Tag Archives: Brook Wilkinson

orange life preserver on hook at lake

How to Buy Travel Insurance: What It Covers, When You Need It

Travel insurance can be confusing—which is why we’ve received countless questions about it from readers. So we’ve created this primer that lays out the basics of travel insurance, including when you need it—and when you don’t.

What is travel insurance anyway?

Essentially, travel insurance serves two purposes, both financial. The first is to protect the investment you’ve already made—the cost of your trip—in the event that you need to cancel. The second is to cover future potential costs because of unforeseen events—for example, the cost of medical evacuation, should you get injured during your trip.

What does travel insurance cover?

Travel insurance policies cover some or all of the following (“comprehensive” policies cover most or all of these situations):

  • Trip cancellation or interruption (if the reason for doing so is one allowed by that policy)
  • Medical expenses, and sometimes evacuation (transportation to an appropriate medical facility)
  • Expenses related to a trip delay and lost, stolen, damaged, or delayed baggage
  • A lump-sum payment if you’re injured or killed while traveling
  • Emergency assistance
  • Financial default of the travel supplier

A policy kicks in only if your situation fits within its specific conditions (those are the pages of fine print at the back of every policy). You can’t, for instance, get your money back if you decide to cancel because your cousin dies; that’s because most policies cover cancellation due to the death of only certain close family members.

Here are three examples of how travel insurance can help. These are scenarios that a traveler might run into—and ways in which the right travel insurance policy could protect the traveler in each scenario. Remember that every policy’s benefits are different:

Beth is headed to the Caribbean during hurricane season, since she knows that prices are lower at that time of year and that the chance of a storm hitting any particular island is low. But a week before she leaves, Hurricane Peter wreaks havoc at her beachfront resort.
Since Beth purchased an insurance policy with trip-cancellation coverage before the storm was named and her hotel is now uninhabitable, she can cancel the trip and get all of her money back.

Halfway through a hiking trip in the Alps, Joe slips and falls, breaking his ankle.
Joe’s travel insurance policy has a medical expense limit of $10,000, so it covers some—but not all—of his medical bills. Because he can’t continue with his trip, his trip-interruption benefit reimburses him for the unused portion of his prepaid expenses.

While Amy is walking from the train station to her hotel, a thief steals her luggage.
Amy’s insurance covers the value of the items in her luggage, up to her benefit limit of $750. Too bad she didn’t leave that diamond necklace at home, though; her policy will only reimburse up to $500 total for jewelry and electronics.

Do I really need travel insurance?

It depends on whether you’re making large nonrefundable advance payments, and whether you’re concerned about potential medical bills.

Are you reserving rooms at hotels that let you cancel up to 24 hours before check-in, and renting a car that you don’t have to pay for until you show up at the counter? In that case, don’t bother with a comprehensive policy that covers cancellation, since you’re not out-of-pocket for many expenses. (Even so, you may still want medical insurance, which is very affordable; you can get quotes for this coverage by entering $0 as your trip cost when researching policies online—see “Which policy should I buy?” below.)

Or are you prepaying for most of the pricey elements of your trip—hotels, private guides, transportation, a cruise—which often means that your deposit and subsequent payments are nonrefundable? In that case, you probably want travel insurance. When you choose a policy, consider the specific reasons you may end up filing a claim. For instance, most policies will cover Covid-related medical bills, but not all of them will cover the costs of isolating at your destination because you’re sick but not hospitalized.

Don’t I already have insurance?

You might. Some—but not all—medical plans, homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policies, and credit cards offer benefits to travelers. But Medicare, for instance, doesn’t cover members when they are overseas (though some Medigap plans do), and most health plans won’t cover evacuation (meaning, transportation to an adequate medical facility), which can be expensive if you’re somewhere remote. Check with your insurers to see what’s included.

Some premium credit cards include a level of protection. This coverage probably isn’t itself worth the card’s annual fee—but if you already have such a card, you should know what benefits it offers so that you don’t pay for redundant coverage. For example, Chase Sapphire Reserve (one of Wendy’s favorite credit cards for travelers) has some good insurance benefits, but with set limits (so, for instance, you can get back only up to $10,000 per traveler and $20,000 per trip if you cancel a trip you paid for with the card—even if your African safari cost your family of four $15,000 per person).

Some travel firms and tour operators also include certain insurance coverage in all of their trips. Don’t waste your money buying coverage that’s already built into the cost of your trip. However, don’t assume that this coverage is comprehensive; depending on your circumstances, you might want to buy an additional policy.

How much does travel insurance cost?

Premiums for a comprehensive policy range from about four to 15 percent of your total trip cost. So if you and your spouse are spending $20,000 total on a week in France, expect to pay $400 to $1,500 per person for travel insurance.

Each premium is calculated based on the length and cost of the trip, where you’re going, and how old you are. For travelers above age 50, policies get significantly more expensive, while children can often be added to a parent’s plan for free: Travelex’s Travel Select Plan allows you to add any children under 18 to a parent’s or grandparent’s plan at no additional cost, while most Travel Guard plans include one child under 18 for every paying adult.

At what point during my trip planning should I buy travel insurance?

Purchase your policy as soon as you put down a deposit toward your trip. That’s because certain desirable benefits (e.g., coverage for cancellation because of pre-existing medical conditions, coverage for financial default of the travel supplier, a cancel-for-any-reason upgrade) may kick in only if you buy your policy within 14 days or so of your initial trip payment. This “initial trip payment” is usually defined as the first payment that will go toward your trip cost and could be included in an insurance claim, not the separate planning fee that some travel agents charge.

As a potential cost-savings measure, consider starting out by insuring not the total cost of your trip, but only the amount you have paid so far. Each time you make an additional trip payment, update your insurance with the new trip cost and pay the additional premium. This could save you money if you have to cancel before you’ve fully paid for the trip. Remember to increase your insurance after each trip payment, or you will not be properly insured.

Your premium will be lower if you cover only your nonrefundable costs; however, not covering the full amount of your payment(s) could invalidate coverage for pre-existing conditions. Requirements vary from one insurance provider to the next, so when you calculate the amount of coverage you need, read the policy carefully and also speak with the insurer to confirm you are understanding it correctly.

What is third-party travel insurance?

Some travel companies—cruise lines, tour operators, and the like—sell their own insurance or “protection” policies, whereas third-party insurance is sold by someone other than the travel company that is operating your trip. Third-party policies are usually a better choice: They pay you back in cash rather than trip credits, they can protect you in case the travel company goes out of business, and you can choose the plan with the coverage that best fits your specific circumstances.

My travel planner recommends that I purchase a policy through a specific insurer; should I follow their advice?

Some travel planners, tour companies, and outfitters have relationships with a particular insurance provider. They might push you to buy a certain type of insurance because they’ll earn a commission; on the other hand, their relationship with that insurer could benefit you if you have to file a claim. Wendy has seen many cases where Trusted Travel Experts on The WOW List, thanks to their relationship with a particular insurer, have been able to act as advocates for their travelers and get their claims paid.

Should I cover the cost of my flights too?

That depends. If you have to cancel your trip, you can usually put the cost of any unused airline tickets toward a future flight, sometimes minus a change fee. Calculate how much your premium will increase if you insure your flights; if the difference is less than the airline’s change fee, it’s worth insuring the flights. (You might also want to insure flights on any local carrier that you aren’t likely to fly with again—in which case a credit toward future travel would be worthless.)

What does it mean if a travel medical insurance plan is primary or secondary?

“Primary” means that the plan pays any bills first, without having to go through your home health insurance provider; “secondary” means the plan will only cover whatever you owe after you’ve filed a claim with your health insurance provider. You’ll typically get a bit more coverage per dollar with a secondary plan—but you’ll have to deal with more paperwork if you file a claim.

I have a medical condition. Will expenses related to it be covered?

Pre-existing conditions are generally excluded from coverage—but some plans will waive that exclusion if you purchase them soon after making the first payment on your trip (generally within 7 to 21 days of that initial deposit). You also usually have to insure the entire nonrefundable cost of your trip, including flights. Without coverage for pre-existing conditions, you’re on the hook for any expenses related to a condition that wasn’t medically stable at the time you booked.

How does travel insurance handle Covid?

Pretty much like any other illness. Most comprehensive policies will cover you if you test positive right before your trip and have to cancel, or if you come down with Covid during your trip and incur medical expenses. If you are sick enough to be hospitalized, a Medjet membership will get you home. If your symptoms are mild, some insurance policies will cover self-isolation costs under your “Trip Delay” benefit. There are often both daily and total limits to this benefit, so you may not be reimbursed for all of your additional hotel, meal, and airfare costs.

What if I’m hurt doing an adventure activity (say, bungee jumping)?

Most policies won’t cover injuries you receive while taking part in certain “hazardous activities”—a category that can include everything from skydiving and rock climbing to scuba diving and heli-skiing. Some plans will allow you to pay a higher premium to cover these activities. (Dive Accident Insurance from the Divers Alert Network, for instance, covers most bills related to scuba-diving accidents.)

Will insurance pay for me to come home if I get sick or injured on the road?

Not usually. Most policies will pay for transportation to what they consider to be the nearest adequate medical facility (such transport is known as medical evacuation)—but that could be thousands of miles from your loved ones and the doctors you trust. If you want to know that you can get home, you’ll need to purchase additional coverage from a company such as Medjet, which arranges and pays for transportation from a hospital in your destination to one back home. For more details, read What Medical Evacuation Coverage Do You Need?

Can I call off my trip for any reason and be reimbursed?

No. Each policy defines the allowable reasons for which you can cancel and get your money back. To cancel your trip because of a terrorist attack, for instance, the attack typically has to happen in a city listed on your itinerary—not just anywhere in the country you’re visiting.

You can purchase additional “Cancel For Any Reason” (CFAR) coverage, but it’s pricey, and even then, you’ll generally only be reimbursed 50% to 75% of your trip cost. As with pre-existing condition benefits, you usually have to purchase CFAR coverage soon after your initial trip deposit; you also have to insure the total cost of the trip, and you must cancel more than 48 hours prior to your departure. Read more about CFAR coverage in our article “Cancel For Any Reason” Travel Insurance: What It Is and How It Works.

What if the State Department issues a Level 4 “Do Not Travel” advisory for my destination, and I want to cancel my trip?

Standard travel-insurance policies rarely cover cancellation due to war, border closures, lockdowns, or government travel warnings/advisories. (But also note that the 21 countries currently with a Level 4 advisory are not common travel destinations right now, but rather places like Russia and Afghanistan.) Some insurance providers offer “Cancel For Any Reason” (CFAR) coverage; for the pros and cons of that, read “Cancel For Any Reason” Travel Insurance: What It Is and How It Works. If security is a concern, consider a MedjetHorizon membership, which includes access to a Crisis Response Center if at any point during a trip you feel that your safety may be threatened—because of a political incident, terror attack, or other crisis.

How do I protect myself against the travel company I’m working with going out of business?

If you paid by credit card—which we always recommend—your first step should be to file a billing dispute with the credit-card company. The Fair Credit Billing Act stipulates that you are protected against charges for goods or services you do not receive. If you can prove that’s the case, those charges will be credited back to your account.

Some third-party travel insurance policies also cover trip cancellation due to financial default—meaning that an airline, tour operator, cruise line, or other supplier ceases operations, leaving you without a trip. (Travel insurance usually will not cover you if the company declares bankruptcy or if you booked via a travel agency or other intermediary that goes out of business.)  Click here to read more about insurance coverage for financial default. As with pre-existing medical conditions, financial default clauses often require that you purchase the insurance soon after making your first payment, and the coverage typically doesn’t start until 10 to 14 days after you’ve purchased the policy.

Here are a couple of examples: Let’s say you’ve booked a Mediterranean cruise and flights to Venice, where you’ll board the ship. The day after paying your initial deposit, you insured the entire purchase with a carrier that protects against financial default. Two days before you’re due to leave, your airline goes belly-up, and all other flights to Venice from your hometown are booked, so you’re unable to make it to the ship. Your insurance provider reimburses you for the costs of your flights and the cruise you missed.

In another scenario, let’s say you’ve booked a trip to see the Pyramids in Egypt. A month after putting down a deposit on the trip, it occurs to you to insure your considerable investment. A few weeks before your departure, your Egypt tour operator ceases operations, and it turns out that none of your in-country arrangements have been confirmed or paid for. Even though your insurance policy covers financial default, it won’t pay out in this case because you didn’t purchase the policy within 15 days of your initial trip payment.

Should I pay for the car-rental upgrade to my comprehensive insurance policy?

Pay attention to when that benefit kicks in; coverage through your rental agency may be better tuned to the likeliest risks in your destination. For instance, when I rented a car in Iceland, my Travelex policy upgrade would cover me only for damage due to collision, vandalism, windstorm, fire, hail, or flood. Hertz’s options, on the other hand, included coverage for damage from gravel or ash—both far more common than vandals in Iceland.

I travel frequently. Is an annual travel-insurance plan a better choice than individual policies for each trip?

Many annual plans do not cover trip cancellation and thus are missing the coverage you want when you have significant nonrefundable expenses. Also keep in mind that annual plans limit you to the same coverage for all of your trips. For example, say you take a few shorter trips a year that cost $5,000, and one large trip that costs $25,000. An annual plan with a trip-cancellation benefit limit of $15,000 means that you’ll be overinsured for your shorter trips, and underinsured for your larger one.

Which policy should I buy?

It would be so easy if one size fit all—but it doesn’t. To know which policy is right for you, think about what keeps you up at night. Are you most concerned about testing positive for Covid a day before your trip? Or about having to fly home early because a loved one there falls ill? Or deciding to cancel your trip because of a terrorist attack at your destination—or even one in an entirely different country?

Several websites allow you to input your details and compare multiple policies at once, narrowing in on which one is right for you: Check out TravelInsurance.com, InsureMyTrip, SquareMouth.com, and, if you just want medical coverage and don’t need cancellation protection, Medical.TravelInsurance.com. Before you purchase any policy, though, it’s important to get on the phone with that insurer and ask how their policies would work, if the hypothetical reasons why you’re considering travel insurance (e.g., you end up hospitalized with Covid in your destination) were to actually occur.

The insurance that we’ve received the best traveler feedback about is Travelex’s Travel Select policy. It operates as primary coverage, allows a wide range of reasons to cancel, and, based on the feedback we’ve heard, is relatively likely to reimburse you quickly.  This policy must be purchased at least 14 days before your trip starts (this is waived for last-minute trips if you are still within 15 days of your first trip payment). Travelex also offers an optional “Cancel for Any Reason” upgrade that must be bought within two weeks after making your first trip payment.

Transparency disclosure:  Medjet is a sponsor of WendyPerrin.com. That’s because Wendy has had a membership herself since her kids were little and believes in it. Travelex Insurance Services pays WendyPerrin.com a referral fee when a policy is purchased through this link. Wendy chooses Travelex because it has generous policies (see above) and good customer service. (Travelex Insurance Services is not related in any way to the defunct currency-exchange business Travelex.) When you use the links in this article for your insurance/assistance purchases, it allows us to continue the rigorous and honest work we do on behalf of consumers, as well as to continue our Get a Personalized Trip Recommendation service. Thank you for your support.

Be a smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. Read real travelers’ reviews, then use the black CONTACT buttons on Wendy’s WOW List to reach out to the right local fixer for your trip.

Travelers Emma Jacobs and her husband dining on the Great Wall of China during their WOW Moment.

Get More Elbow Room When You Travel

I won the lottery earlier this month. No, not Mega Millions, but something almost as good: I flew from California to Europe in economy class and had three seats all to myself. And I wasn’t the only one—about 20 of us in the back of the plane had three or four seats each.

Here at WendyPerrin.com, we love getting more elbow room when we travel, especially when it starts with the first flight of a trip.

I asked a flight attendant why the plane was so blissfully empty. He explained that I was flying a seasonal route (San Francisco to Zurich, on United) soon after the season had begun, and such routes often take time to build up a full passenger load. I immediately regretted not booking the same route for my trip home: On my return flight from Munich a week later, I could count the plane’s total number of empty seats on just one hand.

If you want to take advantage of this tip yourself, you can find seasonal flights from your home airport in Nonstop Flights to Make Your Travels Easier.

Another reason why the coach section of my flight was so empty? San Francisco and Zurich are popular start and end points for business travelers. The airline may have been willing to operate my flight with a mostly empty economy cabin because they made enough revenue from business travelers sitting up front. That’s another tip for trying to get an empty seat (or two) next to you in coach: Fly heavy business-travel routes. Think flights from business hubs like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., to business hubs like Brussels, Geneva, London, Milan, Mumbai, Singapore, and Zurich. (Those hubs need not be your final destination; they are where you can connect to your final destination.)

Executive Editor Brook Wilkinson at an empty airport

WendyPerrin.com editor Brook Wilkinson shares tips for getting more personal space when you fly.

You may not score an empty row every time (I certainly don’t), but here are a few more strategies that I employ to maximize my space in economy:

  • Fly on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, when planes are less crowded. Fly in low season too, of course.
  • If you think your flight won’t fill up, choose a seat toward the back of the plane. If there are two of you, take the window and aisle in the same row. The middle seats in the back are the last ones to fill up, giving you the greatest chance of ending up with an empty seat beside you. I love having a window—partly for the view, partly so that I can rest my head against the plane’s fuselage when I sleep—but if you don’t need a window and you’re flying a widebody, choose an aisle seat in the center section in a row where the other aisle seat in that center section is already occupied. Chances are the middle seats between you will be occupied only if the entire plane is full.
  • Download your airline’s app and check your flight’s seat map so that you can change your seat if your row fills up. In the last week before a flight, I check the seat map daily. (Note that not all airlines allow you this visibility or flexibility: My ticket from Munich to San Francisco on Lufthansa required that I pay for a seat assignment, and then I could only change my seat by making a phone call.)
  • At the airline gate, ask the agent if there are any empty seats on the plane, and if so, politely request to sit beside one. (It may help to tell the agent that you’ve got a lot of work to do on the flight and you could use the elbow room.)

