Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

Where and When to Travel This Year

by | March 17, 2024

This year is shaping up to be another huge one for international travel.  Travelers are booking trips farther in advance than in past years, and they’re headed to Western Europe in particular. We’re predicting that Europe’s most popular locales will be packed again this year, and that peak season will extend from late April through early October. Sadly, we’re not seeing any relief from the sticker shock that grew out of the post-Covid demand for travel, given the big events that will coincide with Europe’s summer season:  Add the Olympics in France (in July), the G7 Summit in Italy (in June), and Taylor Swift concerts all over the U.K. and Europe (from May through August) to the usual annual events in tennis (Wimbledon and the French Open), soccer (the Champions League), and Formula 1 racing.  If you’re seeking true value for your dollar, watch our WOW Week Travel Talk below (recorded on February 5, 2024), and read on to learn where and when to travel this year.

Fast-forward the video to 2:30 to skip the WOW Week preamble.  Scroll down for the list of the 20 most popular countries for 2024 that we refer to in our talk. 

We are continually updating this article, as the travel landscapes shifts, to alert you to your smartest moves in 2024.

3/17/24 Right now you can get your passport renewed in just 2 to 3 weeks
3/13/24 Get to Thailand before the White Lotus crowds do
2/20/24 How the Olympics could affect your travels: Paris this spring and summer
2/17/24 Five great spring break ideas that combine relaxation, culture, and thrills
1/21/24  Why you should go to Europe this winter (before the spring/summer rush)
1/17/24  The key to big family trips in 2024
1/10/24  How to maximize your vacations this year
1/7/24  Spring break: Unexpected places where prices are not inflated in March/April
1/3/24  Wendy’s 2024 travel resolutions
11/8/23  Save on business-class airfares to Europe for 2024
10/29/23  How to ensure rain doesn’t ruin a winter trip
10/15/23 Time your African safari smartly to get the best value
10/22/23  How to travel safely now  
9/27/23  Europe in 2024:  Where and when you’ll find highest prices, worst crowds 
8/20/23  Europe’s high season is now May-Oct. Shoulder season is Nov-March.

Are you thinking about traveling in the Middle East?  Read these reports from WOW List travelers:
Just back from Egypt
Just back from Turkey
Just back from Dubai
Just back from Jordan and Oman
Just back from Morocco

Are you thinking about traveling near Ukraine? Read these reports from WOW List travelers:
Just back from Poland
Just back from Romania



SOUTH AMERICA: Get it all close to home. South America continues to be an underappreciated destination—even though it has both staggeringly beautiful and enormously varied landscapes, and a cultural fabric that weaves indigenous civilizations with colonial influences. Many destinations there are no farther from home than Europe is, and there’s little to no jet lag (a big plus if you’ve got school-aged kids and you’re traveling during a short school break such as Thanksgiving week or spring break). Brook is just back from Peru; stay tuned for her on-the-ground insights. Read WOW South America trip reviews.

ASIA: Japan is back. After finally reopening its borders in late 2022, Japan was our travelers’ favorite spot in Asia in 2023. If you’re keen to go in 2024, keep in mind that 5-star hotel rates are particularly high for popular periods such as the spring cherry-blossom season. Compare that with China, where luxury brands often charge less than half what they do in Europe. Opportunities also abound in Sri Lanka, which still struggles to attract visitors even though the political situation has stabilized since 2022’s unrest. Read WOW Asia trip reviews.

PACIFIC: Consider Australia and New Zealand only if you can travel at off-peak times. These countries are our travelers’ top two destinations for 2024. If you’re still thinking about traveling there this year, look to the “shoulder seasons,” when the weather is still good but the crowds aren’t there and prices are a bit lower. The good news is that the U.S. dollar is very strong compared to its Australian and New Zealand counterparts, so prices are lower than they were pre-Covid. Read reviews from travelers just back from Australia and New Zealand.

EUROPE: Choose your timing wisely.
The high post-pandemic travel demand for Europe that we saw in 2023 taught travelers that if they want a certain caliber of accommodations and experiences there, they must book farther in advance than before. The result: More of Europe has already been booked for spring and summer than was ever the case in past years. This demand, exacerbated by inflation, will assure that prices remain steep there. If you’re bound and determined to see Europe’s most popular countries—especially Italy, France, and Greece—you’ll find the best value in under-the-radar locations. Experienced local trip-planning experts know which hotels and other service providers most successfully handled 2023’s flood of travelers and are therefore the best bets in 2024. If you can only travel in summer, which in 2023 saw extreme heat and wildfires in southern Europe, learn how our travelers beat the heat in 2023 (hint: stay close to the water) and where you can go to avoid the crowds. If your schedule is flexible, get ideas for successful winter trips here.

Opt for nonstop flights. Every connection creates an opportunity for something to go wrong: a missed flight, lost luggage, an inconvenient delay. The good news is that there are more and more flights from U.S. cities to interesting international locales. If a stop is essential, choose one of the smartest airports for making connections in, and get as close to your destination as you can, as quickly as you can. (In other words, if you’re flying to Croatia and have to connect somewhere, do it in Europe rather than in the U.S.) If you must make a domestic connection to an international flight, consider overnighting at the connection point. (For instance, if you’re flying to Africa via JFK, missing your connection could seriously disrupt your safari plans, so consider spending the night in New York.)

The larger your group, the earlier you need to plan. Since Covid we’ve seen travelers bring more family and friends along—often because they are celebrating a milestone like a graduation, or making memories as a clan of grandparents, their adult kids, and the grandkids. When you only need one hotel room, it’s usually possible to develop the ideal itinerary to suit your interests and trip goals, and then book suitable hotels. But when you need two or more rooms, you may have to patch together hotel availability wherever you can get it and let that dictate your schedule. With a multigenerational trip or other large group, booking early will maximize your options.

Buy travel insurance and evacuation assistance. It can protect your financial investment, cover any medical expenses, and give you peace of mind. If you’re sick or injured, the right travel insurance policy will cover your care at the nearest appropriate facility; you need a second layer of protection if you want to be treated at home.

These are the most popular countries in 2024 (as of January) for our travelers:
1. Italy
2. United Kingdom
3. France
4. New Zealand
5. Spain
6. Vietnam
7. Australia
8. Costa Rica
9. Norway
10. Portugal
11. Cambodia
12. Greece
13. Japan
14. South Africa
15. Ecuador (and the Galapagos)
16. Chile
17. Switzerland
18. Thailand
19. Argentina
20. Iceland


Links to Useful Resources

Just Back: Reviews of our Travelers’ Recent Trips

Where To Go When: Ideal Destinations For Each Month of the Year

Nonstop Flights To Make Your Travels Easier

The WOW List of Trusted Travel Experts


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.

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