the best month for big cities like Mumbai, September is ideal for locations like:

  • Rajasthan for historical cities
  • Uttar Pradesh for famous landmarks like the Taj Mahal
  • Himachal Pradesh for beautiful temples and hiking in the Himalayas

India is just coming out of the monsoon season at this time, and all of the crowds haven’t arrived yet.

This is definitely the sweet spot for visiting mountain templates and landmarks like the Taj Mahal.

Pro Tip: Looking for an authentic experience away from the hoards of tourists? Sri Lanka is a quick hop over from India and has some incredible nature, friendly locals, and empty beaches ripe for the taking.

Further Reading: Read all about my road trip across the Himalayas from Srinagar to Leh in this article. It made me fall in love with the peaceful parts of India (a country I tend to HATE – though I’ve warmed up to it in later years).

Countries to Avoid in September

Monsoons are continuing in Southeast Asia, while hurricane season is still ongoing in the Caribbean and Central America.


October

October is smack dab in the middle of shoulder season, so this is a great chance to get cheap flights, hotels, and tourist site deals.

This is one of the best months to travel before the winter hits in the Northern Hemisphere. So, pack your bags.

Pouring Beer at a Bar

The Best Destination for Nightlife – Germany And Austria (Yes, Still…)

In case you didn’t read September’s entry, let me cover this quickly…

Oktoberfest is the most famous beer festival in the entire world. If you’re looking for the best nightlife you can possibly find this time of the year, this is the place. It’ll be beer, lederhosen, singing, and dancing for days and days on end.

September is my favorite time to experience Oktoberfest, just because it’s not so crowded yet.

However, Oktoberfest is at its peak (surprise!) in October. The prices will be higher, but the energy is going to be out of control. If you’re into beer and lederhosen, this is a must-see event.

New England Foliage from above

The Best Destination For Nature Lovers – New England, USA 

October is prime time for visiting the Northeast USA. 

New England (the northeast region) is world famous for its awe-inspiring foliage, exciting harvest season, and whale watching. It’s the ideal destination for seeing the leaves turn in the Fall.

There’s nothing like seeing the fiery autumn colors as you’re strolling through a quiet mountain village. Sipping on apple cider and eating pumpkin pie only adds to the experience.

States like Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine have some of the most intense autumn color spectacles of anywhere on Earth.

If I were you, I’d rent a cabin in the mountains and spend my mornings admiring the changing colors from a coffee shop. And I’d spend my days wandering the trails, going from farm to farm and sampling everything they’d grown that season.

Pro Tip: New England is the oldest region in the USA, so be sure to check out some of the amazing living history while you’re there (The Salem Witch Trials exhibit is a must).

Top Destinations

  • Boston: The starting point for every New England adventure. BeanTown is a bit rough around the edges, but the history, sports culture, and whale watching are incredible. Just don’t wear any out of town sports gear or your life will be at risk…I’m serious. Don’t do it.
  • Vermont: It’s basically Canada, so the people will be friendlier. And the landscapes are literally out of a Van Gogh painting in October. It’s the best place to visit for tree watching (is that a thing?).
  • Maine: Acadia National Park is one of my favorite spots in the entire world. Maine is one of the last true gems in the USA. There are barely any people and millions of acres of pure wilderness just waiting to be explored.

Further Reading: New England is a beautiful and historic region of the US that’s perfect for a short vacation. Check out my top 10 places to visit in New England to discover quaint little towns, historic villages, and little island getaways that you might miss.

Love Valley, Cappadocia
Love Valley in Cappadocia, Turkey

The Best Destination For Beach Lovers – Turkey

Turkey is hands down my favorite beach destination in October.

I’m not joking: A week’s vacation in Turkey is about the same price as a week of normal life in Western Europe or the USA. It’s nuts. It’s a great destination for budget travelers looking for all the amenities of the Greek Islands at a discount.

The weather is perfect, the prices are cheaper than other European beach destinations, and it’s not nearly as overrun with tourists as Greece or Spain.

