  Chapter

 

Travel Abroad: Planning your trip

 

Planning & Period

  • When you are planning a trip it is important to know what is the best time to visit a specific country. It can be pretty disappointing to find out that it is actually winter while you planned to spend a few weeks on a sunny tropical beach. When it is winter north of the equator, it is summer on the other side. The summer is not automatically the best time to visit certain areas. In short, when to go can be quite a complicated matter. When you are going to your dream destination make sure to check the weather and other conditions during the time of your visit!

General remarks & advice

  • Often the rainy season in a tropical country is not as harmful as it seems (Indonesia, Thailand). Most of the time the weather is fine unless you are very unlucky. Look for a destination where the weather differs per region, so that you can always escape from the rain.
  • Watch out for places that are known for extreme weather. Natural phenomenons such as hurricanes and cyclones are usually not a lot of fun.
  • If you are going scuba diving, make sure that during the time your visit the sea is not to rough, so that the view will be clear.
  • In some areas diseases, such as malaria, are being spread during specific seasons
  • Going to Africa to see some wildlife? Make sure you to plan your trip when the wildlife parks are open. You do not want to find out that the park is closed when you already are in Tanzania.
  • Some places can be a lot of fun to visit during special events, such as carnival in Brasil, a mid-summer night party in Scandinavia etc). Sometimes it is better to avoid certain events. Try, for instance, to find a restaurant that is open during the Ramadan in a Muslim country.
  • Unfortunately our climate is changing, so you cannot completely rely on the information that is available. It happens more and more that locals tell you that it is the first time in thirty years that it is raining this early in the season or that they don’t understand where all the clouds are coming from.
  • People have different opinions about the best time to visit a specific region. Some people like to go to a place when it is 40 degrees Celsius, while other people already think 20 degrees Celsius is too hot.
  • Be aware of the difference between minimum and maximum temperatures. The minimum temperature in San Francisco in the summer is 12 degrees and the average temperature is 18 degrees. This means that in the evening you will need a sweater.
  • Be aware of height. Ecuador is a tropical country, but the capital Quito lies 3000 meters above sea level. This means that it can be very warm during the day, but very chilly in the evening.
  • The temperature of the sea water can be much colder than the temperature of the air. The weather in Tunisia might be OK in February or March, but swimming can be very unpleasant at that time of the year.

How much time you need to visit a certain regions or countries

  • For most travelers the answer to this question depends on their school, university, job, family, friends etc. The only question that really matters for them is how much time you need to visit a certain regions or countries. For people who are traveling for a few months or longer, there are some extra factors to take into consideration:
    • When does the travel tiredness strike? (the moment you are fed up with all those amazing temples)
    • What can you do to avoid travel tiredness?
    • When becomes traveling a "race"?
    • How long does it take to travel over land though a certain continent?

A week to two weeks

  • In recent years it has become much easier to take a shorter/in between break/holiday to a far away destination: you can go by car to Italy to go skiing (depending on where you are coming from). Cheap tickets are also available to countries in the Mediterranean sea and even to some Caribbean Islands. The downside of these cheap last minutes is that people run the risk of arriving at a destination where the water is freezing cold, temperatures are low or heavy rainfall spoils your stay.
  • Depending on the flight time the following destinations are suitable for a short holiday:
  • Between November and April/May: Sri Lanka, Maldives, Gambia/Senegal, Zanzibar, Goa, Caribbean Islands, Florida, Bali, Thailand and Mexico.
  • The temperature is not as stable but the Canary Islands, Jordan or the Red Sea (scuba diving) also great places for a one or two week holiday.

Three to four weeks

  • The best time to explore and get familiar with a country or a large part of a country is somewhere between three to four weeks. Even most “world” travelers do not stay much longer in a particular area. In three or four weeks you can easily travel around, visit a few cities and still have some time to relax and take it easy. Try to avoid areas where it will take up to 3 days to travel from one highlight to another.
  • The best destinations for three to four weeks on holiday are: Ecuador, Peru/Bolivia, Guatemala/Honduras, Southern Africa, China, Tibet, North India, Nepal, South India, Thailand, Malaysia, parts of Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, the US West Coast.