Consider carving out more elbow room for yourself after your flight has landed too: Work with a local fixer who will sprinkle your trip with secluded meals in special locations, rooftop restaurants with plenty of breathing room, private boat rides, and other hard-to-book experiences that provide an oasis from the masses. That’s how our travelers got the WOW trips you can read reviews of below.

START A WOW TRIP

China: “Having a gourmet lunch prepared on the Great Wall was a very special moment…”

Travelers Emma Jacobs and her husband dining on the Great Wall of China during their WOW Moment.

Emma Jacobs and Patrick Woerner dining on the Great Wall of China.

“Our trip to China was excellent. We had an amazing dinner prepared and cooked in a private space by a chef and his team, curated by Mei’s office, as our WOW Moment in Beijing. Having a gourmet lunch prepared on the Great Wall was a very special moment. One of a kind!! Shanghai took us by surprise, what a great city with exceptional food. We had a wonderful foodie tour there too.” —Emma Jacobs

Read more reviews of China trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below. 

START A TRIP TO CHINA

Italy: “A day on a private boat in Portofino was magical in every way…”

Elaine and Gregg Patterson on the rooftop of the Marrone Winery in La Morra, Piedmont, Italy after a lunch in their restaurant and before the private tour of the winery.

Elaine and Gregg Patterson on the rooftop of the Marrone Winery in La Morra, Piedmont, where they had lunch and a private tour.

“We had been to different parts of Italy about a dozen times before we started working with Maria and Brian and quickly learned that they can deliver itineraries and experiences that we could never arrange on our own. (And I say that even though I love doing travel research and have planned dozens of trips for us over 40 years.) For this trip, we gave Maria our wish list of Turin, Piedmont wine region, Genoa, Portofino and Lake Maggiore.

Her recommended itinerary checked every box. Wonderful hotels with spacious rooms and beautiful views, private vineyard/winery visits (most with amazing lunches), and the best tour guides who were great travel companions and also helped us plan our free days. Maria’s recommendation for a day on a private boat in Portofino was magical in every way, the restaurants she suggested were all local, delicious, and down to earth, and all the transportation arrangements (excellent drivers, comfortable vehicles) were totally seamless.

Our WOW Moment—a private lesson making cocktails at Martini & Rossi headquarters near Turin—was completely unexpected and completely fun! We learned so much and have so many unforgettable memories from this trip, thanks to Maria and Brian and their network of exceptional people on the ground.” —Elaine Patterson

Read more reviews of Italy trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below. 

START A TRIP TO ITALY

France: “A 2-hour private tour after close at Sainte-Chapelle at the Golden Hour…. YES PLEASE!!!!”

The stained glass windows of Sainte Chapelle in Paris.

Saint Chapelle in Paris, France. Photo: Shutterstock

“What an amazing trip with a lifetime of memories! A 2-hour private tour after close at Sainte-Chapelle at the Golden Hour…. YES PLEASE!!!!

I have been to Paris many times. I have always done my own thing and enjoyed it. This trip we were taking my 82-year-old mother, who mentioned she had always wished she had gotten to Paris. Needless to say, I wanted to make it extra special for her and do a few things I hadn’t previously done. I knew that meant reaching out to someone on Wendy’s WOW List and, let me tell you, after giving Jennifer some background, she came back with a sample itinerary that was just jaw-dropping. She offered things I didn’t even know were possible!!!

On our first evening in the city, we took a 2-hour tour of the city in a vintage French car. It was such a cool experience, it felt like we were in a movie! We got to zip around the city with our informative guide who also expertly and strategically parked the car and took amazing pictures of us all over the city. It was the perfect way to kick off our stay in Paris.

We had a fantastic walking tour of the Marais with a focus on Jewish history. It was informative, moving and tasteful, as it incorporated a lot of food tastings at specialty shops as well. We had a gourmet picnic set up for us in the Luxembourg Gardens; it looked like a postcard! It was a gorgeous day and perfect for some down time and lounging around while enjoying the gardens and former palace grounds.

Jennifer and her team planned two half-day trips for us to get out of the city for a bit. I didn’t want to do Versailles again and she suggested Vaux-le-Vicomte, the inspiration for Versailles! The story behind Vaux-le-Vicomte, the owners and history were so interesting. Truly a beautiful chateau with a tragic history and—no crowds!!! The second half-day tour we spent in Giverny. I had always wanted to go but never made it. Well, I finally made it and it did not disappoint. One of my favorite places.

To cap off our trip, the crème de la crème, we were given a 2-hour private tour of Sainte-Chapelle after close!!!! Two hours all to ourselves in Sainte-Chapelle at the Golden Hour! It was absolutely magical. There are literally no words to describe how special this was. Perfect way to end our trip.” —Christine Stephenson

Read more reviews of France trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below. 

START A TRIP TO FRANCE

Malta: “Loved being able to visit a private palazzo in Mdina, which the owner had not yet opened to the public…”

The inside of the Palazzo Falson, in Mdina, Malta.

Palazzo Falson, in Mdina, Malta. Photo: Shutterstock

Damon made arrangements for us to stay in a quieter part of Valletta, and all of our activities were structured to avoid the crowds arriving and departing on two huge cruise ships. Our hotel was in a 16th-century building, with a lovely view of the harbor, friendly staff, and excellent breakfasts. We could walk or take a little dghajsa boat during our free time to visit other parts of the city. We got to contemplate the two Caravaggios at St. John’s Co-Cathedral a bit ahead of the crowd.

Wendy arranged for us to have a unique WOW Moment, touring the Villa Guardamangia with the curator—and it was a WOW! It is not currently open to the public due to renovation; it is where Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip lived during the early years of their marriage, while Philip was in the Navy. We all loved the TV series The Crown and, of course, were thrilled to be able to visit!

We also loved being able to visit a private palazzo in Mdina, which the owner had not yet opened to the public. We learned about his family history, including a political murder that took place on his balcony, knick-knacks and treasures found in the attic, and what it takes to renovate a home dating back 400 years!

We also loved a private dinner at the Markus Divinus Winery during which the owner told us what is involved in growing grapes and making wine on this relatively small island. My inner nerd was pleased to visit the Hagar Qim, a prehistoric temple built to worship the fertility goddess and, according to UNESCO, the oldest continuously standing structure in the world.” —Stephanie Wright

Read more reviews of Malta trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below. 

START A TRIP TO MALTA

Vietnam and Cambodia: “Our guide was able to time our sunrise visit to Angkor Wat so well that we thought we had the temple complex to ourselves…”

Travelers Mike and Lindsay Lanaux during sunrise at Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

Mike and Lindsay Lanaux—and no one else—at Angkor Wat at sunrise.

“After listening to the way that we like to travel, Sandy and Ethan planned a trip that catered to our interests in history, architecture, culture and food. We started in Hanoi where we stayed at the Metropole. We really appreciated the history and architecture of the Metropole, as well as the bunker tour of the hotel. In Hue, we were simply awed by the Imperial Palace and the Tombs of the Emperors. Lunch at the home of a local family was one of the highlights of the trip. It was fascinating to see the kitchen where they cooked and to talk to the host about his family history. It truly was one of the best meals of the trip.

In Hoi An, we loved our hotel situated on the river. Watching the boat traffic at night was magical. We also enjoyed our eco tour where we got to ride bikes through the rice paddies and try farming and fishing Vietnamese style. In Saigon, we loved the rooftop bar at our hotel and the history associated with it. The powerboat ride down the Mekong River to the Cu Chi tunnels was fascinating. But the highlight had to be the nighttime Vespa tour exploring the back alleys of Saigon and eating some great street food.

Ending the trip in Siem Reap was a dream come true. The Jaya House River Park Hotel is an excellent mix of luxury and intimacy. Another rooftop bar and spa treatments every day. Our guide was able to time our sunrise visit to Angkor Wat so well that we thought we had the temple complex to ourselves. But the most outstanding experience was being blessed by a 19-year-old monk at his temple and being able to talk with him afterwards. It was truly an exceptional trip that we will always remember.” —Mike and Lindsay Lanaux

Read more reviews of Vietnam and Cambodia trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below. 

START A TRIP TO VIETNAM AND CAMBODIA

Germany and Czech Republic: “Having a guide in the Palace and Monastery in Prague was invaluable, and Claudia arranged for us to have lunch within the walls…”

Travelers Ian and Suzy Crabb on the Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic.

Ian and Suzy Crabb on the Charles Bridge in Prague.

“We were in Berlin, Potsdam, Dresden and Prague. It was fantastic and Claudia and Juliet were amazing. They added SO much value to our trip. Claudia personally knows the guides and they were all wonderful. All had personal stories about the history that really made it come alive and touch us. Claudia and Juliet helped us get concert tickets and dinner reservations. I had done this myself for a trip to Spain and having someone else do it was such a relief.

We had so many amazing experiences. We visited two brothers we had hosted who then hosted our children, and we had not seen them for 20 years. Took a train to Braunshweig which Claudia arranged for us. We had a really interesting dinner at CODA in Berlin where every course looks and tastes like a dessert but it’s not. Having a guide in the Palace and Monastery in Prague was invaluable, and Claudia arranged for us to have lunch within the walls with a magnificent view of the city. Touring the Meissen factory was also not on our agenda—a Claudia suggestion—and that day trip (boat down the Elbe to Meissen) was great. Everything went incredibly smoothly and we were SO pleased with our first WOW experience.” —Ian and Suzy Crabb

Read more reviews of Germany and Czech Republic trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below. 

START A TRIP TO GERMANY OR THE CZECH REPUBLIC

Norway: “We essentially had this fjord to ourselves while we rowed and fished…”

Beautiful Nature Norway natural landscape aerial photography. lovatnet lake.

Lovatnet Lake, Norway. Photo: Shutterstock

“What a fantastic trip! Jan did an excellent job planning an amazing self-drive itinerary in Norway. Norway is breathtakingly and relentlessly beautiful. Driving above, around, and on (via car ferry) the fjords is the perfect way to see it. One stunning sight after another comes into view. Waterfalls are everywhere, mountain views, glaciers, fjords, fields in the mountains all overwhelmed with us their beauty. We had so many unique and incredible experiences on this trip but will list only a few:

RIB boat adventure: This three-hour private RIB boat trip from Gudvangen on the Nærøyfjord, Aurlandsfjord, and the Sognefjord eventually docked in Solvorn at the Hotel Walaker, our home for the next two nights. Along this exhilarating fast boat ride we saw stunning beauty, cascading waterfalls and other sights that are too beautiful to adequately describe in words. You might ask what happened to our car while we were zipping along the fjords? No problem—Jan arranged for someone to drive our car the two-and-a-half hours to the hotel for us while we had all the fun!

A day on the fjord: Perhaps the most unique and beautiful experience of the trip was a full day with Sverre and his dog Rondor on an antique rowboat on the fjord just outside the Hotel Union Øye where we stayed. We essentially had this fjord to ourselves while we rowed and fished. We caught two small haddock and Sverre rowed us to shore where he cleaned, deboned and cooked the fish over a fire he built in minutes. His love of nature and his ability to share the beauty of Norway with us was truly special.” —Jonathan and Suzanne Scharfstein

Read more reviews of Norway trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below. 

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Here’s Why Your Family May Want to “Pool” Your Airline Miles

More and more airlines are allowing passengers to “pool” their miles in a shared account. What does this mean? It’s a quicker path to award tickets, particularly for families. If two parents and two kids each have 15,000 miles in separate accounts, those miles aren’t particularly useful. But a combined pool of 60,000 miles can probably cover at least one person’s flights on the family’s next trip.

Here’s how it helped me snag two free seats: My husband and trumpet-playing son are headed to a trumpet conference. By pooling the mileage they had collectively earned on past United flights, we were able to accumulate enough miles to cover this trip. Airlines that don’t allow mileage pooling extract hefty fees when you don’t have quite enough for an award ticket: You must pay either to “gift” miles to someone else or to buy the extra miles you need.

In this case, my husband and son each had enough miles for one ticket, but purchasing their flights separately would have required identifying my son as an unaccompanied minor—even though his dad would be on the same flights under a separate ticket—and it risked having their reservations rebooked separately if anything went wrong. So pooling their miles provided additional benefits to make their travel smoother.

United is the latest airline to adopt mileage pooling, but a bunch of other airlines already have this system in place, from JetBlue and Hawaiian to British Airways and Emirates. The rules of who can pool mileage and how to do so vary by airline, but I can tell you that United’s process takes several days—you have to wait 72 hours after you join a pool to contribute or redeem miles, and there’s an additional 24-hour waiting period between when you transfer miles into a pool and when you can use them to book a flight. By the time I jumped through all those hoops, the miles required for the flights I wanted had gone up, so I had to add more miles and wait an extra day. But it was still preferable to shelling out more than $600 for the flights; next time I’ll make sure our pool has more miles than what’s needed for the flights I have my eye on, in case the required redemption amount goes up in the interim.

So now that it’s easier for your family to redeem your collective frequent-flier miles, where do you want to go? If you know when you can travel, check out our favorite destinations by month. You’ll also find inspiration in our travelers’ reviews of their best trips, organized by traveler type, trip theme, destination, and more. If you’d like our advice on where to go, click the black button below.

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Brook in Machu Picchu, Peru with not a lot of people around.

We’re Just Back: Brook’s Tips for Peru, including Machu Picchu, Cusco, and Lima

The goal:
My main goal was to get the best experience of Machu Picchu. It’s a mythic site in most travelers’ imaginations, built centuries ago by exacting craftsmen in the unlikeliest of locations: set high atop a peak in the cloud forest, as the Andes descend toward the Amazon. I had visited 15 years earlier—and that experience surpassed even my exalted expectations of the legendary Incan redoubt—but this time I wanted to see how a new entry system, with prescribed paths through the ruins, affects travelers’ experience of this magical place.

The challenge:
Most of all, I wanted to avoid potential crowds. In the peak months of May, June, and July, up to 5,600 people can enter Machu Picchu per day. So I went in low season, when no more than 4,200 people can visit (and often far fewer do). There are now signposts and ropes that guide you along one of four routes based on your entry ticket; route #1 provides the longest and most complete experience of the site. The good news is that—in low season at least—I was able to walk freely along my route, stopping whenever I wanted to take photos or ask my local guide a question.

Low-profile ropes and signage guide visitors around the ruins of Machu Picchu.

Low-profile ropes and signage guide visitors around the ruins.

The highlight:
It’s awe-inspiring to wander through the ruins and imagine how the Incas managed to quarry, shape, and stack so much rock to build a city in such a vertiginous spot; their exquisite craftsmanship is evident in the carefully aligned stones, each laid on top of the others with no mortar.

Machu Picchu on a cloudy day with mountains in the background.

A quiet January day at Machu Picchu.

Smartest route:
There are two ways to get to Machu Picchu: on foot via the Inca Trail, or by train. (Technically, the train takes you to Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of the mountain on which the ancient citadel sits, and from there you take a bus up a switch-backing road that dead-ends just outside the ruins.) My favorite approach to Machu Picchu captures the best of both worlds: Start on the train—with a seat on the left side, which gives you a view of the Urubamba River—then get off a few miles short of Aguas Calientes and hike the last portion of the Inca Trail. That way you arrive on foot via the Sun Gate, as the Incas once did, with the ruins spread out before you.

Smartest timing:
Afternoons are usually the quietest time of day to visit Machu Picchu, since day-trippers need to leave by early afternoon to catch their train back to Cusco or the Sacred Valley. The busiest hours are from 10am to 1pm. Permits to hike Huayna Picchu—the iconic peak in the background of every Machu Picchu photo you’ve ever seen, which makes for an exhilarating climb—are only available between 7am and 11am.

Machu Picchu on a cloudy day with mountains in the background.

The vertiginous Huayna Picchu towers over the ruins.

Best surprise:
The splendid weather I experienced even in January’s “rainy season.” During my eight days in Peru, it rained overnight several times, but on only three occasions were there showers during the day—and each time those were brief. The nighttime precipitation, along with the buildup of clouds during the day, made for spectacular vistas in my photos, and the farmers’ fields were a striking patchwork of purple, yellow, and white flowers. January is also a beautiful time to be in Lima: Instead of the fog that the city is infamous for, think summertime warmth with an ocean breeze to cut the humidity.

Brook biking along a seaside path in Lima, Peru.

Brook spent a sunny afternoon in Lima biking along a seaside path.

Worst surprise:
The Sacred Valley is far more built-up than on my last visit; land that was once most valuable when cultivated is now covered by suburban sprawl. A new international airport is under construction in Chinchero, above the valley. Based on what I saw of the progress so far (a graded dirt rectangle) I don’t expect the airport to open in 2025 as publicized—but when it finally does, I do expect this beautiful corner of the world to get even busier. Get there soon if you can.

Peru's Sacred Valley surrounded by mountains.

Parts of the Sacred Valley are already even more built up than this.

Coolest example of living history:
I spent an afternoon exploring Cusco’s historic center with Teo Allain Chambi, whose grandfather Martín Chambi was a renowned indigenous photographer of the early 20th century. Charmingly modest and yet so proud of his grandfather’s legacy, Teo carried with him a scrapbook of Martín’s street-scene photographs from the 1920s, guiding us to the same spots where his grandfather had composed those shots a century ago. What was most impressive was how little had changed: The buildings have been carefully preserved, many streets are still rough cobblestone, and graceful wooden balconies overlook flower-strewn plazas to this day.