Antalya – my top destination – has hotels for less than $50 a night right near a pristine beach. Plus, you’ll have comfortable weather all day long. Temperatures average about 18 – 25 degrees Celsius (64 – 77 Fahrenheit).

I don’t know about you, but a beach night having some shisha, eating Turkish food, and watching belly dancers breathe fire sounds like a dang good time.

Pro Tip: Turkey is a history lover’s dream. It’s just as historical as Ancient Greece, if not more. In Turkey, you can see Cappadocia, Rhodes (ancient home of the Colossus!), and Gobekli Tepe (some of the oldest ruins on Earth), all in a few days. Mind-blowing stuff. And, of course, you can’t miss Istanbul!

Top Destinations:

  • Antalya: A thriving beach resort town that’s perfect for a cheap beach vacation.
  • Cappadocia: A historical region famous for its “fairy chimneys”, distinctive cone-shaped houses. It’s also well known for ancient cave dwellings carved into the rocks (perfect for taking a tour!).
  • Istanbul: The crossroads of Europe and Asia. Not a beach destination, but if you’re in Turkey, you have to see it.
Madagascar Avenue of Baobabs Sunset

Honorable Mention – Head to Madagascar For Exotic Wildlife

I just want to quickly mention Madagascar here. The climate is perfect in October. It’s the dry season and conditions are perfect for touring around and checking out the island’s wildlife.

Madagascar has some of the most unique and exotic wildlife in the world like flat-tailed geckos, fossas, aye-ayes, and tomato frogs. And some of the landscapes look straight out of science fiction.

The weather is cool and dry, so it’s perfect for the beach. Once you’re done checking out the animals, you can soak up some sun away from the crowds.

But trust me, from experience, while Madagascar is a stunning country to visit, prepare for some rough traveling. The country has yet to develop its travel infrastructure, so the travel hours are long and often on very rough roads. Still, it’s worth it!!

Countries to Avoid in October

Southeast Asia is now experiencing typhoon season, so it’s best to avoid certain parts of Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar. South Pacific countries like Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and the north of Australia are also best avoided due to this month.

Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean are still in the middle of hurricane season, but the cyclonic activity is starting to die down, so if you do want to go here, the end of October is probably okay.


November

November is an in-between month for most locations around the world, which makes it a bit unique.

It’s one of the best months to travel if you’re looking for:

  • Cool and calm weather in tropical locations
  • Less crowded destinations in Europe
  • Lively desert locales with mildly tolerable weather

Here are my top picks for the end of the shoulder season:

Tank in Culebra, Puerto Rico
The famous Flamenco Beach in Culebra, Puerto Rico, with its stranded WWII tank.

The Best Tropical Beach Destination – The Caribbean

Caribbean Islands like Cuba are the absolute best places to go in November. It’s where all the action is at.

Note: Americans can visit Cuba ONLY under certain conditions. There are 12 categories that you must fall into if you’d like to visit. You can check and see if you fit into any of the 12 categories here – good news is that most people do.

Hurricane season is over and the dry season is moving in. You’ll experience nothing but blue skies, sandy beaches, and late-night dancing across the entire sea.

This is the hot spot of all hot spots for canoeing, paddleboarding, jet skiing, and just chilling on a beach away from all your worries.

Top Destinations

  • Cuba: Definitely check out Havana, Trinidad, and Viñales for a step back in time. Cuba is one of the most remote and uncharted locations in the Americas.
  • Barbados: This action packed island has some of the best nightlife in the Western Hemisphere. I recommend this place for great music, dancing, and partying by the sea.
  • St. Lucia: St. Lucia is synonymous with honeymoons. It’s the most romantic island in the entire Caribbean. Check out Coconut Bay for all-inclusive resorts for couples, zip lining, and the world’s only dive-in volcano adventure!
  • Puerto Rico: OK, ok, I’m biased here because I’m from Puerto Rico, but hey, how can you miss visiting the stunning beaches on the island of Culebra, like Flamenco Beach and Zoni Beach, or walking down the charming cobblestone streets of Old San Juan?

