Where to Go: Timing

Timing plays a big part in deciding where to go.  Some factors to consider include weather, holidays & festivals, and the value of the dollar.


What time of year are you traveling and what will the weather be like in your destination? Summer in the northern hemisphere means winter most points south of the equator. And some destinations don’t experience our traditional four seasons but rather two – wet and dry. But whatever time of year you travel, there are benefits to the different types of weather you may encounter.

For example, the months of September – November in the southern part of Thailand is monsoon season, so you won’t be able to enjoy the beaches. However, this time of year also sees some unique local festivals, so you will be able to experience part of the culture most travelers don’t.

Traveling Down Under? December – January are the summer months in Australia and New Zealand, making for a nice escape from winter in the northern hemisphere. However, this is also the time of year when students are on break so most Aussies and Kiwis will vacation during this time, creating competition for lodging and activities. If you travel to Oz during their winter months (June – August) you bypass the crowds as well as the heat and humidity up north. Plus, you can visit parts of the country most travelers don’t get to (like Darwin and Broome) and miss out on the box jellyfish and monsoon rains.

To get a general idea of the best times of year to visit a country, visit WhereWhenWhy

Holidays & Festivals:

As mentioned before, participating in local holidays and festivals offers a unique cultural experience. But it can also offer some challenges. During countrywide holidays, such as the Thai New Year (Songkran Festival), most locals travel, making it difficult to book transportation or accommodation. This is also the case during the Hindu celebration of Diwali in India. But you shouldn’t be detered from visiting during these times – in fact, holidays can be a great highlight of your trip. It’s just important to practice your patience during these events and plan in advance.

It’s also important to understand the significance of the holiday or festival and try to act as respectful as possible. During Ramadan in Islamic countries, non-Muslims and visitors are not expected to observe the fast, however it is respectful to be discrete when consuming food or water during the day. And Sherry learned quickly in Zanzibar that the only people on the streets from 6:30pm to 8pm during Ramadan are tourist and thieves. Learning about the customs of the countries you plan to travel to is a great way to understand their holidays as well as their cultures.

And if you happen to “stumble upon” a holiday, don’t be afraid to ask a local more about it and find out how you can participate. When I was volunteering in Peru, I learned that the small town of Paucartambo hosts thousands of guests during the festival for the Virgen del Carmen. In addition, most of the revelers camp out at Tres Cruces (where the Andes meets the Amazon), in order to catch the rare eclipse, in which it appears as if three suns are rising. By asking more about this, we found out that our driver, Benjamin, was willing to take us to the festival AND to the campsite. We were just a few of the gringos in the midst of hundreds of locals participating in these amazing events.

Start your research by visiting Earth Calendar and Wikipedia

Value of the Dollar:

This is a major player in destination decision making, especially when timing is involved. How long you plan to travel and how far you can stretch your budget go hand in hand. If you want to rail throughout Europe and sail the Mediterranean, expect the Euro to take a big bite out of your budget and shorten your time on the road. But if you choose to take the slow train through Vietnam and snorkel the beaches of SE Asia, you can live off of just dollars a day for months on end.

During your country research, be sure to check on the prices of lodging, various types of travel (planes, trains, buses, boats), food and the various activities you plan to participate in. This will be an important factor in determining your budget. Then check the latest exchange rates at: www.xe.com

Check out the following articles and resources about figuring out where to go:

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