Teo Allain Chambi at Plaza de Armas in Cusco showing photos of from the Plaza.
Teo Allain Chambi in Cusco's Plaza de Armas.
The Coricancha temple in Cusco from the outside on a cloudy day.
Spanish conquistadors made a habit of usurping sacred Incan sites; here, the Convent of Santo Domingo sits atop a wall of the Incas' Coricancha temple in Cusco.
Brook with raised hands in front of the Inca wall.
Brook offers a bit of scale beside the enormous stones in an Inca wall in Cusco.

 

Best hidden hiking trail:
On my last day in Peru, I wanted to stretch my legs before my overnight flight home. So I met up with a private guide who showed me a seldom-used hiking trail outside Cusco that took us past potato and fava-bean fields, through stands of hardy polylepis trees that somehow thrive as high as 16,000 feet above sea level, to the archaeological site of Inkilltambo. Here were sturdy terraces built many centuries ago, and a shrine carved out of rock and reserved for Inca elites. Apart from a nearby farmer working his crops with hand tools, we had the place to ourselves. It was a Sunday, and on the shorter, gentler path we took home, we greeted several cusqueño families heading out for a picnic.

A field full of pink potato flowers.
A field of blooming potato plants near Cusco.
Inkilltambo inn Cusco in the mountains of Peru.
The archaeological site of Inkilltambo, near Cusco.
Inkilltambo inn Cusco in the mountains of Peru.
Incan walls were built around natural limestone outcroppings at Inkilltambo.

 

Best museum you’ve never heard of:
There’s much more to Peru’s rich history than the Incas, and the Larco Museum in Lima is a worthy spot for delving deeper into the country’s past. Spend an afternoon admiring vessels, jewelry, and textiles from the Moche, Nazca, Wari, and other pre-Columbian societies, then segue to the bougainvillea-draped patio for dinner at the museum’s excellent restaurant.

People dininng at the Larco museum restaurant in Peru

Dine under a canopy of greenery and stars at the Larco Museum in Lima.

Local flavors to try:
Peru has earned enormous respect lately for its cuisine, but you don’t have to wait months for a reservation at Lima’s Central (considered by some to be the world’s best restaurant) to appreciate the country’s flavors. I tried delicious fruits like aguaymanto, cherimoya, and lucuma at a market, watched chefs bury potatoes and fava beans and ears of corn and guinea pigs for a traditional pachamanca lunch, and tasted local dishes like causa, ceviche, and tamales at Cumpa, a “creole tavern” with a hipster vibe in Lima that is only open for lunch, and where office workers and laborers in t-shirts compete for table space.

A variety of fruits at the Surquillo Market in Lima, Peru.
Did you know that the cacao fruit—the starting point for chocolate—looks like this?
A vendor dressing in colorful clothes at the Lima market in Peru selling variety of vegetables.
A vendor sells packets of vegetables for soup at a local market in Lima.
A woman shopping at the Surquillo market, in Lima.
Shopping at the Surquillo market in Lima.
The ingredients spread out on mats before they're placed underground for the cooking process.
Burying food between hot stones for a pachamanca lunch.
The start of the cooking process with all the food below the stalks.
The chef blesses our pachamanca lunch.
Brook’s lunch in Peru with a buffet full of dishes cooked underground.
The resulting, delicious buffet.
Over the top image of Tamale Cumpa on a black plate.
A tamale at Cumpa in Lima.
Over the top image of cauza cumpa on a blue plate.
Cauza at Cumpa in Lima.
Preparing pisco sours behind the bar at Lima's Miraflores Park hotel in Peru.
Pisco sours are practically the national drink of Peru. Here's Brook learning how to make one from the bartender at Lima's Miraflores Park hotel.

 

What to look for after dark:
I was fascinated to learn that the Incas saw images in the negative space of the night sky. Yes, they connected the dots between stars to draw constellations—but they also found creatures (a snake, a llama) hidden in the dark spots of the Milky Way. It’s a reminder of how we are all so similar, yet at the same time can see things so differently.

Language lesson:
Quechua, the language shared by many of Peru’s indigenous groups and still spoken by some today, has no word for “friend.” Instead, one of my private guides explained, Quechuans simply address each other as brother or sister—everyone is considered family. This small detail went a long way toward explaining the warm welcome that I felt throughout my time in Peru.

START YOUR OWN TRIP TO PERU

 

Transparency disclosure: Some experiences described here were provided to Brook for free, or at reduced rates, by local hotels and suppliers. In keeping with our standard practice, there was no promise of editorial coverage in exchange: Complimentary or discounted travel never influences our reportage. All of these experiences are accessible to every traveler who uses Wendy’s WOW questionnaire. Thanks to Wendy’s WOW system, you’ll get marked as a VIP traveler.

 

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Where to Go in November: The Best Places to Travel

While November can be a dreary time of year in the U.S., the weather in many other parts of the world is positively delightful. It’s also a smart time to travel—between the summer and holiday high seasons—given the current pent-up travel demand to many of these places during their peak seasons. If any of these destinations are on your must-travel-to list within the next year, you’d be wise to plan for November.

To understand what makes a trip WOW, read these recent reviews from our travelers. And don’t miss the rest of our “Where to Go” series on the best destinations for every month of the year.

Northern Italy

view of Canelli, a town in the Piedmont region of Italy with greernery, old buildings and blue skies

November is truffle season in Piedmont.

In November head to Piedmont for truffle season (the White Truffle Fair in Alba runs the entire month). Try truffle hunting, taste the local Barolo wines, watch artisanal cheese makers, cycle among the vineyards (electric bikes are available!), hike the rolling hills beneath the crisp blue skies…or do it all with your family in a villa for Thanksgiving. This is also harvest time for olives and wine. Learn to cook al fresco in an olive grove, on a goat-cheese farm, or in a vineyard. November is when our editor Billie Cohen took her dream Italian cooking vacation.
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Provence, France

the hilltop village of Gordes, Provence, France

Provence and its pretty villages, like Gordes, are incredibly popular so try to visit in shoulder season. Photo: Pixabay

The light in Provence in winter is why so many famous artists moved there, and the sunshine makes al fresco lunches possible well into November. Provencal markets bustle in the fall, and truffle hunting starts in November. Hike amid the glorious autumn landscapes and hilltop villages of the Luberon, and cycle through the wine country around Gigondas and Vacqueyras, where there are few cars and great eateries.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Provence. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Andalusia, Spain

Skyline in the Old Quarter of Seville, Spain

Skyline in the Old Quarter of Seville, Spain. Photo: Shutterstock

One highlight of this magical part of Spain is the culture—an aspect that can be very hard to experience during the summer high season, when the numbers of tourists and residents are imbalanced. In November, by contrast, most of the visitors are gone, making it much easier to interact with locals (and to enjoy some breathing room in the region’s UNESCO World Heritage sites). The weather is still quite pleasant, with temperatures near 70 degrees during the day.
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Portugal

Beautiful nature view on Azores with small villages, tows, green nature fields. Amazing Azores. View of typical Azores village in Sao Miguel island, Azores, Portugal.

Sao Miguel island, Azores, Portugal. Photo: Shutterstock

Temperatures remain in the 60s well into November, when it’s still warm enough for dinner outdoors at the many restaurants that now have significant sidewalk seating; heat lamps aren’t needed till late in the month. Private river boats—which are much better for sightseeing than your typical river cruises—sail the Douro through the end of the month too. And the weather is even more mild on the subtropical islands of Madeira—known for outstanding hiking opportunities—and the Azores, where you can also hike, bike, and off-road around the postcard-perfect lagoons.
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Greece: Crete, Corfu, or Rhodes

Corfu is one of a few Greek islands that stays open and lively through the winter months.

Many Greek islands shut down in late October or early November, but Crete, Corfu, and Rhodes operate year-round, offering traditional cultural and culinary experiences and festivities in the winter months. November is a great time for sheep farms, olive orchards, and the wine harvest.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Greece. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Sicily

Aquamarine blue waters of sea near Taormina resorts and Etna volcano mount. Giardini-Naxos bay, Ionian sea coast, Taormina, Sicily, Italy.

Hike Sicily’s Mt. Etna in the fall. Photo: Shutterstock

If your goal is to combine culture and outdoor beauty, fall is this island’s best season. Autumn brings the olive, almond, and wine harvests, and sunny, mild weather. Outdoor activities include exploring Sicily’s Greek and Roman ruins, hiking Mt. Etna, and cycling though nature reserves and wine country.
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St. Barts

Le Guanahani, St. Barts

Le Guanahani, St. Barts. Photo: Le Guanahani

Come November, many resorts, boutiques, and restaurants that closed during the height of hurricane season have reopened, and everything feels fresh and new. The Saint Barth Gourmet Festival also takes place this month, attracting star chefs from France and elsewhere. Plus, hotel and villa rates don’t jump up until mid-December.
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Morocco

Earlier this year Wendy and her family traveled through the #2 country on our list: Morocco. Here they are at the Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou.

Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou, Morocco.

The weather is perfect at this time of year: sunny days and crisp, clear evenings that make for great star-gazing in the desert. It’s also ideal for hiking in the Atlas Mountains, as it’s starting to cool down and the peaks are often photogenically snowcapped. Plus, it’s harvest time: You can see saffron being picked, and olives turned to oil, right in front of your eyes.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Morocco. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Patagonia: Argentina and Chile

Torres del Paine National Park view of mountains and water

Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile. Photo: Luis Felipa, Southwind Adventures

Most of Argentina and Chile are great at this time of year (think Buenos Aires, the Atacama Desert, even Easter Island), but Patagonia is an especially smart move in November because the lodges have a quieter, more relaxed ambiance and there is less traffic on the roads than during the busiest weeks of December and January. November is also the best time to spot Patagonia’s elusive wildlife, such as nandu, guanaco, puma, huemul, and condor, as all of the animals are more active during their breeding time. The region has a reputation for changeable windy weather, but November feels like spring, with snows melting off the high peaks and flowers beginning to bloom. Rates are sometimes also a bit lower this early in the season.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Patagonia, and elsewhere in Chile and Argentina. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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The Brazilian Amazon

Aerial view of Anavilhanas National Park Islands, Rio Negro, Brazilian Amazon

Aerial view of Anavilhanas National Park Islands, Rio Negro, Brazilian Amazon. Photo: Shutterstock

River levels are lowest in November, so all of the beaches are out in their full splendor. (People are often shocked by the beauty of the white-sand beaches that form here, making a trip to Brazil’s region of the Amazon unique from the experiences one can have in Ecuador or Peru’s swaths of the same river system.) An ideal trip extends over five days, so it’s easy to fit into a Thanksgiving break. And the area around the Negro River, which is acidic, is not good for mosquito reproduction, so there is little chance of malaria or zika.
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Belize

aerial shot of Belize ocean with sailboat

Explore Belize on the water or in the jungle. Photo: Belize Sailing Vacations

Before Thanksgiving, hotel rates are at their lowest. The days are hot, but the humidity is dropping, and the evenings are cool and breezy. November 19 is Garifuna Settlement Day and is best spent in either Dangriga or Hopkins, where the Garifuna people celebrate—with drumming, dancing, and parades—the arrival of their Afro-indigenous ancestors more than 200 years ago.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Belize. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Mexico

Candles lighten up for Día de Muertos in Michoacan.

Día de Muertos in Michoacan. Credit: Journey Mexico

Day of the Dead (celebrated on November 1 and 2), is a significant cultural holiday deeply ingrained in tradition, and a time when Mexican families and communities unite to pay tribute to and commemorate their departed loved ones. Celebrations vary across the country, ranging from grand public festivities to more intimate private gatherings. Our WOW Listers can arrange culturally sensitive experiences in Mexico City, Chiapas, Oaxaca, and the Yucatan Peninsula.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Mexico. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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London (for Thanksgiving break)

christmas tree by London Tower Bridge

London’s Tower Bridge at Christmas. Photo: London Perfect

November is a great month for museum lovers, as many of the blockbuster exhibitions open in the fall; there’s also the London Jazz Festival, where world-class stars and hot emerging artists share the bill. And the Christmas spirit is already in the air starting in mid-November, with holiday lights on all the shopping streets, a plethora of Christmas markets, high tea at gorgeous hotels, and holiday cheer everywhere. If you can’t wait until then, Guy Fawkes Night is celebrated with bonfires and fireworks on November 5.
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The Galapagos Islands

underwater photo of a sea lion in the Galapagos islands

Galapagos sea lions.

The Galapagos is a magnet for families with kids during summer and other school vacations; if you’re looking for a quieter time, think November (except Thanksgiving week). Blue whales, humpback whales, and whale sharks—the largest fish in the sea, growing up to 40 feet in length and weighing as much as 40,000 pounds—are most likely to be spotted in the Galapagos from June through November.
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Guatemala

A handmade kite at Santiago Sacatepéquez's Festival de Barriletes Gigantes in Guatemala.

A handmade kite at Santiago Sacatepéquez’s Festival de Barriletes Gigantes. Photo: Shutterstock

Every November 1 in Sumpago (about 30 minutes north of Antigua), the Festival de Barriletes Gigantes—Festival of Giant Kites—merges a Catholic celebration with a 3,000-year-old Mayan tradition of communing with spirits of the deceased (one that is less morbid than most Mexican Day of the Dead customs). Today, the handmade kites address social themes and the festival features lots of special dishes sold in restaurants and around the square. There is a sister festival in Santiago Sacatepéquez on the same day, which is a bit harder to get to but draws smaller crowds. November is the finish of the wet season, so plan to visit the festival early in your trip and take advantage of drier weather in the following weeks.
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Nepal

Durbar Square in Patan village Nepal

Patan’s Durbar Square, Nepal. Photo: Shutterstock

November is the perfect time in Nepal, whether you’re a trekker or just want to explore a fascinating culture. And there’s more to tempt the latter crowd than ever before, with roads leading to villages once accessible only on foot. In November, the air is crisp and clear, without the pre-monsoon dust, so the mountain views are best. And festivals abound: Near Everest, Manu Rimdu is an exorcism festival designed to purge evil from the area, ensure a bountiful harvest, and confer blessings on the villagers and all sentient beings with dancing, prayers, and comic relief. Then there is the very important Festival of Lights, or Tihar, honoring the gods, humans, and animals, which falls each year in either November or late October.
To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Thailand

The view from Anantara Golden Triangle Resort in Chiang Rai, Thailand

The view from Anantara Golden Triangle Resort in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Photo: Anantara

Much of Thailand is at its very best in November, when the mountains are lush and green from the recently receded monsoon, the mornings are diffused with a subtle mist suspended in the valleys, and the sun is gentler as the seasons ease into cooler weather. The rivers are deep and navigable, and the waterfalls are at optimum volume. All in all, it’s an ideal window to travel, before the crowds and costs rise in December.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Thailand. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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India

Drummers at the Kalapthy Festival in Kerala, India

Drummers at the Kalpathi Festival in Kerala, India. Photo: Sanjay Saxena

November is an ideal time to visit almost all of India—except the Himalayas—thanks to the temperate weather. The just-passed monsoon season has given way to relatively clear skies in Delhi and Mumbai, and there are festivals throughout the country, from the Pushkar Camel Fair in Rajasthan to the grand Kalpathi Chariot Festival in Kerala.
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Norway

Northern Lights, Norway

Northern Lights, Grøtfjord, Kvaløya, Norway. Photo: Gaute Bruvik – visitnorway.com

If you’re prepared for some unsettled weather, the benefits of visiting Norway in November include seeing the aurora borealis; trying out glass-blowing, ceramics, or knitting with local artists; and discovering the Norwegian art of “kos,” roughly translated as the practice of gratitude and of consciously appreciating one’s surroundings. During this quieter period locals have more time to share with visitors, now that the busy summer months have passed. There’s also plenty of hiking, kayaking, and even arctic surfing when the weather allows, and whales to be spotted along the country’s coast at this time of year.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Norway here and here. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Australia and/or New Zealand

aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef from an airplane

The Great Barrier Reef, seen from above. Photo: Tourism Whitsundays

Australia and New Zealand were off-limits for so long that now everybody is clamoring to go; airlines are bringing back nonstop flights, making the long journey that much easier. This coming November is one of the few times when there is still availability, and it’s one of the best months for a wide-ranging trip to several different parts of these countries: The water around the Great Barrier Reef is calm, making for good visibility; and the weather is spring-time pleasant in Auckland, Sydney, Kangaroo Island, and the outback; and the peaks on New Zealand’s South Island are still picturesquely snow-capped.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Australia and New Zealand. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Other Smart Options This Month

Click on any of the destinations below to find out why November is a good time to go.

North America and Caribbean

Arizona: Grand Canyon

Florida: Disney World, Orlando

Hawaii: Maui and Oahu (for whale-watching)

 

South America

Argentina: Mendoza

Colombia: Cartagena and Bogota

 

Europe

England: The Cotswolds

Greece: Athens

Iceland (for Northern Lights)

Sicily

Scotland

Malta

 

Asia

Cambodia: Angkor Wat

China: Beijing

Indonesia: Bali

Myanmar

Thailand: Bangkok

Vietnam (southern)

 

Africa

Madagascar: whale sharks

 

Australia and Pacific

Fiji (for November deals)

 

Cruises

Africa Cruises

Antarctica Cruises

 

 

Be a smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. Read real travelers’ reviews, then use the black CONTACT buttons on Wendy’s WOW List to reach out to the right local fixer for your trip. 

Atacama Desert Chile night stars

Where to Go in February: The Best Places to Travel

The depths of winter make for the heights of sightseeing in many destinations that are usually overcrowded; it’s also a prime time for extreme climates on either end of the spectrum, from the desert to Antarctica.

To understand what makes a trip WOW, read these recent reviews from our travelers. And don’t miss the rest of our “Where to Go” series on the best destinations for every month of the year.