The Best Destination For Festivals – Chiang Mai, Thailand And Agra

Yi Peng Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Yi Peng Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Imagine this…

Clear blue skies all day every day, delicious meals for $1, and some of the most beautiful mountain landscapes on Earth – all in the same place.

That’s Chiang Mai, Thailand, in a nutshell. This beautiful Thai city is nestled at the foothills of the mountains and is famous for being one of the best foodie cities in Asia. What’s not to love?!

Unsurprisingly, I picked Chiang Mai as my base to settle for a year while traveling in Southeast Asia, and I’m eager to make it my home base again in the near future.

November is the beginning of the sunny/dry season, where it rarely rains and the entire city comes alive.

This is also the time of Yi Peng/Loi Krathong, one of the holiest festivals in Thai culture. In November, Thai people light and release lotus-shaped lanterns as a symbol of releasing your worries and finding inner peace. Imagine a sea of lanterns lighting up a clear night sky.

It’s something you have to see to believe.

The Taj Mahal

Agra, India

While you’re in the area, now is the best time to visit the Taj Mahal in Agra, India – one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. 

It’s high season, but you don’t really have a choice. All other times are either too hot or too wet to visit.

In November, temperatures are Goldilocks-level perfect. If you’ve always wanted to visit the Taj Mahal, do it NOW.

You can beat the crowds if you take one of the Sunrise Taj Mahal Tours starting at 6 am (KILL ME).

Camping in the Sahara
Camping in the Sahara, Morocco

The Best Destination For Adventure And Camping – Morocco

Morocco is an exciting and exotic destination offering experiences you can’t find in Europe or the Americas. 

When I visited, I camped in the Sahara desert, rode ATVs, strolled around bazaars, and ate amazing North African and Arabic cuisine that I still think about to this day. 

And get this…

It’s DIRT cheap. A 3-day excursion into an endless sea of towering sand dunes costs about $100. That’s like one dinner and a night out in Europe.

By the way, it’s only about 3 hours from London and even less if you fly from Paris, Madrid, or Lisbon. 

Countries to Avoid in November

November is actually a pretty good month to travel, with no countries to completely avoid. Countries in the north are cold, but not yet peak winter, while southern countries are heating up as summer approaches.


December

Planning to travel in December?

There are two things you need to know:

  1. Europe will be overrun with zombie hoards of Christmas travelers
  2. Some of the best and most exciting places on Earth are going to be BARREN

So, while now’s the best time to have a Christmas vacation, I suggest you at least consider checking out other destinations rather than just settling for a Christmas destination.

Here are my top destinations:

Christmas Market in Germany

The Best Destinations For Christmas (Just Because I Had to) – Central Europe

I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to NOT mention Christmas in December. And I don’t feel like getting sued by the U.N.

If you’re looking to drink mull wine, eat roasted chestnuts, and find some one-of-a-kind gifts, Central Europe is the place.

Forget Paris, London, or Rome. Those places are meh on Christmas at best.

Germany, Czech Republic, and Hungary are where the real magic happens. Trust me, I’ve been to all of them.

Top Destinations:

  • Prague, Czech Republic: The most beautiful city in Europe. Hands down. The Christmas Market in Old Town Square is like stepping back in time to the middle ages. You’ll be overrun with open air concerts, cheap gifts, and hot wine! While you’re there, check out Prague Castle, the world’s oldest astronomical clock, and Charles Bridge.
  • Cologne, Germany: One of the largest and most beautiful Christmas markets in the world. Cologne has multiple large holiday markets with nativity scenes, gifts, and amazing street food.
  • Budapest, Hungary: Budapest’s Christmas market has a full fledged ice skating rink. That’s really all I have to say. Plus it’s got a laser projector that goes right on the main Basilica in the square. Sweet!

