I’m often asked when the best time to travel is. Of course it varies from destination to destination, but here are a couple of tips to getting the best balance between enjoying a destination, getting value for money and avoiding the worst of the queues.
Avoid major holidays – especially Christmas, New Year, Easter and Thanksgiving.
- Not only do you pay peak pricing for everything (flights, accommodation, restaurants etc), you also have full flights and trains, crowds, public holiday surcharges. In certain places (such as Tokyo) you also may find many tourist attractions and stores closed for several days – so not only are you paying more to be there, you may not be able to enjoy all that the destination has to offer!
- If you must travel over a holiday period, resorts are often your best place to be. If you’re on the ski slopes or poolside you will have a great time regardless of it being a public holiday or not!
- Tourists flock to ski resorts and alpine destinations through the wintery months of December to March, but did you know that most of these places are open in the summer time as well? Snow is replaced with wild flowers, hiking trails, glacier lakes and activities such as horseriding, mountain biking or kayaking. Cable cars often still operate so you can get magical views of the mountains and the grassy valleys from above.
- Another plus is that hotel rates are often cheaper during this off-season, so you can stay in great accommodation for half the winter price.
- The cooler mountain air can offer a respite from summer heat and humidity closer to sea level.
- Summer (June/July/August for Northern Hemisphere and December/January for Southern Hemisphere) is the peak time to travel.
- If you can travel April/May or September/October then not only will you avoid the worst of the crowds, the heat and the peak season pricing, but you will find that most places still have all facilities operating, good weather and the bonus of perhaps some springtime blooms or some autumn colours.
- There are certain travel must-dos, like seeing the Scandinavian Northern Lights, the cherry blossoms in Kyoto or New England’s autumn foliage. Often the window for experiencing these things is very narrow and so bookings fill up very fast. However, you can have many of these amazing experiences elsewhere without the crazy crowds.
- The Northern Lights – these glow across much of the northern hemisphere, and while Finnish Lapland, Sweden and Iceland are renowned for them, you can get some amazing light shows elsewhere, such as the wild of the Yukon in Canada.
- Cherry Blossoms – Kyoto’s temples are iconic, but with the blooms having such as short life span you can broaden your chances of seeing these dusty pink flowers in bloom if you head further south or further north. Cherry blossom season actually stretches from January (in Okinawa) through to May (in Hokkaido). You can even see stunning blossom displays in China and in Washington DC!
- Autumn foliage – while New England is considered “the” spot to see the blazing colours of autumn, venture further north to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island in eastern Canada for an amazing autumn display.