Belize

Tobacco Caye - Relaxing at Cabin or bungalow on small tropical island at Barrier Reef with paradise beach, Caribbean Sea, Belize, Central America

Picture yourself enjoying this overwater bungalow on Tobacco Caye, off the coast of Belize. Photo: Shutterstock

Nonstop flights to Belize take off from several U.S. cities that are only about three hours away. Once you’re there you can explore world-class coral reefs, visit uncrowded Mayan ruins, learn to scuba dive (as Wendy’s son did), fish for 100-pound tarpon (which kept her husband busy), and laze beside sparkling Caribbean waters—or you can charter your own private yacht, enjoying fabulous snorkeling, sunbathing, and kayaking.
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Chile and Argentina

Atacama Desert Chile night stars

Chile’s Atacama Desert is a stargazer’s paradise.

It’s summertime in the Southern Hemisphere: That means ideal weather just about everywhere in Chile and Argentina, from Chile’s Lakes District to Mendoza’s wine region to Patagonia. (But be warned: Temperatures in Buenos Aires can reach the high 90s.) If you’re headed to the Atacama Desert, time your trip for early in the month, when the lack of moonlight makes the night skies even more impressive than usual.
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Mexico

Monarch butterflies, Michoacán, Mexico

Monarch butterflies are in full display in Michoacán in February. Photo: Scott Clark/Flickr

February is the best time to see the monarch butterfly migration in the Oyamel forests of Michoacan. After a 3,000-mile journey from the U.S. and Canada, millions of butterflies start to arrive at their wintering grounds in mid-November. They stay until late March, but February is ideal because the butterflies flutter more in the sun as temperatures rise.
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Nicaragua

floating dock in Lake Nicaragua of Jicaro Island eco lodge

Enjoy the tranquility of Jicaro Island, a private-island resort on Lake Nicaragua. Photo: Jicaro Island

February is the height of Nicaragua’s dry season, and the last month before temperatures get uncomfortably hot. The best-quality properties are small and intimate: comfy colonial restorations in cities like León and Granada, and ecolodges along the San Juan River, on an island in Lake Nicaragua, and on the Caribbean and southern Pacific coasts. Despite its reputation from decades past, Nicaragua is one of the safest countries in the Americas, with a very low crime rate. It’s not a democracy, but the only danger is for those in active political opposition to the government.
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Skiing in the Alps

Ski resort in the Alps in a sunny day during winter.

February is the ideal timing for a ski trip to Europe. Photo: Shutterstock

February is the sweet spot for European skiing: It’s late enough in the season that you can count on fabulous, well-manicured snow, and the longer days give you more time on the slopes (or strolling a charming Alpine village nearby). Whether your desired homebase is a ski-in/ski-out hotel or a staffed chalet with room for the whole family, we can connect you to the right expert.
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Costa Rica

Quetzal, Costa Rica. Photo: William Grandados R. Photography

February is the start of the quetzal’s mating season—and a great time to spot them—in Costa Rica’s cloud forests. Photo: William Grandados R. Photography

February falls in the middle of Costa Rica’s dry season. Fill your days with hikes through the jungle, birdwatching in the cloud forest, visits to small sugar-cane and coffee plantations—and of course, plenty of time relaxing along the country’s storied coastlines.
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Panama

The popular Red frog beach on Basimentos Island, Bocas del Toro, Panama.

Bastimentos Island is a 10-minute boat ride from the busier Bocas del Toro, off Panama’s coastline. Photo: Shutterstock

January and February see the best weather of the year in Panama, with less humidity and a cool breeze in the mornings and afternoons. The sun goes down a bit earlier, but the sunsets are amazing.
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Lake Titicaca, Peru

dancer in traditional Andean dress at the Fiesta de la Candelaria Lake Titicaca Peru

The Fiesta de la Candelaria is one of Peru’s largest festivals.

Every February, a mix of Catholicism and Andean traditions are brought together in the Fiesta de la Candelaria, which takes place in Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca. This is one of the largest festivals in the country, celebrated by dancers who come from all over Peru and Bolivia for several days of performances, processions, and competitions.
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Iceland

northern lights over snowy flat plateau and lake in iceland

Northern Lights. Photo: kamilgrygo/Pixabay

February is one of the darkest months of the year in Iceland, bettering your chances of seeing the spectacular display of the northern lights. It’s also when the Winter Lights Festival takes place, with beautiful art installations and cultural events happening all around Reykjavik. Winters can be harsh and unpredictable, and some activities will be unavailable, but the dramatic snowy scenery—not to mention the extra time that locals have available for visitors—can make this a particularly satisfying month to visit and enjoy glacier hiking, horseback riding, snowmobiling, and heli-skiing, topped off with a dip in a natural hot spring (which you may well have to yourself at this time of year) to rest your weary muscles.
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Antarctica Cruises

Zodiac cruise through the ice, Antarctica. Photo: Abby Suplizio

Zodiac cruise through the ice, Antarctica. Photo: Abby Suplizio

By February the sea ice has melted, allowing for longer voyages and prime whale-watching when the humpbacks surface and feed. These shorter autumn days also allow glimpses of the Aurora Australis, or southern lights. What’s more, the icebergs have been beautifully sculpted by summer winds—reflecting the sun’s rays like giant crystal chandeliers—and special offers often come available for these late-season departures.
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Southern Thailand

boats on turquoise water of Ko Phi Phi Le with limestone cliffs coming out of the water in Thailand

Longtail boats off Ko Phi Phi Le, Thailand. Photo: Juan_Luis Pixabay

Southern Thailand is ideal in February, when the oceans are still relatively calm after the crowded peak season, and sunny skies and cooler temperatures prevail before the heat returns in April.
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Cambodia

Angkor Wat at sunrise

These monks have Angkor Wat to themselves at sunrise. Photo: Timothy Baker

In early February, the worst of the hot and steamy weather has not yet arrived—but the huge crowds that descend on Angkor Wat in January have already departed (just make sure to arrive after February 10 in 2024, to avoid the crowds that Chinese New Year brings).
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Botswana

Elephants tussle in Botswana. Photo: Wilderness Safaris/Caroline Culbert

Elephants tussle in Botswana. Photo: Wilderness Safaris/Caroline Culbert

Prices are as much as 40 percent cheaper in February than during peak season, and the vegetation is lush and green from the rains. The periodic thunderstorms that roll through often provide beautiful rainbows, which form a great backdrop for your photos. Plus, many of the wildlife have babies—zebra, wildebeest, antelope—and the predators tend to be more prolific with the greater availability of prey. This is also a time when migratory birds in full, exquisitely colored breeding plumage are in residence.
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United Arab Emirates and Oman

Abu Dhabi Qasr al Sarab camel caravan

Qasr al Sarab camel caravan, Abu Dhabi. Photo: Timothy Baker

February is one of the cooler months of the year for Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Oman, with highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s. This makes it a great time to camp out in Oman’s Empty Quarter, where the sand dunes seem endless; visit the Louvre Abu Dhabi (a good portion of which is outside); or stroll among Dubai’s towering skyscrapers.
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Other Smart Options This Month

Click on any of the destinations below to find out why February is a good time to go.

North America

British Columbia: snow sports & northern lights

Jackson Hole & the Grand Tetons: skiing

Oahu: whale-watching

The Rocky Mountains: skiing (first half of the month)

 

South America

Brazil: Rio de Janeiro and Trancoso

Colombia: Cartagena and Bogota

Galapagos Islands: swimming and snorkeling

 

Europe

Athens

Norway: winter activities

Paris: winter sales

Switzerland: skiing and winter fun

Venice: Carnevale

 

Asia

Asia Cruises

China: Yunnan Province

India: Delhi, Agra & the Taj Mahal and Mumbai

Myanmar

Nepal’s lower elevations

Seychelles

Sri Lanka

Vietnam: central coast

 

Africa and Middle East

Africa Cruises

Cape Town and Winelands, South Africa

 

Australia and Pacific

New Zealand: Bay of Islands and Queenstown

Sydney

 

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beach and rocks at Anse Source d'Argent beach Seychelles

Where to Go in August: The Best Places to Travel

A lot of people ask us where to go in August: It’s one of the few times of year when they can take a week or two off from work, yet it’s also when so many places are hot, crowded, filled with tourists, devoid of locals, and priced at their most expensive. If all you need is an easy beach escape with the family, consider the southeastern United States: Southeast kids are back in school by mid-August, which means lower rates at lovely, breezy, kid-friendly coastal resorts in places like Virginia’s Northern Neck and St. Simon’s and Sea Island, Georgia. If you’re itching for something more adventurous, though, consider the following options.

To understand what makes a trip WOW, read these recent reviews from our travelers. And don’t miss the rest of our “Where to Go” series on the best destinations for every month of the year.

Newfoundland and the Maritimes, Atlantic Canada

Newfoundland scenery

This is typical Newfoundland scenery. Photo credit: Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism

Ever since Wendy went there one August several years ago, she’s been urging other East Coasters to flee to Newfoundland in late summer, as an antidote to the crowds, heat, and beach traffic that choke the U.S. Eastern Seaboard. You get a foreign island with dramatic sweeping landscapes, lighthouses and fishing villages galore, roads to yourself (well, you plus a few moose), a distinct local culture, and incredibly friendly people, all without having to schlep too far from home. (You can fly there via Toronto or Halifax from many U.S. hubs.) A must on any Newfoundland itinerary is the Fogo Island Inn, a fascinating five-star philanthropic experiment that Wendy says has the most soul of any hotel she’s ever seen. Read why Wendy loved it there.  
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British Columbia, Western Canada

Heli-hiking at Kinuseo Falls in Monkman Provincial Park

Heli-hiking at Kinuseo Falls in Monkman Provincial Park, British Columbia. Photo: Hello BC

August days are usually clear and sunny (ideal for seaplane and helicopter flights). It’s prime time for kayaking, hiking, fishing, and river rafting, not to mention bear- and whale-watching. August is when Wendy chose to take her family to Whistler (see We Had the Best Family Trip in Whistler and We Never Put on Skis and I Can’t Believe We Did This: Mountain Climbing in Whistler), as well as to the Discovery Islands (see My Extreme Week in Canada and 6 Otherworldly Escapes That Feel More Remote Than They Are).
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Iceland

Brook and family hike the path from Hellnar to Arnarstapi on Iceland’s Snæfellsness Peninsula.

Hiking on Iceland’s Snæfellsness Peninsula. Credit: Ryan Damm

Iceland’s high season starts to taper off in the second half of the month, meaning that you’ll find fewer crowds, more hotel availability, and somewhat better prices—but the weather is still pleasant for exploring the country’s awesome landscapes.
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London

A rib ride on the Thames River is a fun way to see waterfront sights such as the London Eye.

A rib ride on the Thames River is a fun way to see waterfront sights such as the London Eye.

England’s capital is a smart choice in August: It’s a short flight (relatively speaking), it’s not too hot or crowded, and London hotels that typically cater to business travelers have reduced rates (and many of the city’s museums are free). London in August is such a smart move that that’s when Wendy took her own family there—and you can read what each of her young sons had to say about it in Do’s and Don’ts For Your Trip To London.
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Austria

Wachau Austria view of village and green field

Summer in Austria is all about beautiful weather, long days, and festivals. Photo: Austria Tourism Board

The days are relatively long, the weather is great, and there are music festivals—especially opera—all over the country. Salzburg’s six-week classical music festival is one of the biggest in Europe.
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Great Barrier Reef Islands, Australia

aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef from an airplane

The Great Barrier Reef, seen from above. Photo: Tourism Whitsundays

August brings clear blue skies, good visibility for divers and snorkelers, and calm seas (the wind usually dies down at the end of July). It’s also a great time to view wildlife: dwarf minke whales visiting the northern reefs, manta rays off Lady Elliott Island in the region’s southern zone, and humpback whales—including Migaloo, the world’s only known all-white humpback—on their annual migration to Antarctica.
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Alaska Small-Ship Expedition Cruises

Panoramic view of Glacier Bay national Park. John Hopkins Glacier with Mount Orville and Mount Wilbur in the background. Alaska

John Hopkins Glacier (with Mount Orville and Mount Wilbur in the background) in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska. Photo: Shutterstock

August is especially inviting for a small-ship expedition cruise to Alaska, as daylight remains long, wildlife is plentiful, and the glaciers are uniquely illuminated by the late summer sun. Stay up late at this time of year and you may even be treated to the gorgeous green glow of the northern lights.
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Yellowstone National Park

Grand Prismatic Spring view at Yellowstone National Park

Grand Prismatic Spring view at Yellowstone National Park. Photo: Shutterstock

In August you’ll find warm days and cool nights, wildflowers in bloom, and hiking trails mostly free of snow. Do keep in mind that this is the busiest time in Yellowstone, with prices to match, and skies may be hazy from wildfires. Things are noticeably quieter during the last week of the month, since families have headed home and retirees wait until after Labor Day to visit.
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Washington State: The San Juan Islands

Lime Kiln Point Lighthouse, Haro Straight, San Juan Islands, Washington

Lime Kiln Point Lighthouse, Haro Straight, San Juan Islands, Washington. Photo: Shutterstock

August brings the clearest skies to the San Juans, making it one of the most popular months to visit the region.
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Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons

kayaking in jackson lake grand teton national park

Grand Teton National Park is full of outdoor activities in the summer, including kayaking on Jackson Lake. Photo: Billie Cohen

July and August bring the best weather of the summer, with warm days and cool nights; wildflowers are blooming, hiking trails are usually free of snow, and rivers should be clear of spring runoff, making for perfect fly-fishing conditions. All other summer activities, such as biking, rock climbing, rafting, and horseback riding, are easily available. (Skies may be hazy from area wildfires in August.)
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Kenya Safari: The Great Migration

zebras drinking from a stream in the great migration of animals in Kenya

August and September are the best times to see the annual migration, in which more than a million animals pass through Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve. Photo: Shutterstock

The best time to see the Great Migration—one of the grandest wildlife spectacles on Earth, with more than two million wildebeest and zebra on the move and predators lurking nearby—is July through September, and the best place to be is in the Masai Mara National Reserve. There are more than 15 different river crossings in the Masai Mara (bottlenecks along the migration route where the animals must avoid hungry crocodiles and lions), with great names like Smelly Crossing, Rekero Crossing, Football Crossing, Helicopter Crossing, and Double Crossing. You need to be patient, and in the right location at the right time of day. To increase your odds, consider staying at two camps in different locations.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Kenya here, here, and here. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Costa Rica

Monteverde Costa Rica

Monteverde, Costa Rica. Photo: Shutterstock

Mid-June through midAugust is the middle of the rainy season, but prices are relatively low, everything is lush and green, and weather patterns are predictable: You get beautiful sunny mornings for adventure activities, and the strong showers in the afternoon give you time to rest while listening to the tropical rain that cools things off for the evening.
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The Seychelles

beach and rocks at Anse Source d'Argent beach Seychelles

Chez Batista Villas, Seychelles. Image courtesy of Torsten Dickmann – STB

August is one of the sunniest months in the Seychelles. Rain can occur at any time of the year, but storms are typically short and isolated. Bear in mind that seas can be a little rougher from May to September.
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Rwanda and Uganda: Gorilla Trekking

gorilla group in the jungle, Uganda

The rewards of gorilla trekking in Uganda. Photo: EXPLORE Inc.

The best time for tracking the gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda is June through September, when it’s cool and there is less precipitation (but remember, this is still the rainforest, and storms can hit any day).
Read reviews of WOW trips to Rwanda and Uganda here and here. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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New Zealand

Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand. Photo: Rob-Suisted/New Zealand Tourism

Summer skiing, anyone? August is the top month for skiing in New Zealand: You’ll get the most reliable heli-skiing conditions in August—and combining that with a tropical island like Fiji can be fun.
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Cambodia and Angkor Wat

silhouette Sunrise Fisherman fishing on the boat at Tonle Sap lake Cambodia

Tonle Sap during sunrise, Cambodia. Photo: Shutterstock

Late May through early September is Cambodia’s green season. It rains two days out of three, but the mornings are almost always sunny and bright, with rain clouds gathering toward the late afternoon; get out of bed early to explore when Cambodians are most active ahead of the midday heat, and you’ll enjoy far fewer crowds and vibrantly green rice paddies. Plus, the money you save on shoulder-season hotel rates you can spend on massages, world-class golf, and fine food.
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Other Smart Options This Month

Click on any of the destinations below to find out why August is a good time to go.

North America and Caribbean

Washington: Seattle

Central and South America

Bolivia

Brazil: Rio de Janeiro, Trancoso, and the Amazon

Colombia: Bogota

Ecuador: Quito and the Andes

Peru

Europe

European Canal Barges

Norway

Scotland

Switzerland: hiking in the Alps

Asia and Pacific

Fiji

French Polynesia: Tahiti

India: Agra and Ladakh

Mongolia: camel trekking

Nepal: Upper Mustang

Papua New Guinea: trekking

Africa

Botswana

Madagascar

Zambia

Zimbabwe (second half of the month)

 


 

 

 

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Beautiful Trancoso beach near Porto Seguro in state of Bahia, Brazil

Where to Go in July: The Best Places to Travel

Even in the peak summer travel month of July, there are still plenty of places in the world where you can escape the heat, crowds, and beach-bound traffic jams. Here are ideas for you, gathered from our Insider’s Guides to destinations worldwide.

To understand what makes a trip WOW, read these recent reviews from our travelers. And don’t miss the rest of our “Where to Go” series on the best destinations for every month of the year.