The Best Tropical Destinations – Belize And Uruguay

Now you’re speaking my language.

Personally, I don’t think we should have to freeze to death just because it’s Christmas time.

While everyone is barely surviving sub-zero temperatures in Christmas markets, you’ll be sharing Instagram stories from a tropical paradise.

Like I said before, these destinations will be mostly EMPTY since everyone will be spending “time with family” back home!

Beach in Belize

Belize (Scuba Diver’s Paradise)

Belize has world-class scuba diving. It’s got the second largest barrier reef in the world behind Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Imagine swimming underwater with frogfish, nurse sharks, and sea turtles, then heading to a beach bar for sunset. That’s a perfect day for me.

I’ve been on 15 dives in Belize, and it gets better every time. The variety of marine life is incredible.

Further Reading: I spent three months in Belize and I’ve been on more scuba diving trips in the country than most bloggers. Check out my top 5 diving spots in Belize to learn the most affordable, fun, and interesting diving spots in the country.

Belize also has amazing Mayan ruins surrounded by undeveloped territory. If you’re into ancient and mysterious ruins, Belize is paradise. It’s my favorite place to see indigenous ruins in Central America (even better than Mexico).

Punta Del Este in Uruguay

Punta Del Este, Uruguay

Punta Del Este is so gorgeous that it’s called “the Monaco of the South”. December is the liveliest time of year to visit this beautiful city.

It’s full of wellness retreats, spas, casinos, and luxury hotels. It’s a bit like Las Vegas, just not seedy, run down, or slimy.

Punta Del Este is one of the safest places on Earth. So, it’s a great family destination, too. You can have a luxury Vegas-style vacation without all of the debauchery you get in Nevada.

Pro Tip: while you’re in Central America, give Costa Rica a visit. It’s a rugged country covered in lush rainforest with some of the best nature trekking in the world. 

The Best Destination For Nightlife – Miami, Florida

Miami is so awesome that it deserves to be its own “country.” I don’t know what the US did to deserve it. I really don’t.

Miami is like being in the Caribbean while still being on US soil.

The rooftop parties in December are insane, partly because all of the snowbirds from up north flock south for the winter.

Buildings in Miami Beach

The club and beach bar scenes are pulsating in December. It’s the best place to be in the entire US this time of year.

And if you’re worried about missing Christmas holiday season, don’t be. There’s still a festive holiday atmosphere. But the temperatures will be balmy and tolerable. 

Pro Tip: Fontainebleau’s New Year’s Eve party is INSANE. They’ve got celebs, DJs, and amazing festivities like fountain shows to help you ring in the New Year in style.

Best Destination if You Want to Go Off-the-beaten Path – Ethiopia

Ethiopia is one of my favorite countries in Africa. It has so many interesting cultures and countless historical sites that it will take you months to even see the highlights.

The good thing about Ethiopia in December (and January) is that the country is going through its cooler, dry season. Still, if you go to the Danakil Depression, the hottest place on earth in terms of year-round average temperatures, you’ll still see how hot Ethiopia can get!

Having said that, this is the perfect time to go to the Danakil Depression to hike up to the crater of the active Erta Ale Volcano. Yes, you can literally see lava coming out of the crater. The best thing is that since this hike can only be done at night to avoid the heat, you’ll get to camp next to the crater.

This is also the perfect time to visit the Omo Valley Tribes to see and learn more about their culture.

Karo Women by the Omo River
The Karo Tribe in the Omo Valley in Ethiopia

Countries to Avoid in December

Even though they are popular among budget travelers doing the typical Southeast Asia route, try to avoid Malaysia and Indonesia as they are in their monsoon season. Papua New Guinea is also the same.


5 Tips For Planning Your Trip

I’ve been traveling full-time since 2010. Over that time, I’ve developed an easily repeatable process that routinely gets me awesome vacations at major discounts.

The keys to planning a successful trip are starting early, comparing rates, and using the right resources.

