It was $45 a head to attend the lecture, but because we love you guys and genuinely want to help people make travel a bigger part of their lives, we’re creating this post with our picks for the best destinations by month, and our top tips and tips to make those ambitious travels a reality.
THE WORLD’S BEST DESTINATIONS BY MONTH
Before we give our picks for best destinations by month, we can’t ignore how many travel industry nods were given to Korea for the Olympics, the Czech Republic for celebrating three upcoming anniversaries, and the Caribbean who needs all the support it can get after a horrible hurricane year! We’ve chosen the best of the “trend lists,” plus the under-the-radar places we’re most passionate about.
Why now: January is the height of Antarctic summer with an average temp of 35F and good odds for sunshine. Every month of expedition season is a wildlife special, though January is among its most endearing with 100s of thousands of baby penguins waddling their first steps. Alternate Months: November-March. Early in the season allows for snow sports and late February brings the whales.
HoneyTrek Tip: Don’t pay full price. Sign up for the (Quark, Aurora & OneOcean) expedition newsletters to track flash sales or head south to find last-minute deals in person in Ushuaia, Argentina. HoneyTrek Trips also gets some pretty sweet deals from our partners, so if Antarctica is on your bucket-list, shoot us an email and we will let you know when the crazy deals hit and you can take it from there.
Our Antarctica Experience: www.HoneyTrek.com/Antarctica
February: TASMAN DISTRICT, NEW ZEALAND
Why Now: February is the tail end of summer in New Zealand which means the outdoor concerts and festivals are still in full swing and the waters are warm enough to maximize enjoyment on the coast. Alternate Months: It’s pleasant year-round; winter temps are only in the 50s with calm seas, abundant marine life, and even fewer people.
HoneyTrek Tip: Download the Project Janszoon app for Abel Tasman National Park’s maps, history, tides, flora, and fauna. It’s like having a visitor center in your pocket.
Our Abel Tasman Experience: www.HoneyTrek.com/Tasman
March: NIAGARA FALLS, USA/CANADA
Alternate Months: If temperatures heat up anytime in January or February, beeline for the border.
HoneyTrek Tip: No one gets a great view of the falls without touristy trappings. Stay up the gorge in charming historic towns like Lewiston, NY or Canada’s Niagara on the Lake.
Our Winter Niagara Falls experience: www.HoneyTrek.com/Niagara
April: YASUNI, ECUADOR
Why Now: Yasuní needs our help. In recent years drilling for crude oil has come dangerously close to the national park. The more visitors they get, the more reasons Ecuador has to protect this precious environment. Alternate Months: Being along the equator, the weather doesn’t fluctuate much so come anytime, just bring a raincoat.
HoneyTrek Tip: Wild Yasuní doesn’t have much infrastructure for independent exploration. The accessible regions and activities are largely determined by your outfitter. Pick one that maximizes your time and budget.
Our Yasuní experience: www.HoneyTrek.com/Yasuni
May: SOUTHWEST DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Why Now: This is the country’s next big thing (trust us, we know people at the tourism board). Go while there isn’t a single hotel chain or big box anything. Alternate Months: February, March, April, and November.
HoneyTrek Tip: Before you road-trip the Southwest, spend a couple days in Santo Domingo: The oldest city in the Americas. Time your flight to Santo Domingo so you catch Monasterio de San Francisco’s Sunday concert series. A full stage is set up at the foot of the atmospheric 16th-century ruins, and all the locals come out to shake a tail feather.
Our Southwest DR Experience: Read about it in our feature for Travelocity.
June: HUNAN, CHINA
Why Now: May & June is the sweet spot for weather between the two regions. While Wulingyuan made Lonely Planet’s 2018 Best in Travel List, Fenghuang will be our little secret. Alternate months: March, April, September, and October.
HoneyTrek Tip: You need a visa for China and getting one remotely can be complicated. Fly into Hong Kong, and process your visa in person at The Commissioner’s Office of China’s Foreign Ministry while you enjoy the city for a couple days. From HK, you can hop a ferry to Shenzen, where you get cheaper flights or take the train into Hunan.
Our Wullingyuan & Fenghuang Experience: www.HoneyTrek.com/Wulingyuan & www.HoneyTrek.com/Fenghuang
July: FLORES, INDONESIA
Why Now: It’s been said that Flores is what Bali was in the 70s. It’s an authentic corner of the world that’s quickly gaining popularity; go sooner than later. Alternate months: April-July make for lush mountains and calm seas with high visibility, though most of the island is lovely through September.