Newfoundland and the Maritimes, Atlantic Canada

Breaching humpback whale, Newfoundland

July is a prime month for spotting humpback whales in Newfoundland. Photo: Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism

Ever since Wendy visited one summer several years ago, she’s been urging other East Coasters to flee to Newfoundland in summer, as an antidote to the crowds, heat, and beach traffic that choke the U.S. Eastern Seaboard. You get a foreign island with dramatic sweeping landscapes, lighthouses and fishing villages galore, roads to yourself (well, you plus a few moose), a distinct local culture, and incredibly friendly people, all without having to schlep too far from home. (You can fly there via Toronto or Halifax from many U.S. hubs.) A must on any Newfoundland itinerary is the Fogo Island Inn, a fascinating five-star philanthropic experiment that Wendy says has the most soul of any hotel she’s ever seen. Read why Wendy loved it there.  
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British Columbia, Western Canada

bear looking at camera on Nakina River in British Columbia canada

Summer is a good time for bear-viewing—just hopefully not this close. Photo: Entree Canada

The days are usually clear and sunny (ideal for seaplane and helicopter flights) and the seasonal wilderness lodges, which typically open in mid-May, have been operating long enough to work out any kinks. The summer months are also prime time for kayaking, hiking, fishing, and river rafting, not to mention bear- and whale-watching.
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Norway

Reine, Lofoten, Norway. The village of Reine under a sunny, blue sky, with the typical rorbu houses. View from the top

The village of Reine in Lofoten, Norway. Photo: Shutterstock

July brings Norway’s best weather. The days are endless, with almost no night, the nature is at its peak, the waterfalls are still large, and you still have some snowcapped mountains in the fjord area.
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Bora Bora, Tahiti, and French Polynesia

Fakarava island in french polynesia with canoe on turquoise blue water

Fakarava atoll, French Polynesia. Photo: Julius Silver/Pixabay

The “Heiva” festival falls during July, with local contests on outer islands early in the month and a culmination of ceremonies in Papeete, Tahiti around the 20th. July also falls during the “Trade Wind” season, when the breezes keep temperatures in the low 80s and the humidity is down as well. It still rains, but in 30- to 40-minute bursts, and then the sun comes out again (a cycle that can repeat a few times through each afternoon and evening). The lagoons can be a bit choppy, but are still great for kite surfing, catamarans, or outrigger canoes with a sail and, of course, sailing.
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Iceland

green hills and waterfalls by Kirkjufell mountain,Iceland

Kirkjufell mountain, Iceland. Photo: Shutterstock

In July Iceland sees about 20 hours of daylight, so you can pack your trip full of the outdoor pursuits that the country is famous for. It’s also when the weather is mildest—which here means average temperatures in the mid-50s—and the roads, hiking trails, and lava caves aren’t blocked by snow.
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Belize

A row of thatched palapas on golden sand on the tiny island of Rendezvous Caye in the Belize Barrier Reef, off the coast of Belize, Central America

Rendezvous Caye on Belize’s barrier reef. Photo: Shutterstock

While July technically falls during the country’s rainy season, the showers are sporadic and typically not a daily occurrence. Hotel rates are lower at this time of year, and it’s also the beginning of lobster season—so you can fish by day and enjoy the freshest possible crustaceans for dinner that very evening. Wendy and her family have enjoyed two idyllic trips to Belize in July/early August, including one when her son got SCUBA-certified right on the dock of their boutique resort.
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Riviera Maya, Mexico

View from the beach in a quiet day at the Mayan ruins in Tulum, Mexico.

A quiet day at the Mayan ruins in Tulum, Mexico. Credit: Journey Mexico

July is technically the rainy season in the Riviera Maya—but it often brings a pause from the spikes in precipitation that come in June and from August through November. Between the sporadic showers, you can enjoy fewer crowds at the archaeological sites, lush tropical foliage that has been revived by the summer rains, and lower rates at the region’s hotels. Plus, July presents the opportunity to swim with the whale sharks that congregate off the cost of Cancun at this time of year.
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Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Great Barrier Reef aerial view

Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Photo: Shutterstock

July is the perfect time for whale-watching on the Great Barrier Reef: You can go swimming or snorkeling with dwarf minke whales, and cruise alongside humpbacks on their annual migration. This being the southern-hemisphere winter, both the air and water temperatures are in the 70s, with plenty of sun and almost no rain.
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Trancoso, Brazil

Beautiful Trancoso beach near Porto Seguro in state of Bahia, Brazil

A Trancoso beach near Porto Seguro in the state of Bahia, Brazil. Photo: Shutterstock

If you are after a taste of the international party scene that put Trancoso on the map, you need to go from January through March. But if you are after peace and quiet, July is pure bliss: Temperatures are still in the high 70s to 80s, and you will often have mile upon mile of palm-tree-backed beaches all to yourself.
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Switzerland

Couple at hiking in the area of Zermatt with the Matterhorn in the background.

Hiking in Zermatt with the Matterhorn in the distance. Photo: Switzerland Tourism/Ivo Scholz

July brings the best conditions for hiking in the Alps. In the Appenzell, you can chat with farmers in their fields; near Interlaken, ride the gondola to the summit of the Jungfrau. After a few days on the trails, rest your legs and soak up the Italian-influenced culture on the shores of Lake Maggiore.
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Alaska

Guests explore on Zodiac in Southeast Alaska, Tracy Arm, calving ice

Guests spot calving ice while exploring in Southeast Alaska. Photo: Lindblad Expeditions/Michael S. Nolan

Until mid-July the mountains are still covered in snow, the flowers are emerging, and the animals have just given birth, so you might see moose out with their calves, as well as just-born fur-seal pups. Plus, the locals are happy that winter is over and that visitors have returned. Temperatures are typically in the mid-60s during the days (which are the longest days of the year) and you’re likely to see active, calving glaciers. All in all, it’s a great time to see the 49th state via a land-based stay, a cruise ship, or a smaller expedition-style vessel.
Read reviews of WOW land trips to Alaska here, and WOW cruises of Alaska here and here. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons, Wyoming

Wildflowers blooming in Grand Teton National Park

Wildflowers blooming in Grand Teton National Park.

You’ll find warm days and cool nights, wildflowers in bloom, and hiking trails mostly free of snow. In the Tetons, rivers should be clear of spring runoff, making for perfect fly-fishing conditions. And it’s prime time for a huge variety of activities—biking, rock climbing, rafting, kayaking, horseback riding. Summer can be busy, but there are creative ways to beat the crowds in national parks.

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Glacier National Park, Montana

Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park, Montana

Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park, Montana. Photo: NPS/Tim Rains

High up on the Canadian border, Glacier has a very short season: The entire Going-to-the-Sun Road (the park’s star attraction, cut into an immense, craggy cliff with amazing vistas) is only open for a few months, typically from late June to October. In July, there will still be snow, but the weather is pleasant. These days, sadly, you’ll find only a few dozen glaciers left from the 150 that were here back in 1850. There are more than 700 miles of hiking trails to choose from, some of which skirt waterfalls and glacial lakes.

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Kenya and Tanzania Safaris

great migration, wildebeest, mara river, masai mara Kenya

Wildebeest crossing the Mara River during the Great Migration, Masai Mara, Kenya. Photo: Hippo Creek Safaris

The best time to see the Great Migration—one of the grandest wildlife spectacles on Earth, with more than two million wildebeest and zebra on the move and predators lurking nearby—is the dry season, since the animals come out looking for water sources. The best place to be is in the Masai Mara National Reserve: There are more than 15 different river crossings—bottlenecks along the migration route where the animals must avoid hungry crocodiles and lions.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Kenya and Tanzania here, here, and here. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Queenstown, New Zealand

Fiordland Lake, helicopter

See Fiordland Lake by helicopter. Photo: Jean-Michel Jefferson

In the southern-hemisphere winter, Queenstown is a snow-capped beauty, and there are not many people around; it is cold but heavenly, and a great time for snowshoeing and touring Fiordland by helicopter.
Read reviews of WOW trips to New Zealand. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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The Arctic

Polar Bear, cubs, Arctic

Summer in the Arctic means great photo opportunities. Photo: Ashton Palmer

The early summer months not only bring reasonably warm weather but also have the advantage of the midnight sun, when the near 24-hour daylight conditions make for superb photo opportunities.
Read reviews of WOW trips to the Arctic. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Other Smart Options This Month

Click on any of the destinations below to find out why July is a good time to go.

 

North America and Caribbean

Caribbean Islands: off-peak rates

Seattle

St. Barts: off-peak rates

 

Central and South America

Bolivia

Brazil: Rio, Pantanal Wetlands, and the southern Amazon region

Colombia: Bogota

Costa Rica: green-season deals

Ecuador: Galapagos Islands and Quito

Peru

 

Europe

Austria

England: London

European Canal Barge Cruises

Malta

Scotland

Sicily: first half of the month

Turkey: Istanbul and Aegean Coast

 

Asia and Pacific

Cambodia: green season

China: Yunnan Province

Fiji

India: Agra and Ladakh

Nepal: Upper Mustang region

Papua New Guinea

Seychelles

 

Africa

Botswana

Madagascar

Rwanda

South Africa: Cape Town

 

 

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Positano on the Amalfi Coast, Italy

Where to Go in October: The Best Places to Travel

Pleasant temperatures, fewer tourists, and shoulder-season deals make October a great time to travel to a large swath of the globe. Since you can’t go everywhere, we’ve pinpointed a few of the optimal spots. From vineyard-hopping in France to whale-shark-spotting in the Seychelles, the following destinations and experiences belong on your October travel list.

To understand what makes a trip WOW, read these recent reviews from our travelers. And don’t miss the rest of our “Where to Go” series on the best destinations for every month of the year.

Italy: From the Cinque Terre to Puglia

Castello di Grinzane and village in Piedmont - one of the most famous wine regions of Italy

Castello di Grinzane and village in Piedmont – one of the most famous wine regions of Italy. Photo: Shutterstock

From the northern coastline to the boot of the heel—and just about everywhere in between—Italy is gorgeous in October. The weather is pleasant, hotels aren’t charging their peak-season rates, and you’ll enjoy a more authentic experience when the people dining beside you at the trattorias are locals, not tourists. On the Amalfi Coast, October is when the throngs of cruise-ship passengers have thinned, prices have dropped (a little), there’s plenty of sun, and the sea is still warm enough for swimming. In Tuscany, festivals for the olive and grape harvests abound, and the fall foliage is stunning. In Rome, you don’t need to wait in line for an outside table in the city’s iconic piazze.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Italy. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Burgundy, France

Burgundy's rolling hillsides

Burgundy’s rolling hillsides. Photo: Trufflepig

The chaos of harvest is over and the grapes are in—which means there’s still lots of activity in the wineries, since the wines are fermenting and the vinification is in full throe, but the winemakers themselves have a little more time to spend with visitors. It’s also the prettiest time: The leaves on the vines turn yellow and gold, and you realize why they call it the Côte d’Or (the golden slopes). And beyond the wines, it’s the most interesting time for seasonal produce: Mushrooms and squashes complement wild game on the menus of the local restaurants.
Read reviews of WOW trips to France. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Madrid, Spain

Old cozy street in Madrid, Spain. Architecture and landmark of Madrid, postcard of Madrid

Cultural events pick up in fall in Madrid. Photo: Shutterstock

In September and October, the blistering summer heat abates and cultural events pick up, with festivals, theater shows, and concerts. It’s also much easier to get a room at one of the new luxury hotels that has opened in the city in recent years, from the Four Seasons to the Rosewood to the Edition.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Madrid. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Austria’s Danube Valley

The Wachau Valley, Austria

The Wachau Valley, Austria. Photo: Austrian Tourist Board

October is at the end of peak season, there’s gorgeous fall scenery, and it’s harvest time in the vineyards, which means that the Heuriger (wine taverns) are especially fun and lively and you’ll probably get to try new wines. More important, especially for wine buffs, many of the smaller (and better) Heurigers aren’t open year-round, but they’re all open in October.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Austria. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Sicily and Malta

Mt. Etna, Sicily.

Mt. Etna, Sicily. Photo: Pixabay

October is one of the most colorful and flavorful months in Sicily and Malta. It is the season of the harvest in Sicily, which means fresh olives, almonds, and chestnuts—not to mention wild mushrooms, prickly pears, and carob—complement the island’s always-bountiful variety of culinary offerings. In nearby Malta, it is still warm enough for swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, or a romantic overnight sail to the island of Gozo with nobody else around. Throughout the region, the air and sea temperatures are still warm and inviting, flights and accommodations are less expensive than during the summer, and the fewer tourists mean you get a more intimate experience with the local people.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Sicily and Malta. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Croatia

aerial view of Hvar island and surrounding sea Croatia

On Hvar, it’s still swimsuit season but the party crowds have gone. Photo: Exeter International

Visit Croatia in the first half of October and you’ll find good weather, fewer tourists, and lower hotel prices than during peak season.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Croatia. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Greece

sunset over sailboats Naxos Town Greece

Boats off the island of Naxos. Photo: Billie Cohen

Smart travelers will let the summer crowds die down, then go to Greece in the fall. As with Croatia, at that time of year you’ll find pleasant temperatures, quieter streets, and lower prices.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Greece. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Turkey

rainbow umbrellas hover over a street of shops and restaurants in Istanbul turkey

Istanbul, Turkey. Photo: Tim Baker

The fall shoulder season is a sweet spot for Turkey: Istanbul and Cappadocia are sunny and mild, while on the Aegean Coast, it’s warm but not sweltering, and the sea is calm.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Turkey. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Utah’s National Parks

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. Photo: Mark Campbell

October is one of the best months to explore Utah’s stunning national parks: The temperatures are generally moderate and the crowds thin. An insider can show you the parks on foot, by vehicle, and even from a helicopter.
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Big Island, Hawaii

Wai'pio Valley Lookout, Hawaii

Wai’pio Valley Lookout, Big Island, Hawaii.

October is the choicest month for the Big Island, as the weather is driest—with daytime temperatures hovering around 85 degrees—and families aren’t traveling, so prices are lower. (The only thing it’s not an ideal time for is surfing.)
Read reviews of WOW trips to Hawaii. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Olympic National Park, Washington

A beautiful sunset on the ocean among the rocks, Cape flattery trail , Olympic Peninsula, Washington state

Sun on the ocean among the rocks, Cape flattery trail, Olympic Peninsula, Washington state. Photo: Shutterstock

In October, the weather is usually pleasant across all three of the park’s environments: the Olympic Mountains, the temperate Hoh Rain Forest, and the rugged Pacific coastline. There may be snow at the high elevations and some rain lower down, but the waterfalls will be flowing, and the area is very lush. Sunsets also tend to be spectacular at this time of year.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Washington. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Japan

Kyoto, Japan gardens at Heian Shrine in the spring season. - Image

Cherry blossoms bloom around Heian Shrine in Kyoto, Japan. Photo: Shutterstock

Autumn in Kyoto brings cooler air and bright red maples (which last into November), magnificent to behold alongside Zen gardens and royal villas.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Japan. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Bali

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, Hindu temple on Bratan lake landscape, one of famous tourist attraction in Bali, Indonesia - Image

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, Hindu temple on Bratan Lake, Bali. Photo: Shutterstock

While October falls during the rainy season, showers are usually limited to a few hours in the afternoon or overnight. It’s also less busy than the high season, making hotel rates more attractive.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Bali. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Northern Thailand

The view from Anantara Golden Triangle Resort in Chiang Rai, Thailand

The view from Anantara Golden Triangle Resort in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Photo: Anantara

Northern Thailand is at its best at the end of the green season: From mid-October to mid-December, the rains have diminished but the waterfalls and rivers are full, and the crowds and higher prices of the late-December to mid-January peak season have yet to arrive. The mountains are lush and green, and morning mists hanging in the valleys send shivers up your spine. (Bangkok is a year-round destination, and short bursts of rain can easily be dodged in the city.)
Read reviews of WOW trips to Thailand. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Northern Chile and Argentina

the red sand of Chile's Atacama desert with tall mountains in the distance

The Atacama Desert of Chile has an otherwordly and beautiful landscape. Photo: Awasi

While both the Atacama Desert in Chile and the region around Salta, Argentina, are year-round destinations, October and November see fewer visitors than other times of year—leaving your vistas of these wide-open landscapes largely free of other travelers. (These are also excellent months to hop a flight to Easter Island, when the place is nearly empty and the weather ideal.)
Read reviews of WOW trips to Chile and Argentina. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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China

Aman Summer Palace, Beijing.

China is huge, of course, and has a wide array of weather patterns, depending on location and elevation. But for a classic China itinerary, October is hard to beat: Skies are blue in Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi’an, and temperatures are so agreeable you won’t need heat or air-conditioning.
Read reviews of WOW trips to China. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Oman

Dhow boat Cruise in Arabian Peninsula, boat on blue water with desert mountains in background

A dhow cruise on the Arabian Peninsula in Oman. Photo: Shutterstock

From mid-September through October, Oman’s weather is perfect: It’s not too hot in the desert and not too chilly in the mountains.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Oman. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Mongolia

An eagle hunter on horseback in Mongolia holding an eagle

An eagle hunter in Mongolia. Photo: Chris Rainier/Nomadic Expeditions

October is when you can attend the one-of-a-kind Golden Eagle Festival—a colorful celebration of a centuries-old Kazakh hunting tradition in the Altai Mountains. When the festival was founded in 1999, only 40 families still hunted with eagles; today more than 400 do so, and many locals rely on the income they earn during the event. Our Trusted Travel Expert can even arrange for you to have dinner with the competitors.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Mongolia. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Vietnam

Wonderful view of the East Gate (Hien Nhon Gate) to the Citadel and a moat surrounding the Imperial City with the Purple Forbidden City in Hue, Vietnam. Hue is a popular tourist destination of Asia.