From a few months to a year

  • How long should your world trip take? Do you need a year or is a month or four months sufficient? Of course this depends on your travel plan and your budget. In practice not many people manage to do a proper around-the-world trip in a year. Due to limited resources or time most world travelers will have to skip large parts of the world. If you would like to make a trip from Australia to India through South East Asia to India and China it is possible to do this in three to five months. When you do this you spend just as long in one country as it takes other world travelers to travel several continents.
  • Skipping expensive countries, such as Australia, New Zealand and North America, is a good way to save money, so that you can stay away for a longer time. The more time you have for your trip the easier it will be to change your plans completely or stay at one place for a longer period without ruining your plans.
  • When you are traveling for less than three months you probably don’t need an expensive travel insurance, tickets will be cheaper, it is easier and quicker to save the money for your trip and it will be much easier to fit into your study schedule or work.

Travel Times – overview

Asia

  • North Thailand: best: November to February, least favorable seasons are from April to September. During the latter period southeast Thailand is the best place to visit as well as the South.
  • South Thailand: best time to visit is March to May
  • Laos: best time to visit is from November to February
  • Myanmar(Burma): best time to visit is from November to February
  • Indonesia: relatively calm weather, no extreme seasons
  • Malaysia: only from November to January the weather is not as good as the rest of the year.
  • Himalaya: Eastern India: best from April to November
  • Nepal and Western India: best time to visit October to December and February to April.
  • Tibet: best time to visit May to October. From November to March it can be (too) cold and there can be a lot of snow
  • Mongolia: best time to visit from May to October
  • China: best time to visit March / April and September / October

Latin America

  • The Andes (Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru): from June to September is the best time to visit, but this area is accessible during the whole year.
  • Bolivia: December to April in the Andes is the best. In the Amazon you will then be bothered by the mud, insects and other inconveniences.
  • Peru: it is better to avoid the months December to April when you want to visit Machu Picchu/Cuzco. The Amazon: May-July are the “best” times for a visit. From December to April it will rain even more than is usually does. During the rainy season in the Peruvian Amazon it rains two times a day on average, but in between the showers the weather will be fine.
  • Iguazu Falls: December-April is the best time for a visit.
  • Central America: best time to travel is from December to April/May, after these months the rainy season begins. Countries with nicer weather during these months are: Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala.

Africa

  • Southern Africa: April-September are the best for visiting. For Cape Town and the surrounding areas November-March are the best times to visit.
  • Eastern Africa: June to October is the best time for visiting, followed by December to February.
  • West Africa: November - December are the best time to visit.
  • The best times to visit the wild parks in Southern Africa are in the European (late) summer (during the dry season the animals will come out to the drinking spots where you can see them) but there are other good periods for a visit.

Middle-East

  • During the summer it can get very hot, but the other seasons the weather is usually fine.
  • Be aware that in winter the northern part can become ice cold and in the south it can get surprisingly cool.

Europe

  • Northern Europe: countries such as the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Germany are quite cold and humid to visit during the period November-March. These months are, however, ideal for skiing activities (In Switzerland, Austria etc.). April-September is a very pleasant time for traveling throughout Europe, as temperatures do not tend to be very high.
  • Southern Europe, including countries like Spain, Italy, Greece, France and Portugal, has a pleasant climate with sunny days throughout the year, although the summer months July and August can be unpleasantly warm on some days.

North America

  • Canada and Alaska can be very cold and dark during the period November-March. The period outside these months would be more suitable to visit these countries, but since it concerns such a wide area, there are a lot of regional differences.
  • The United States also varies per region, but in general has cold winters, hot summers and mild fall and spring seasons. The south can be very humid with sporadic rainfall and has two subtropical seasons, contrary to most states.
  • Mexico has a wet and a dry season, with warm and humid weather throughout the year. Mexico also has a hurricane season lasting from June through November.

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