I’m going to share that all here. Follow this process step-by-step, and you’ll get the vacation of a lifetime:

1. Start Planning Early

Start planning your vacation early by doing the following:

  1. Make sure you can get time off
  2. Nail down exactly when you are going
  3. Listing down your dream locations

Once that’s done, you can move on to actually starting to book things.

2. Search For The Cheapest Flight Options

Here’s a hack I use to get cheap flights:

Go to SkyScanner or Kiwi and use their “anywhere” option…

Skyscanner Everywhere Tool

Just choose the month you plan to travel, and see where the cheapest flights are.

You can choose a month or specific dates. It’s up to you. This will help you find the cheapest flights to your preferred destination. I do this all the time, especially when I’m not sure where I want to go.

3. Search Flights on WayAway Plus

WayAway has been a lifesaver for me. It’s a service that finds cheap flights for you AND gives you cash back on all your flights. It’s usually between 3-10% cashback, which is huge if you travel often.

WayAway Plus starts at around $50 per year. So, only use it if you’re going to travel at least a few times.

It usually pays for itself after 2-3 international flights. And, YES, these are real dollars – not miles or points or any of that garbage.

You can get a discounted WayAway Plus membership via this link.

NOTE: The money is sent to you via PayPal.

Kukulcan Boulevard Hotel Zone in Cancun

4. Book Accommodation The RIGHT Way

This is a huge one here. I normally get 40% off accommodation or more just by searching this way/sending a few messages.

If you’re going to stay in a hotel or hostel, Booking.com has the best rates and customer service. Sometimes, you don’t even need to put a deposit down (nice!).

However, if you want a more authentic local experience, I recommend AirBNB, VRBO, or HostelWorld.

If you’re booking on AirBNB, send messages to your potential hosts saying something along the lines of this:

“Hey, (Name), I really want to stay in your location, but it’s a bit above my budget. I’m shopping around for the best price in your area. Is there any chance you can give me a discount? If so, I will book your room.”

This is a great opportunity to get cheap prices on long-term stays too. Once you get the landlord’s contact when you arrive, you can negotiate a cash price for the rest of the month.

5. Use Cheap Tour Booking Websites

Most tour agents on the ground will price gouge you. That’s as true as death and taxes.

I highly recommend using cheap online options like Viator.

On the other hand, if you want a more hands-off trip and not having to plan much, I highly recommend checking G Adventures and Contiki. They have excellent multi-day tours in almost every country in the world.

Lastly, don’t forget to get your travel insurance too. Accidents do happen (yes, they DO happen and they have happened to me a few times while traveling ). I use and trust HeyMondo as their policy covers you in most of the world. Alternatively, I also often use the SquareMouth travel insurance aggregator for more options.

If you want to learn more about travel hacking to always find the cheapest airfare, I recommend reading this post.

Norbert in Antarctica with Intrepid Travel
In Antarctica in January 2024 when I finally reached my last continent!

F.A.Q

Q: What is the best country to visit for a month?

The best country to visit for a month depends on which month you’re traveling. Here are my top picks for traveling for a month according to different months of the year:

  • January – Northern Europe for the Northern Lights 
  • February – Paris for architecture, serenity, and cheesy romance, or Rio de Janeiro for the world’s largest carnival celebration
  • March – New York City, Chicago, or Boston for St. Patrick’s Day, or Egypt for a pleasant-weather archeological experience
  • April – Tokyo for cherry blossoms
  • May – National parks in the USA
  • June – South America for trekking in perfect weather or Iceland for the midnight sun
  • July – Indonesia for scuba diving
  • August – Edinburgh, Scotland for sightseeing
  • September – New England, USA, for the fall season
  • October – Munich or Vienna for Oktoberfest
  • November – Chiang Mai, Thailand for perfect weather, food, and festivals
  • December – Miami, Florida, for crazy New Year’s parties, or Chile and Argentina for the perfect Patagonian experience

Q: What months are best to travel?