View of the East Gate (Hien Nhon Gate) to the Citadel and a moat surrounding the Imperial City with the Purple Forbidden City in Hue, Vietnam. Photo: Shutterstock

Since the monsoons hit northern, central, and southern Vietnam at different times, weather across Vietnam varies widely. If your goal is to travel throughout the country, the driest months to visit are October and March. Fall is when you’ll find the best weather conditions in Ho Chi Minh City and the south.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Vietnam. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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The Seychelles

Maia Luxury Resort, Anse Louis Beach, Seychelles

October brings a mix of good weather and value. Photo: Maia Luxury Resort/Lindsey Wallace

October represents a nice balance of great weather (not too hot and little to no rain) and great value (since many of the resorts still have low-season rates). It’s also the best month for snorkeling and diving with whale sharks.
Read reviews of WOW trips to the Seychelles. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

Start a trip to the Seychelles

Other Smart Options This Month

Click on any of the destinations below to find out why October is a good time to go.

North America

California Coast

Hawaii: Maui

Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons National Park (first half of the month)

Mexico City (second half of the month)

Puerto Vallarta (second half of the month)

Riviera Maya (second half of the month)

Yellowstone National Park (first half of the month)

 

Central and South America

Bolivia

Brazilian Amazon

Buenos Aires

Colombia: Bogotá

Costa Rica: fishing, wildlife and turtle hatching

Patagonia (second half of the month)

Peru

 

Europe

Algarve

Andalusia

Athens

Canal Barge Cruises

Cotswolds

Czech Republic

Hungary

Killarney and County Kerry

London

Paris

Portugal

Romania (first half of the month)

Scotland

 

Asia

Agra

Bhutan

China: Yunnan Province

Delhi

Laos

Mumbai

Nepal

Trekking in the Himalayas

 

Africa and Middle East

Botswana

Cape Town and the Winelands

Madagascar

Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains

 

Australia and Pacific

Fiji

French Polynesia (first half of the month)

Great Barrier Reef

Papua New Guinea: trekking

Queenstown hiking and cycling

 

Be a smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. Read real travelers’ reviews, then use the black CONTACT buttons on Wendy’s WOW List to reach out to the right local fixer for your trip.

Wild caribbean beach of Manzanillo at Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Where to Go in January: The Best Places to Travel

Ring in the New Year at home, then get on a plane: Though prices are high through New Year’s, there are deals to be found starting later that first week in January. Tropical and Southern Hemisphere destinations work especially well for those needing a dose of sunshine.

To understand what makes a trip WOW, read these recent reviews from our travelers. And don’t miss the rest of our “Where to Go” series on the best destinations for every month of the year.

British Columbia

two people watching the northern lights in british columbia canada

You’re likely to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights if you visit British Columbia in January. Photo: Cyndie Martinez

January and February have the most reliable snowfall, making it ideal for not just skiing, but also ice-fishing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling in Western Canada. You also have a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights. Those looking for an extra dose of adventure can even mush their own dogsled team from lodge to lodge—led by an expert guide, of course.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Canada. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Costa Rica

Monteverde Costa Rica

Monteverde, Costa Rica. Photo: Shutterstock

January is one of the nicest times of the year weatherwise for a winter escape, right in the middle of the Costa Rican dry season. It is often the only time in the high season that you can plan a last-minute trip and still have your first choice of the top properties.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Costa Rica. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Belize

Goff’s Caye Island, Belize.

Nonstop flights to Belize take off from several U.S. cities that are only about three hours away. Once you’re there you can explore world-class coral reefs, visit uncrowded Mayan ruins, learn to scuba dive (as Wendy’s son did), fish for 100-pound tarpon (which kept her husband busy), and laze beside sparkling Caribbean waters—or you can charter your own private yacht, enjoying fabulous snorkeling, sunbathing, kayaking, and plenty of distance from everyone except your captain and first mate.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Belize. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Mexico’s Interior

Guanajuato's historic center is full of colonial-era mansions and plazas.

Guanajuato’s historic center is full of colonial-era mansions and plazas. Credit: Journey Mexico

Mexico is much more than a one-dimensional beach destination. Sure, fabulous oceanfront resorts and sumptuous private villas abound on its long coastlines. But the country is also home to charming colonial towns such as Guanajuato, Morelia, and Oaxaca, captivating pre-Columbian ruins (especially in Yucatan Peninsula and Chiapas), and a vibrant scene in Mexico City—and in January, these destinations have ideal temperatures and little rain.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Mexico. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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U.S. National Parks

snowy scene of hot spring steaming in winter in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park in winter. Photo: tpsdave/Pixabay

From snowshoeing in Yellowstone to hiking in Joshua Tree, adventures abound in our national parks—even in the middle of winter. If you’re lucky, you might even get to see the Grand Canyon with a magical dusting of snow, or have a view of Yosemite Falls all to yourself.
Read reviews of WOW trips to U.S. national parks. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Argentina

vineyards with snow-capped mountains in background Mendoza Argentina

Mendoza, Argentina. Photo: Shutterstock

January is prime season for hiking in Patagonia, which gets just a bit quieter after the holiday rush. Meanwhile, at the foothills of the Andes, the grapevines in Mendoza sit heavy with ripening fruit. Temperatures hit the 90s in Buenos Aires, so the locals hit the beach—leaving the city easy to navigate, with so little traffic.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Argentina. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Italy’s Cities

Florence, Italy. Photo: Shutterstock

Florence, Italy. Photo: Shutterstock

There are plenty of reasons to fall in love with Rome, Florence, and Milan in January. Temperatures will typically be in the high 40s and 50s during the day, but plan on bundling up to fit in with the locals. Perhaps a new pair of leather gloves to complete your Italian look? They’ll be on sale. Italy generally has only two times during the year when they extend sconti (discounts) in retail shops: January and July. You can find deals at both boutique shops and international-brand stores after the holiday craziness, and you won’t have to fight the crowds so common at other times of the year. Enjoy Rome’s decadently rich hot chocolate as an afternoon treat, or post up next to a funghi (the mushroom-shaped outdoor heaters) and dine al fresco in one of Florence’s beautifully lit piazzas.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Italy. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Thailand

small boat on beach of Koh Phangan island Thailand

Koh Phangan, Thailand. Photo: Journeys Within

Southern Thailand is ideal from mid-January through March, when the oceans are still relatively calm, and sunny skies and cooler temperatures prevail before the heat returns in April. Bangkok, meanwhile, is a year-round destination: There’s always great food and off-the-beaten-path adventures to uncover, and short bursts of rain can easily be dodged while in the city.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Thailand. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Sugarloaf Mountain and Botafogo Neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro by Sunset with Full Moon in the Sky

Sugarloaf Mountain and Botafogo neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Shutterstock

January is the best time to visit Rio—assuming you don’t mind temperatures that regularly hit 105 degrees: It’s the height of summer, Cariocas (Rio residents) are at their most relaxed, and the nightlife is at its peak.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Brazil. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Nicaragua

Nicaragua mountains

Nicaragua. Photo: TPS Dave/Pixabay

In January, the country is lush and green, there is no rain, and the breezes keep temperatures in the high 80s during the day on the coast—perfect for chilling out by the ocean—and in the 70s in the mountains—ideal for hikes in the cloud forest.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Nicaragua. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Sri Lanka

Adams peak also known as Sri pada in Sri Lanka over the Maskeliya reservoir and tea plantations

Adams peak, also known as Sri pada, in Sri Lanka over the Maskeliya reservoir and tea plantations. Photo: Shutterstock

The weather in mid to late January is delightful—spring-like temperatures and blue skies—and it’s a quieter period sandwiched between two busy times: Christmas/New Year’s and Chinese New Year.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Sri Lanka. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Dubai

Burj Al Arab hotel and beach in Dubai

In January, Dubai is still warm enough for beaches, but also has a shopping festival. Photo: Pixabay

January is the cooler season—which in this part of the world means temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s. Designers descend upon the city for the Shopping Festival, when shops and boutiques offer discounts all month long. Read how Brook spent a multi-day layover in Dubai’s desert.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Dubai. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Sydney, Australia

boat sailing in water on Sydney Harbour Australia with famous bridge in background

Sailing on Sydney Harbour. Photo: Tourism Australia

Sydney’s summer months (December to February) bring beach weather, as well as festivals and harborside celebrations: After the world-renowned New Year’s Eve celebrations comes the Sydney Festival, a three-week celebration of the arts culminating with Australia Day on January 26. It’s also the right time to take a surfing lesson at Bondi Beach, go sailing in Sydney Harbour, hike waterside trails, picnic on city parklands, catch an outdoor movie screening or concert, or attend one of the city’s many professional surfing, tennis, cricket, and rugby competitions. (Remember that prices are also at their peak in summer, so book accommodations and tickets early, before they sell out.)
Read reviews of WOW trips to Australia. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

Start a trip to Australia

Other Smart Options This Month

Click on any of the destinations below to find out why January is a good time to go.

North America and Caribbean

Florida: Disney World, Orlando

Hawaii: Oahu (whale watching)

 

Central and South America

Brazil: Salvador and Trancoso

Ecuador: Galapagos

Panama

 

Europe

France: Paris apartment rentals

Iceland: northern lights

Norway: winter activities

 

Asia

Cambodia

China: Yunnan Province

India: Mumbai and Rajasthan

Myanmar’s tropical areas

Nepal’s lower elevations

 

Africa and Middle East

Abu Dhabi

 

Australia and Pacific

New Zealand: Bay of Islands and Queenstown

Papua New Guinea: diving in Milne Bay

 

Cruises

Africa Cruises

Antarctica Cruises

 

 

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Woman holding passport and boarding pass waiting in transit area in the airport, standing by for the next schedule traveling, late delay of the arrival departure, missing checking in

“Cancel For Any Reason” CFAR Travel Insurance: What It Is and How It Works

As a result of Covid, travelers have become more interested in travel insurance than ever. Trip cancellation is a common benefit—but only pays out if you cancel for a covered reason. Additional “Cancel For Any Reason” (CFAR) coverage allows you to cancel your trip without requiring that you justify your reasoning. It may give you the peace of mind you need to book a trip—but there are caveats. Here are the main points travelers need to know about buying and using CFAR insurance.

Cancel For Any Reason coverage is expensive.

Pre-pandemic, CFAR coverage typically added 40% to your insurance premium—but as both interest in and claims against CFAR policies have increased, in many cases their price has too. We looked at six insurance quotes in August 2023 and found that a CFAR clause increased the premiums on five of those products by 50% to 113%. To put this in dollar figures: Standard travel insurance for trip cancellation/interruption and medical expenses on a $20,000 trip may cost $1,000; adding CFAR could bump that up to $1,500 or more.

Don’t expect to get all your money back.

Specifics vary by policy and based on your state of residence, but most plans reimburse 50% to 75% of your nonrefundable, prepaid trip costs. Some have a maximum amount that you can insure (e.g., $10,000 per person).

You can’t add CFAR at the last minute.

To be eligible for CFAR coverage, you must purchase it soon after you make your first trip payment, usually within 14 to 21 days (and in some cases, within just 24 hours of your deposit).

You can’t cancel at the last minute, either.

You’re out of luck if you find out a day before your trip that you must cancel. In order to be reimbursed via a CFAR clause, you must call off your trip at least 48 hours prior to departure.

Covid has impacted the availability of CFAR coverage.

Before Covid, CFAR policies were unavailable to residents of New York State due to state insurance regulations; back in March 2020, in light of Covid, New York’s governor announced that travel insurance companies could sell CFAR policies in the state. While several providers saw Covid as a reason to discontinue offering CFAR coverage entirely, others—including Travelex Insurance Services—have added optional CFAR upgrades.

Is it right for you?

CFAR is an option that can provide some peace of mind, at a price. Whether it’s enough peace to be worth the cost is a personal choice.

Which insurance company should I choose? 

There are many providers, and in our article How to Buy Travel Insurance: What It Covers, When You Need It, you can learn more about what to look for, what to avoid, and how to choose the right one for your specific needs.

 

Be a smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. Read real travelers’ reviews, then use the black CONTACT buttons on Wendy’s WOW List to reach out to the right local fixer for your trip.

globe with airplane flying around it and a first aid kit on the plane - concept for travel insurance

What Medical Evacuation Coverage Do You Need?

They are the nightmare scenarios you’d rather not consider, but still want to prepare for: maybe it’s breaking a leg while biking through Tuscany, or having a heart attack on a remote island with no decent hospital. The good news is that with the right evacuation coverage, you can avoid the $200,000 bill for emergency medical transport to the best regional medical facility, or even home to a hospital you trust. Here’s what you need to know about how to get home if disaster strikes—and how to protect yourself from the financial repercussions.

What kind of medical transportation does conventional travel insurance offer?

Some travel insurance policies will pay for transportation to a medical facility, should you become sick or injured—but they will usually only take you to the nearest facility that they deem appropriate. If you’re traveling internationally, that probably means a clinic or hospital in the country you’re visiting, where you’ll be treated until you’re well enough to take a commercial flight home. At a bare minimum, you should make sure that your insurance provides at least $100,000 in coverage for medical evacuation to the nearest adequate medical center.

What if I want to be flown to a hospital near my home for treatment?

If you’ve been hospitalized away from home but you want to be treated near family and friends, you need a second layer of protection. Specialized medical-evacuation programs such as Medjet, Global Rescue, AirMed International, and Global Guardian will transport members to the hospital of their choice once they are medically stable. You can purchase a short-term membership from one of these programs to cover a single trip, or an annual membership for an entire year’s worth of travel. The cost of medical evacuation to a hospital back home can easily reach $150,000 or more, so this benefit is important on both international and domestic trips. A few travel insurance providers, including Travel Guard and Ripcord, include transport to your “hospital of choice” in some of their plans.

What if I get Covid during my trip?

Only a few medical evacuation programs will transport Covid-positive patients. Medjet will transport members who are hospitalized with Covid while traveling globally (subject to the local safety situation—State Department Level 3/4 advisories prompted by extreme violence may preclude evacuations); their individual memberships start at $99 for eight days of coverage. Covac Global will evacuate Covid-positive members who are not hospitalized, but only if it is deemed “medically prudent to avoid hospitalization”; those not evacuated receive a $500 stipend for each day they spend in quarantine. Individual Covac Global memberships that cover medical evacuations, including for Covid, start at $765 for 15 days.

Which medical evacuation program do you recommend?

Wendy personally has a MedjetHorizon membership covering her and her family, partly because it offers crisis protection too: If during a trip you feel that your safety and security may be threatened—because of a political incident, terror attack, or other crisis—Medjet will come to the rescue. As for travel insurance to get you as far as the nearest medical facility that the insurance company deems appropriate, the policy that Wendy purchases for her and her family members always depends on the circumstances of the trip, but she often chooses and recommends Travelex Insurance Services. That’s because its Travel Select policy is the policy she’s received the best feedback about from travelers, when it comes to reliability, generosity, and customer care. Transparency disclosure: Medjet and Travelex are both sponsors of WendyPerrin.com. But that’s because Wendy believes in them and uses them herself. (Travelex Insurance Services is not related in any way to the defunct currency-exchange business Travelex.)

 

Be a smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. Read real travelers’ reviews, then use the black CONTACT buttons on Wendy’s WOW List to reach out to the right local fixer for your trip.

World globe ball on the white background

The Countries That Are Open to U.S. Travelers and How to Get In

Which countries are open and relatively safe?
The Menu below lists the smartest places where U.S. residents can go now and what the entry requirements are. Note that requirements may be different for children; follow each country’s links for more details.

Are you curious what travel looks like now?
Read these reviews from travelers just back from international trips. They got safe, easy trips because they used the right local fixers to design their itineraries and book their arrangements.

Use the black buttons below to contact the best local expert for arranging a safe, smart, WOW trip. Using Wendy’s questionnaire is the only way to get the priority treatment and WOW perks that the travelers in these trip reviews got.

 


Menu

Europe
Mediterranean:  Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Portugal, Spain, Turkey
Northern and Scandinavia: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom
Central:  Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland
Eastern: Bosnia, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Serbia

Atlantic Islands
Bahamas, Bermuda

Caribbean Islands

The Americas (North, Central, South)
Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Uruguay

Asia
Cambodia, China, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, the Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam

Pacific Region
Australia, Bora Bora and Tahiti (French Polynesia), Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea

Africa: Safaris and Islands
Botswana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, the Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Cradle of Civilization, Ancient Lands, Arabian Peninsula
Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Republic of Georgia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (Dubai, Abu Dhabi), Uzbekistan (Silk Road)

 


Countries Open to U.S. Travelers With No Quarantine

Argentina

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT ARGENTINA


 

Australia

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT AUSTRALIA


 

Austria

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT AUSTRIA


Bahamas

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT THE BAHAMAS


 

Belgium

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT BELGIUM

 


 

Belize

boy jumping in to ocean from a high dock in Belize

Tourism businesses need to earn a Gold Standard Certificate to operate in Belize. Photo: Wendy Perrin

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT BELIZE

 


 

Bermuda

The Reefs, Southampton, Bermuda

The Reefs, Southampton, Bermuda.