HoneyTrek Tip: Take buses between Labuan Bajo and Bajawa and Moni (a truly cultural experience, often involving goats on the roof), then rent a motorbike to explore the surrounding villages and gorgeous countryside.
Our Flores Experience: www.HoneyTrek.com/Flores
August: SAMBURU, KENYA
Why Now: The winter month of August brings thinner vegetation and a higher concentration of animals at the watering holes for more abundant sightings. It’s also when the wildebeest migration happens down south. Alternate Timing: June-October also brings the benefits of winter safari.
HoneyTrek Tip: Enjoy more incredible game drives in nearby Meru national park and hike around Mount Kenya, the country’s highest peak. Continue south for the Maasai Mara’s wildebeest migration to complete the ultimate safari trip.
Our Samburu Experience: www.HoneyTrek.com/Samburu
September: GEORGIA (the country)
Why Now: September will offer lovely weather with minimal crowds. Alternate months: Summer is the best time to enjoy mountainous Georgia’s great outdoors and even July and August won’t have that many tourists.
HoneyTrek Tip: Do an Airbnb with a local family and take every opportunity to experience Georgian hospitality. As they say in Georgia, “A guest is a gift from god.”
Georgia Guide: You’ll just have to see what we said in Ultimate Journeys for Two.
October: GUANAJUATO, MEXICO
Why Now: For three weeks every October, Latin America’s biggest celebration of the arts, The Cervantino Festival takes over Guanajuato. Music, dance, and theater groups from around the world perform diverse works across the city’s 49 theaters, parks, street corners, and alleyways.
Our Guanajuato Experience: www.HoneyTrek.com/favorite-fall-destinations/
November: ARCTIC CIRCLE, NORWAY
Why Now: October through early November is also the only time catch the fall foliage with your fjords and northern lights. Alternate months: March gets similar weather and daylight, while die-hard aurora chasers will appreciate January’s dark skies.
HoneyTrek Tip: Hurtigruten is having its 125th anniversary and offering discounts on many of their cruises to celebrate. With over 30 ports and daily departures, they make it easy to customize your route based on your timing and interests. If can take a longer vacation, begin in the charming medieval city of Bergen and make it to the Russian border of Kirkenes. Call us up if you want to chat about planning this journey (877) 727-TRAVEL.
Our Norwegian Fjords Experience: www.HoneyTrek.com/NorwegianFjords
Why Now: No matter how many miles you chip off the Jordan Trail, Jordan’s improved infrastructure is making it easier to find adventure. Jordan often gets lumped in with the Middle East’s bad press but it’s one of the most stable and inviting countries in the region. Alternate Months: If you like your desert a bit warmer, try March or April.
HoneyTrek Tip: Get the Jordan Pass for your visa and discounts on major cultural attractions rolled into one. Use community-based tour operator A Piece of Jordan for your exploration of the Petra surrounds and unforgettable local immersion.
Our Jordan Experience: www.HoneyTrek.com/Jordan
Ways to Make Travel More Accessible
Repeat after us, “I hereby solemnly swear to take all my vacation days this year.” Pledging to uphold such an easy and fabulous promise may seem a little ridiculous…but, as you know, the stats say otherwise. To beat the excuses to the punch, here are few ways to make travel a little easier this year.
- Start a Travel Fund. Direct deposit 5% of your paycheck each month into a separate bank account, made exclusively for adventures.
- Get Annual Travel Insurance. When you have automatic coverage on every trip you take this year, bumps in the road won’t slow you down and you’ll have the peace of mind to fly by the seat of your pants. For as little as $125, Allianz annual plan is a great choice (note: We have been using the Allianz annual plan for years and recently became ambassadors for them).
- Start Collecting Frequent Flyer Miles. Having a treasure trove of miles will make pulling the trigger on your next trip that much easier. Interested in learning how we’ve taken 122 free flights on this trip? Here’s how.
- Read Ultimate Journeys for Two, all the above destinations are featured in greater detail in the book, plus 63 more of our favorites and an entire chapter on making travel more affordable, accessible, and an integral part of your life.
- Reach out to HoneTrek Trips. We want to help mobilize your next journey with our off-the-track travel agency. Email Trips@HoneyTrek.com; we look forward to hearing from you!
- Check out our Smithsonian Resources. To see our full presentation, including tons more travel tips, check out our full resource page from our Smithsonian lecture.
Just remember, when work and life get in the way, travel is an investment in yourself. Don’t skimp!