The best months to travel are March, April, and May or September and October. The reason these are the best months to travel is that they are “shoulder season” in many locations. That means cheaper prices, lower airfares, and fewer crowds.

Norbert at the Koh Nang Yuan viewpoint - second visit

Q: How do I plan a month-long vacation?

Here is my process for planning a month-long vacation:

  • Secure time off
  • Decide which month you’re going
  • List down 3 dream locations
  • Begin searching online booking agents to see where the cheapest flights are
  • Use Airbnb to negotiate the lowest prices for your accommodation
  • Start searching the location for touristy things to do
  • Find certified tours on Viator
  • Fly and have fun!

Q: What is the cheapest and best place to travel to?

The cheapest and best places to travel to are mostly in Southeast Asia or Central America. You can visit Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, or Vietnam and have an amazing vacation for half the price that you would pay in Europe.

Q: What is the cheapest month to go on holiday?

The cheapest month to go on holiday is usually in early spring (March) or late autumn (October). However, it depends on the location. It’s best to travel any time between March – May or September and October for the cheapest travel deals. 


The Best Places to Visit Each Month of the Year, A Month by Month Guide
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17 Comments

  1. On the May To September, Paxos is the best destination to spend the time with your family and beloved one. you get the best experience to spend the time and get relax. If heaven was a place on earth, then that place would be Paxos Island. Away from the bustling masses of other, more touristic Greek islands, Paxos is a destination for those seeking harmony and tranquility together with an easygoing day-to-day and stunning seaside sceneries. This small island of the Ionian Sea is full of olive and pine trees, secluded beaches, breathtaking underwater caves and postcard-worthy sceneries.
    Live the experience of the colorful pebbled shores, dramatic white cliffs, verdant groves and crystalline azure waters; thousands of colours, and then, a thousand more as the sun begins to set, transforming everything with its last fiery rays.

    1. Nice point you introduce about the Paxos.
      Yes! It is best destination you can enjoy & relax with your family. Paxos is a small island which has a population of around 2500 with tourism being its primary income; though locals also rely on fishing and olive oil production which was introduced by the Venetians who ruled the islands from the 14th century. There is an interesting story about the creation of the Islands; Poseidon the Greek God delieverd a blow of his powerful Trident to the southern tip of the Corfu, which floated and formed the Paxos Islands. He created this island as a solitary peace and resting haven for him and his lady Amphitrite where he could keep their love nest a secret from his wife.

  2. Nice wrap-up of where to go depending on season. Anyway, sometimes you can be lucky to go to places at a time which is not the peak time – and still surprisingly get an awesome experience!
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Incredibly useful travel post! We were supposed to go to Greece in May but may have to rethink the islands after reading this post. Thank you!

  4. This list is really helpful in deciding where to go. Whenever I am planning to go on holiday, deciding a destination is a big chore

  5. Great article! Thanks for putting it together. Do you happen to have this data in an excel table you could email me? I love maps, but I’m also a spreadsheet fan and would love to play with the data in excel. Thanks!

  6. I see that you wrote to avoid North Africa in august but what about June in Moroccan desert. Would it be too hot with a child ? Not used to dry climate so hard to compare the temperature. Used to Quebec, Canada humid summers.

    Thanks !

    1. I’ve been to Morocco in June/July, and I can say that it gets pretty hot. If you’re going with a child, I would recommend starting your days early and maybe taking a “siesta break” around noon to 2 pm to avoid being out during the hottest part of the day.

  7. I really enjoyed your article. I noticed that it has been recently updated, changing from introducing many suitable destinations each month to focusing on 2-3 key destinations. This is very valuable for readers. However, I would also love the opportunity to see your previous version, which recommended multiple destinations for each month. Is there an archive of the version before the changes? Thank you.

    1. Thanks, Dao! I appreciate your comment. I’m actually reworking the article to mix both formats (current and previous) to be more helpful to readers looking for multiple destination recommendations at a glance and more in-depth options too. I should have it up in the coming two weeks.