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT BERMUDA

 


 

Bhutan

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT BHUTAN

 


Bolivia

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT BOLIVIA

 


 

Bora Bora, Tahiti (French Polynesia)

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT TAHITI + FRENCH POLYNESIA

 


 

Bosnia

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT BOSNIA

 


 

Botswana

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT BOTSWANA

 


 

Brazil

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT BRAZIL

 


 

Bulgaria

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT BULGARIA

 


 

Cambodia

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT CAMBODIA

 


 

Canada

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT CANADA

 


 

Caribbean islands

Idyllic tropical beach with white sand, turquoise ocean water and blue sky at Antigua island in Caribbean

Caribbean islands are opening with various rules and restrictions. Photo: Shutterstock

Entry requirements:

  • Vary by island. See Caribbean Tourism Organization for details

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT THE CARIBBEAN

 


 

Chile

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT CHILE

 


 

China

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT CHINA

 


 

colorfully painted walls on a block of Cartagena Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia, is colorful, almost like New Orleans. Photo: Shutterstock

Colombia

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT COLOMBIA

 


 

Cook Islands

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT THE COOK ISLANDS

 


 

Costa Rica

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT COSTA RICA

 


 

Croatia

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT CROATIA

 


 

Czech Republic

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT THE CZECH REPUBLIC

 


 

Denmark

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT DENMARK

 


 

Dubai and Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates)

Dubai Burj Khalifa view from hotel balcony

Photo: Timothy Baker

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT DUBAI

 


 

Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT ECUADOR AND THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

 


 

Egypt

 

 

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT EGYPT

 


 

Estonia

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT ESTONIA

 


 

Fiji

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT FIJI

 


 

Finland

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT FINLAND

 


 

France

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT FRANCE

 


 

Georgia

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT GEORGIA

 


Germany

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT GERMANY

 


Greece

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT GREECE

 


 

Hungary

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT HUNGARY

 


 

Iceland waterfall Skogafoss in Icelandic nature landscape. Famous tourist attractions and landmarks destination in Icelandic nature landscape on South Iceland. Aerial drone view of top waterfall. -

Skogafoss is one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland. Photo: Shutterstock

Iceland

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT ICELAND

 


 

India

Entry requirements: 

  • Random testing on arrival

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT INDIA

 


 

Indonesia 

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT INDONESIA

 


 

Ireland

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT IRELAND

 


 

Israel

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT ISRAEL

 


 

Italy

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT ITALY

 


 

Japan

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT JAPAN

 


 

Jordan

Entry requirements:

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT JORDAN

 


 

Kenya

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT KENYA

 


 

Laos

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT LAOS

 


Latvia

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT LATVIA

 


 

Lithuania

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT LITHUANIA

 


 

Luxembourg

Entry Requirements:

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT LUXEMBOURG

 


 

Madagascar

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT MADAGASCAR

 


 

Malaysia

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

 

ASK US ABOUT MALAYSIA

 


The Maldives

private villa in the Maldives on a spit of land surrounded by turquoise water

Photo: Soneva Fushi

Entry Requirements:

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT THE MALDIVES

 


 

Malta

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT MALTA

 


 

Mauritius

Entry requirements:

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT MAURITIUS

 


 

Mexico

Tulum Riviera Maya, Mexico

Photo: Journey Mexico.

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT MEXICO

 


 

Monaco

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT MONACO

 


 

Mongolia

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

Montenegro

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT MONTENEGRO


 

Fez Morocco ceramic studio Art d'Argile

The ceramic studio Art d’Argile in Fez Morocco. Photo: Tim Baker

Morocco

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT MOROCCO

 


 

Mozambique

Entry requirements:

  • Full vaccination, or PCR test conducted within 72 hours of departure

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT MOZAMBIQUE

 


 

Namibia

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links: 

Ask us about Namibia

 


 

Nepal

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT NEPAL

 


 

The Netherlands

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT THE NETHERLANDS

 



New Zealand

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT NEW ZEALAND

 


Norway

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT NORWAY

 


 

Oman

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT OMAN

 


 

Panama

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT PANAMA

 


 

Papua New Guinea

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT PAPUA NEW GUINEA

 


 

Peru

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT PERU

 


 

Poland

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT POLAND

 


 

Portugal

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT PORTUGAL

 


 

Qatar

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT QATAR

 


 

Romania

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT ROMANIA

 


 

Rwanda

gorilla standing in the jungle in Rwanda

 

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT RWANDA

 


 

Saudi Arabia

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT SAUDI ARABIA

 


 

Serbia

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT SERBIA

 


 

The Seychelles

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT THE SEYCHELLES

 


 

Singapore

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT SINGAPORE

 


 

Slovakia

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT SLOVAKIA

 


 

Slovenia

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links: 

 

ASK US ABOUT SLOVENIA

 


 

South Africa

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT SOUTH AFRICA

 


 

South Korea

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT SOUTH KOREA

 


 

Spain

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT SPAIN

 


 

Sri Lanka

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT SRI LANKA

 


 

 

Sweden

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT SWEDEN

 


 

 

Switzerland

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT SWITZERLAND

 


 

Taiwan

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT TAIWAN

 


 

Tanzania

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT TANZANIA

 


 

Thailand

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT THAILAND

 


 

Turkey

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT TURKEY

 


 

Uganda

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT UGANDA

 


 

United Kingdom

Entry requirements: 

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT THE UNITED KINGDOM

 


 

Uruguay

Entry requirements:

  • Medical insurance covering Covid-related expenses

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT URUGUAY

 


 

Uzbekistan

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT UZBEKISTAN

 


 

Vietnam

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links:

ASK US ABOUT VIETNAM

 


 

Zambia

Entry requirements:

  • None

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT ZAMBIA

 


 

Zimbabwe

Entry requirements:

  • Full vaccination or PCR test done within 48 hours of departure

Useful links: 

ASK US ABOUT ZIMBABWE

 

Be a smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. Read real travelers’ reviews, then use the black CONTACT buttons on Wendy’s WOW List to reach out to the right local fixer for your trip.

Beautiful sandy beach near Lagos in Ponta da Piedade, Algarve region, Portugal

Where to Go in May: The Best Places to Travel

Mild. Temperate. Those are the words used to describe the agreeable climate in many parts of the globe come May. In many destinations, it’s an oh-so-lovely time to be hiking, sightseeing, or simply people-watching at an outdoor café.

To understand what makes a trip WOW, read these recent reviews from our travelers. And don’t miss the rest of our “Where to Go” series on the best destinations for every month of the year.

Japan

Beautiful Cherry Blossom, Japan

Cherry blossom trees, Japan.

May (after Golden Week, which ends on May 5) brings great weather throughout the entire country. While the cherry blossoms generally peak in April, you can still enjoy the sweet scent and beauty of the blooms in May, but without the crowds.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Japan. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

Start a trip to Japan

Scandinavia

Reine, Lofoten, Norway. The village of Reine under a sunny, blue sky, with the typical rorbu houses. View from the top

The village of Reine in Lofoten, Norway. Photo: Shutterstock

After months of darkness, May’s longer days bring locals out to soak up the sunlight, making the outdoor cafes lively. You’ll also find an abundance of freshly caught seafood, and celebrations throughout the countryside leading up to the summer solstice.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Scandinavia. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

Start a trip to Scandinavia

Santorini and Mykonos, Greece

Oia town on Santorini island, Greece. Traditional and famous houses and churches with blue domes over the Caldera, Aegean sea

Oia town, on Santorini, is famous for its blue-domed churches and white houses overlooking the caldera. Photo: Shutterstock

May through early June is one of the most beautiful times to travel to the Cyclades—the group of Greek islands that includes the iconic spots of Santorini and Mykonos, but also less-crowded favorites of our travelers, including Naxos, Paros, and Sifnos. Days are warm, but the sun is not as relentless as it is in summer. Wildflowers blossom, beaches are empty, and locals welcome you with smiles.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Greece. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

Start a trip to the Cyclades

European Canal Barge Cruises

Wendy biking near a barge in the Burgundy canal in France.

Wendy biking near the barge canal in Burgundy, France. Photo: Timothy Baker

In May, the weather is best (not too hot, not too cool), and the crowds haven’t yet arrived, making this a perfect month to get to know a small slice of the Continent intimately and thoroughly. Read what Wendy loved about her own barge cruise in Burgundy in May.
Read reviews of WOW barge cruises. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

Start a barge cruise trip

Portugal

Vineyards in the Valley of the River Douro, Portugal

Vineyards in Portugal’s Douro Valley. Photo: Shutterstock

The country’s weather is beautiful from March to mid-June. In the Algarve, the coastal towns are not too busy yet, so you can get a table in restaurants and enjoy uncrowded beaches. The Douro Valley’s rolling hills are lush and green from the winter rains, and there is excitement in Porto as the city prepares for summer festivities.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Portugal. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

Start a trip to Portugal

Spain

La Rambla, Barcelona, Spain

La Rambla, Barcelona, Spain. Photo: Ronny Siegel/Flickr

Café terraces open in May, and residents head outdoors to enjoy Spain’s beautiful cities before the heat sets in and the crowds arrive. Spring is the perfect time for strolling and picnicking in the sparkling Mediterranean light. In Madrid, everyone pours into the streets in mid-May to celebrate San Isidro.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Spain. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

Start a trip to Spain

France

Burgundy's rolling hillsides

Burgundy’s rolling hillsides. Photo: Trufflepig

Paris is already crowded by late spring, but May is the optimal time to explore France’s countryside: Down south in Provence, the weather is lovely, there aren’t as many tourists, and fields of poppies are in colorful bloom. In Burgundy, temperatures have usually warmed up after the feast days of the Saint de Glace (which fall in the second week of the month and seem to bring showers or even frost). Later in May, flowers on trees bloom and the vineyards turn a bright springy green. May is also filled with bank holidays and tends to be any French person’s favorite—and it never hurts to see the French in the right mood.
Read reviews of WOW trips to France here, here, and here. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

Start a trip to France

Croatia

view of water and town Rovinj Croatia

Rovinj, Croatia. Photo: Billie Cohen

In late April and May, you have glorious weather, the crowds are thinner, and prices are a little lower than at the height of summer.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Croatia. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

Start a trip to Croatia

The Cotswolds, England

England, Cotswolds, Hidcote gardens. Photo: Jonathan Epstein

Hidcote Manor Gardens in the Cotswolds, England. Photo: Jonathan Epstein

By May, spring has taken hold, so flowers are blooming across the Cotswolds—fruit-tree blossoms, clematis, and wisteria are everywhere. The air smells fresh, and there are so many shades of green. Hotel rates are also lower than in the summer high season.
Read reviews of WOW trips to England. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

Start a trip to the Cotswolds

Los Cabos, Mexico

a villa with a firepit and pool in Cabo Mexico

May in Los Cabos means less crowded beaches and restaurants—and more comfortable temperatures. Photo: CaboVillas

In May, the weather is mild and there’s little chance of rain. The bustle of spring break has passed, so it’s much less busy than just a month prior. That means less crowded beaches and restaurants—but more comfortable temperatures than the very hot summer months ahead. Plus, villa rates are lower than in high season (December through April), with great deals to be had.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Los Cabos. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

Start a trip to Los Cabos

Peru’s Sacred Valley

Springtime at Machu Picchu Peru

Springtime at Machu Picchu. Photo: Luis Felipa

May is a wonderful month to be outdoors exploring the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Choose from a wide variety of hiking trails for easy day hikes or overnight treks through the Andes. Skies are mostly clear, hillsides are green following the heavier rains that have ended by mid-April, and there are fewer crowds. Temperatures are also warmer on average than during the peak season (June through August). Base yourself in the Sacred Valley and enjoy convenient side trips to Machu Picchu and Cusco.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Peru. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

Start a trip to Peru

Rio de Janeiro and the Pantanal, Brazil

a toucan in Pantanal, Brazil. Photo: Matueté Brasil Travel Design

Pantanal, Brazil. Photo: Matueté Brasil Travel Design

Given its large mass and varied geography, the perfect time to visit Brazil depends on what parts of the country you hope to see. May makes for a good city-country combo: some of the best animal sightings in the Pantanal wetlands, and the sunniest skies and a gentler mood in Rio.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Brazil. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

Start a trip to Brazil

Atacama Desert, Chile

Atacama desert, Andes, Chile

Atacama desert, Andes, Chile. Photo: Shutterstock

This geological wonder is typically dry by May—though the Atacama is one of the driest places on the planet, in recent years it’s seen rain showers and even flooding from January to March—and many dormant desert plants are in bloom, transforming the arid landscape. Try to visit during the new moon, when the Atacama’s famously dark sky is at its prime for stargazing.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Chile. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

Start a trip to Chile

Bolivia

small piles of sand dot the Salar de Uyuni salt flat in Bolivia. A snowy mountaintop is in the background

Salar de Uyuni salt flat, Bolivia. Photo: Shutterstock

May is the sweet spot at the Salar de Uyuni salt flats: It’s not too cold, not too crowded, and the Salar is dry enough to cross in a vehicle but you still get some reflections off its surface.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Bolivia. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

Start a trip to Bolivia

Scotland

Kinnoull Hill tower ruins, Perth Scotland, overlooking the River Tay on a clear day

Kinnoull Hill tower ruins overlooking the River Tay, Scotland. Photo: Shutterstock

In May the weather is mild and even warm on occasion, and you won’t have to deal with the August crowds. Since this month falls before peak season (June–September), you can find some bargains, and the hills and roadways are dotted with blooming gorse, a bright-yellow flower.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Scotland. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

Start a trip to Scotland

Mediterranean Cruises

Celebrity Reflection cruise ship

The Celebrity Reflection cruise ship. Photo: Celebrity Cruises

May is the sweet spot: The weather is gorgeous, temperatures are ideal for sightseeing, and crowds are not as abundant as in summer, when kids are out of school and both overseas visitors and Europeans flock to the Mediterranean.
Read reviews of WOW Mediterranean cruises here and here. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

Start a Mediterranean Cruise trip

Aegean Coast, Turkey

view from a wooden gulet boat on Turkey's Aegean Coast

A wooden gulet is an enticing way to explore the hidden islands of the Aegean. Photo: Sea Song Tours

In May the sun is out but it’s not sweltering, the sea is calm, and summer crowds haven’t arrived. Plus, rates are up to 50% lower than during the high season of July and August.
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Jerusalem

Tower of David, Jerusalem, Israel.

The City of David, in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, is an archeological site with remains dating back more than 5,000 years. Photo: Noam Chen

The optimal time to visit Jerusalem is after Passover—which ends on April 30 in 2024—but before summer: During this window, the weather is pleasant and the hotel rates are lower. Particularly wonderful is to be at any of the thousands of kibbutzes that dot the country for the festival of the first fruits for Shavuot.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Israel. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Fiji

aerial view of Savasi Island Fiji

Savasi Island is a 52-acre private island in Fiji with only seven villas. Photo: Savasi Island

May falls during the islands’ drier “winter,” but outside the peak months of June and July, when Aussie and Kiwi vacationers drive up airfares and hotel rates. During the winter, temperatures are at their coolest (with highs hovering around 80), and the occasional rain showers are brief. With less humidity there are also fewer mosquitoes.
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Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

Quito plaza, Ecuador

Quito Plaza, Ecuador. Photo: Myths & Mountains

Ecuador’s capital city, Quito, is called the City of Four Seasons for a reason: The weather can change in the blink of an eye. May falls during the shoulder season, when the temperature is mild, usually reaching the high 60s, and there are fewer travelers. It’s also a great month to combine mainland Ecuador with the Galapagos Islands, before all the families descend in summertime, filling the boats there.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Ecuador. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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A Safari in Namibia

Sorris Sorris Lodge, Namibia

Sorris Sorris Lodge, Namibia. Photo: Tino De Njis/Namibia Exclusive

In May, temperatures are mild night and day, the occasional rains tease the desert wildflowers into bloom, and the animals are fat and happy. Read what Brook and her son loved about Namibia in spring.

Read reviews of WOW trips to Namibia. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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A Safari in Zambia and Zimbabwe

two people paddle past elephants on the Zambezi River in Chiawa, Zimbabwe

Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park is one of the continent’s most magnificent wildlife reserves, in one of its safest and most welcoming countries. Photo: Explore

In May, everything is still verdantly green from the rains and the temperature is delightful, but it’s dry enough that you see plenty of wildlife and there are virtually no mosquitoes or tsetse flies. Game viewing during this time is not quite as intense as later in the season, when it is very dry and dusty, but the landscape is more beautiful and the animals more at ease.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Zambia and Zimbabwe. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Romania

The Corvinesti castle also known as the Hunyad castle, is a Gothic-Renaissance castle in Hunedoara (Transylvania), Romania.

The Corvinesti castle also known as the Hunyad castle, is a Gothic-Renaissance castle in Hunedoara (Transylvania), Romania. Photo: Shutterstock

May and June offer prime weather with the fewest crowds at the country’s dozens of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Available activities range from horseback riding and skydiving to truffle hunting and wine tasting.  Yes, we’re well aware that Romania shares its northern border with Ukraine, but Wendy and her family felt completely safe there last August, and even got to talk with refugees and hear about their experiences.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Romania. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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The Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Kolb studio.

Kolb Studio, Grand Canyon. Photo: Mike Buchheit

Beat the summer crowds and head to the canyon in springtime, when the weather is still pleasant. The right local fixer can have you flying over the canyon, hiking or riding mules into it, and gazing into its vastness from the best vantage points along the rim. (The South Rim is open year-round; the North Rim opens in mid-May.)
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Other Smart Options This Month

Click on any of the destinations below to find out why May is a good time to go.

North America and Caribbean

Hawaii: Maui, Oahu, and the Big Island

Mexico: Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Maya

Montana and Wyoming: Yellowstone National Park

St. Barts: beach and villa vacations

Utah’s national parks

 

Central and South America

Costa Rica: Pacific and Central regions

 

Europe

England: castles, manor houses, and gardens

European canal barge cruises

France: Paris apartment rentals

Germany: Bavaria

Hungary

Ireland: Killarney and County Kerry

Italy: Umbria and Venice

Malta

Norway (in late May)

Turkey: Cappadocia and Istanbul

 

Asia and Pacific

China: big cities and small villages, and Yunnan Province

India: Trekking and tiger reserves

Indonesia: Bali without the crowds

Myanmar’s higher elevations

Nepal

New Zealand, including Queenstown hiking and cycling

Papua New Guinea

Southeast Asia

 

Africa and Middle East

Madagascar

Morocco

Oman

Seychelles

South Africa: Cape Town and Winelands

 

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Lupins bloom above the ancient Inca ruins of Choquequirao in the Andes, Peru

Where to Go in April: The Best Places to Travel

Flowers in full bloom, festive celebrations, and mild temperatures make April a lovely time to visit many parts of the globe. The best deals usually appear starting one week after Easter (which falls on March 31 in 2024).

To understand what makes a trip WOW, read these recent reviews from our travelers. And don’t miss the rest of our “Where to Go” series on the best destinations for every month of the year.

Riviera Maya, Mexico

empty Beach at Caribbean sea in Playa del Carmen, Mexico with footprints

Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, Mexico. Photo: Shutterstock

Starting a week after Easter Sunday and running through May, rates are low, resorts aren’t too crowded, and the weather is pleasant (mid to high 80s) with little rain.
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Hawaii

Makena, Maui beach Hawaii

Makena, Maui. Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

April means an optimal combination of great weather and relatively low prices in the islands. (Just make sure to avoid the crush of visitors and higher rates that Spring Break brings.)
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Belize

Tiny island with coconut trees and boat in Belize

Belize. Photo: Shutterstock

In April, the trade winds are fresh, rains are rare, there are barely any bugs, and high season is winding down. Explore world-class coral reefs, visit uncrowded Mayan ruins, learn to scuba dive (as Wendy’s son did), fish for 100-pound tarpon (which kept her husband busy), laze beside sparkling Caribbean waters—or charter your own private yacht.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Belize. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Paris

view of the Eiffel Tower across the green treetops of the Tuileries Garden taken from a balcony at Le Meurice hotel

View from Le Meurice, Paris. Photo: Billie Cohen

Discover the first hints of spring in Paris while strolling through the Tuileries or pausing a moment under the blossoming trees by Notre Dame Cathedral; in April, the weather is usually mild and the city is bedecked in blossoms. You’ll beat the tourist crowds before they arrive later in the spring and likely catch some excellent art exhibits, too.
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Southern Spain: Seville and Andalusia

City Of Cazorla And Yedra Castle - Cazorla, Jaen, Andalusia, Spain, Europe

City Of Cazorla And Yedra Castle – Cazorla, Jaen, Andalusia, Spain, Europe. Photo: Shutterstock

Come April, the temperatures throughout Andalusia are pleasant, the aroma of orange blossoms is in the air, the light is beautiful, and there are fiestas (and bullfights) all over the region, including all the events during Easter Week.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Spain here and here. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Morocco

camel trek through the Sahara Desert, Morocco.

Wendy and family on a camel trek through the Sahara Desert, Morocco.

Contrywide, the weather is comfortable in April. Temperature extremes are common in the desert, but at this time of year days are warm and nights are just chilly rather than unbearably cold.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Morocco. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Peru

Lupins bloom above the ancient Inca ruins of Choquequirao in the Andes, Peru

Lupins bloom above the ancient Inca ruins of Choquequirao in the Andes, Peru. Photo: Adriana Von Hagen

April sees the best mix of weather both inland and on Peru’s coast; it’s sunny and warm in Lima, and dry and temperate in the Andes. Since the rainy season has just ended, the air is clear, and the fields are green and lush, dotted with the yellow, pink, and mauve hues of quinoa, amaranth, lupines, and potatoes ready to harvest.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Peru. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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The Netherlands

tulips and windmill at Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands

Spring is tulip time in the Netherlands. Photo: Keukenhof Gardens

April is bright and pleasant, and it’s prime time for Tulipmania, when the Keukenhof — one of the world’s largest flower gardens — is full of blooms. King’s Day (on April 27 in 2023) is the biggest street party of the year in Amsterdam; it’s very busy, but a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the Dutch joie de vivre (you can also enjoy the parades and festivities in a more rural setting). By traveling in April, you’ll also miss the public holidays in May that bring out large crowds.
Read reviews of WOW trips to the Netherlands. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Crete

The island of Spinalonga, Crete, Greece. Photo: Blue Palace Resort and Spa

The island of Spinalonga, Crete, Greece. Photo: Blue Palace Resort and Spa

Renowned for its rich local culture, Crete is a wonderful place to visit in April when Greek Orthodox Easter falls during that month. Experience renowned Cretan hospitality throughout the festive celebrations, which are distinctive to Greece’s most southern (and thus warmest) island. There are also beautiful wildflowers in April, fewer crowds, and lower hotel rates than you’ll find later in spring.
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Istanbul

gardens and flowers around a pond at Dolmabahce Palace Istanbul Turkey

Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul.

During the annual tulip festival in April, the city is awash in millions (literally) of colorful blooms. The weather is temperate, perfect for visiting the outdoor ancient sites that can be scorching in summer — and the tourist hordes have not yet arrived. Since it’s shoulder season, there are deals to be had at hotels.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Istanbul. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Mediterranean Cruises

Seabourn Ovation cruise ship

Seabourn Ovation anchored off Montenegro.

April is the perfect month to enjoy the brilliant blue skies in the Mediterranean, when the sunny days start to outnumber the cold and cloudy ones of winter. Cruise ships have just repositioned to the region, so you can explore iconic ports such as Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Rome, and Venice without the crowds and heat of summertime. And fares are lower, since this is considered the off-season.
Read reviews of WOW Mediterranean cruises here and here. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Maldives

overwater bungalow at Joali resort in the maldives

The cantilevered hammocks at JOALI Maldives’ villas. Photo: Ryan Damm

European vacationers drive up prices from Christmas through Easter, but for the few weeks after this period, you’ll find a sweet spot of lower hotel rates and ideal weather: Temperatures are consistently in the high 80s year-round, but in late April there is almost no rain or wind, so the water is calm for snorkeling and diving.
Read reviews of WOW trips to the Maldives. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Namibia

Namib Desert, Namibia

Namibia’s Namib Desert is right on the Atlantic Ocean. Photo: Shutterstock

Starting in mid-April, the temperatures are mild night and day, the occasional rains tease the desert wildflowers into bloom, and the animals are fat and happy. (Brook took her own family on a fun-filled trip to Namibia in April.)
Read reviews of WOW trips to Namibia. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Laos

Luang Prabang, Laos - 26 November 2016: Buddhist monk and the details of architecture of Buddhist temple Wat Xieng Thong in Luang Prabang - UNESCO World Heritage Site

Wat Xieng Thong Buddhist temple in Luang Prabang, Laos. Photo: Shutterstock

Songkran, the Lao New Year, is celebrated in mid-April with a whole week of parades, street markets, and concerts. Tradition holds that revelers douse one another with water in order to wash away the past year’s sins; unlike in Thailand, where you might well be ambushed outside your hotel in the morning, in Laos the locals usually ask before splashing you. (See photos of Brook’s experience in Laos over New Year.)
Read reviews of WOW trips to Laos. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Austria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic

Cityscape views of one of Europe's most beautiful town- Vienna. Peoples on streets, urban life in Vienna Austria

Vienna’s city streets, Austria. Photo: Shutterstock

April means mild weather, springtime flowers, and no bus-tour crowds in Central Europe. In Budapest, the Spring Fair runs all month long with folk music, dancing, and concerts. Crowded summertime destinations, such as Lake Balaton in Hungary and the Wachau Valley in Austria, are relatively tranquil. In the Czech Republic, all the countryside castles are just reopening from their winter dormancy.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Central Europe. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Papua New Guinea

mean with lakatoi boats on beach of Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea. Photo: Pixabay/freesally

In April the rainy season is just ending, so prices are better than in the high months of May, June, and July.
To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

Start a trip to Papua New Guinea

 

Other Smart Options This Month

Click on any of the destinations below to find out why April is a good time to go.

North America and Caribbean

California: Yosemite National Park

Mexico City

St. Barts

Utah’s national parks

 

Central and South America

Bolivia

Brazil: Rio de Janeiro

Colombia: Bogota

Costa Rica: Pacific and Central regions

Ecuador: Galapagos family travel

Patagonia

Peru: Machu Picchu

 

Europe

Croatia (second half of the month)

England: Castles, Manor Houses, and Gardens

European Canal Barge Cruises: deals and tulips

Germany: Bavaria

Greece: Athens

Ireland: Killarney and County Kerry

Italy: Amalfi Coast, Florence, Lake Como villas, and Sicily

Portugal

Romania (second half of April)

Scotland: wildflowers and deals

Spain: Madrid

 

Asia and Pacific

Asia Cruises

China: big cities and small villages, and Yunnan Province

India: trekking and tiger viewing

Indonesia: Bali without crowds

Myanmar

Nepal

New Zealand, including Bay of Islands and Queenstown hiking and cycling

Seychelles

Vietnam: north and central regions

 

Africa and Middle East

Israel and Jerusalem (after Easter and Passover)

South Africa: Cape Town and Winelands

Zambia (second half of the month)

 


 

 

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Fakarava island in french polynesia with canoe on turquoise blue water

Where to Go in September: The Best Places to Travel

Leisure travel usually slows down after Labor Day, as kids go back to school and adults go back to work. But September is a smart month for many places around the world, thanks to fewer tourists and shoulder-season deals. Here is a sampling of the best places to travel in September.

To understand what makes a trip WOW, read these recent reviews from our travelers. And don’t miss the rest of our “Where to Go” series on the best destinations for every month of the year.

Norway

Northern Lights, Norway.

September is the sweet spot for Norway, when it’s still warm enough to spend your days exploring the fjords but the night sky gets dark enough that you have a good chance of catching the Northern Lights.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Norway. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Mediterranean coastlines and islands

colorful boats in Marsaxlokk Harbour, Malta

Marsaxlokk Harbour, Malta. Photo: Exclusively Malta

In September, the Mediterranean region is still sunny (but not too hot) and it’s warm enough to go swimming—and yet the crowds have thinned because kids are back in school. From the Algarve in Portugal to the French Riviera to the Cinque Terre in Italy to Turkey’s Aegean coast, the weather is great for strolling through villages and indulging in the local culinary treats. Don’t forget about islands like Corsica, Sicily, or Malta, either: On the latter, there are village feasts happening in September, with parades, concerts, and even fireworks.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Portugal’s Algarve, France’s Riviera, Sicily, Malta and Turkey during the pandemic. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Ireland

Sheep grazing in Killarney National Park Ireland.

Sheep grazing in Killarney National Park, Ireland. Photo: Celebrated Experiences

September and October, when the summer crowds have gone but relatively warm weather remains, is one of the best times to visit. It certainly might rain—this is Ireland, after all—but that just means you’ll have rainbows!  In September, which is considered high season, leaves start turning, ushering in fall.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Ireland during the pandemic. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Tuscany

tractor harvesting grapes in a vineyard in Tuscany Italy

Vineyards in Tuscany, Italy.

Come September, the vineyard-covered hills across much of Tuscany come alive for the vendemmia, or grape harvest. The rumble of small tractors rolling along the long rows of vines, the chattering of families and farm hands as they snip off individual clusters by hand, the tinkling of glasses and forks against plates as long tables are set up outdoors for everyone to take a break for lunch al fresco…these are the sights and sounds of autumn in Chianti, Montalcino, Montepulciano, and the rest of Tuscany’s wine country.
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Porto and the Douro River Valley, Portugal

Grape harvest in the Douro Valley, Portugal

Harvest in the Douro Valley, Portugal. Photo: Porto Tourism

Late September and early October are typically the time for the grape harvest in the Douro. You can participate by picking grapes (more fun than it sounds) or—better yet—stomping the fruit à la I Love Lucy with your own two feet. There are also some amazing hikes just north of Porto, which are at their best in fall when the weather and landscape are starting to change; options range from easy strolls to expert-level routes.
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Germany

Bamberg Bavaria, Germany. Photo: Claudia Schwenger

Bamberg Bavaria, Germany. Photo: Claudia Schwenger

September hits the sweet spot of pleasant weather and minimal crowds, and there are many charming, open-air harvest festivals taking place. Plus, there’s Oktoberfest, most of which actually falls during September.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Germany. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon view of the watchtower.

The watchtower in Grand Canyon. Photo: Mike Buchheit

After Labor Day, the Grand Canyon gets much quieter, prices fall from the highs of summer, and the weather is still pleasant.
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Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park in fall, Wyoming.

Grand Teton National Park in fall, Wyoming. Photo: NPS

From mid-September to mid-October, the aspens are golden, the area isn’t crowded, and hotels often discount their rates; plus, the grizzly and black bears are more visible as they stock up prior to hibernation, and the elk are bugling. While the weather can be cooler, it’s a good excuse to take advantage of the fireplace in your room.
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Cruises: Alaska, Eastern Canada, Mediterranean

Star Breeze

Setting sail on the Star Breeze. Photo: Windstar Cruises.

As the summer winds down, you can often find the lowest pricing on cruises in iconic destinations like Alaska and the Mediterranean. For those seeking a getaway that’s closer to home, many ships sail routes through New England and Eastern Canada, stopping in places like Boston, Nova Scotia, and Quebec City.
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Mexico City

Mexican national symbol among colonial buildings on Independence Day.

This Independence Day light display in Mexico City shows an eagle devouring a snake—a popular national symbol. Photo: Shutterstock

Mexico City and the country’s colonial heartland (San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Puebla, Queretaro, Michoacan) come alive for independence celebrations, which fall on September 15 and 16. Throughout the month of September, cities and plazas in the region transform with patriotic fervor, commemorating the start of the Mexican War for Independence in 1810. Visitors will find a jubilant atmosphere, and the festivals and parades typically bring with them some of Mexico’s most traditional street snacks.
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French Polynesia

The Brando Resort, French Polynesia

The Brando Beach Villa, French Polynesia. Photo: Brando Resort

Humpback whales approach the islands (mostly Rurutu and Moorea) to give birth and feed from August to October. The waters hold a lot of food that fatten up the babies before they head to the Antarctic. If the whales are calm and the weather is good, you can even snorkel with them and listen to the sounds they use to communicate with each other; it’s really quite an amazing experience.
Read reviews of WOW trips to French Polynesia. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Kangaroo Island, Australia

kangaroos on kangaroo island Australia

Kangaroo Island, off the coast near Adelaide, is a top destination for animal lovers. Photo: South Australian Tourism Commission

Kangaroo Island is Australia’s own Galapagos, a time capsule of the region’s native plants and animals, largely undisturbed by civilization for thousands of years. Kangaroos, wallabies, echidna, koalas, dolphins, sea lions, fur seals, and scores of birds can be seen in their natural habitats all year round; however, antipodal spring is a particularly special time to visit, with clear and warm days returning, wildflowers blooming, and joey kangaroos emerging from their mothers’ pouches. (It’s also before the Australian school holidays hit and families start arriving in October.)
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Trancoso, Brazil

The beach lounge at Villas de Trancoso Brazil

The beach lounge at Villas de Trancoso. Photo: Villas de Trancoso

If you are after peace and quiet, Trancoso’s off-season (i.e., June through September) is pure bliss: Temperatures are still in the high 70s to 80s, and you will often have mile upon mile of palm-tree-backed beaches all to yourself.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Brazil. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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South African Safaris

Elephants, Singita Kruger, South Africa

An elephant family at Singita Kruger, Kruger National Park.

September is glorious in South Africa. The winter chill has left, and spring is on its way. The grasses that grew high after the rainy season have been chomped down, leaving the animals in full view. Cape Town is warming up, and the rains have more or less gone for good. Whales can be seen off the coast, the vineyards are green, and safaris are spectacular throughout the parks and reserves.
Read reviews of WOW trips to South Africa. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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India

Agra Fort - Medieval Indian fort made of red sandstone and marble with view of dome at sunrise. View of Taj Mahal at a distance as seen from Agra Fort.

Agra Fort, with a view of Taj Mahal in the distance. Photo: Shutterstock

September is ideal in Northern India: In Delhi, the monsoon rains have given way to clear skies and pleasant temperatures. At the Taj Mahal, you’ll find the fewest people and the best photographic conditions. It’s also a good time for trekking, with fall color in the Himalaya.
Read reviews of WOW trips to India. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Uzbekistan

View over the mausoleums and domes of the historical cemetery of Shahi Zinda through an arched gate, Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

View over the mausoleums and domes of the historical cemetery of Shahi Zinda through an arched gate, Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Photo: Shutterstock

After the summer heat, Uzbekistan’s weather is once again comfortable for touring the ancient cities of Bukhara, Samarkand, and Khiva, and for hiking in the mountains or camel riding in the Kizil Kum Desert. Click here to read about the trip Wendy and her family took to Uzbekistan.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Uzbekistan. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Other Smart Options This Month

Click on any of the destinations below to find out why September is a good time to go.

North America

The California Coast

Maui

Newfoundland and Labrador

Yellowstone

Central and South America

Argentina: Skiing in Mendoza

Bolivia

Brazilian Amazon

Chile: Atacama Desert

Colombia: Bogota

Ecuador: Quito

Peru

Europe

Arctic

Croatia

Czech Republic: second half of the month

European Canal Barges

Hungary: second half of the month

Iceland: northern lights

The Italian and Swiss Alps

Italy: Florence

Italy: Lakes Region

Italy: Umbria

Italy: Venice

London

Paris

Romania

Scotland

Spain: Andalusia and Madrid

Switzerland

Turkey: Cappadocia

Turkey: Istanbul

Asia

Bali

Beijing

Bhutan

Mongolia

Myanmar

Nepal

Seychelles

Thailand: Bangkok

Africa and Middle East

Botswana

East Africa Safaris

Jerusalem

Madagascar

Morocco: second half of the month

Oman: second half of the month

Rwanda: Gorilla Trekking

Zambia

Zimbabwe

Australia and Pacific

Fiji

Great Barrier Reef

New Zealand: Queenstown

Papua New Guinea: Trekking

 

 

Be a smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. Read real travelers’ reviews, then use the black CONTACT buttons on Wendy’s WOW List to reach out to the right local fixer for your trip.