When is the best time to travel?

You’ve always dreamed of going to Egypt, your family tree has roots in Germany and the Czech Republic, and you hear the best beaches are in Thailand.  You’ve got an idea of where you want to go on your trip, but when is the best time to travel?

Given complete flexibility and unlimited time, when is the best time to visit a destination?  There are four primary things to take into consideration:

Yellow leaves cover the floor and a piece of an out of the way temple, found while backpacking in Aso.

Falling leaves color this section of a small, out-of-the-way temple near the dormant volcano Aso in Kyushu, Japan

Weather

Depending on what you want to do in your destination, weather could play a crucial role in your trip.  If you’re going away for a month and your goal is to relax, spend time on the beach and scuba then you’ll want to avoid monsoon season.  If you’re planning on teaching English somewhere for a year then the weather won’t play as much of a role.  Do some research and figure out when the weather is “perfect” for what you want to do.  However, keep in mind that the best weather is when everyone else wants to go there as well.

Peak season

Most experienced travelers try and avoid the peak season.  Everyone wants to be somewhere when the weather is best and this usually ends up being the peak season.  Prices are higher and places tend to be over crowded.  It can often be better to plan your trip around the edges of peak season when the weather isn’t bad, the prices aren’t over the top and the crowds are manageable.

Zane lowe plays during radio one weekend at Privilege in Ibiza, Spain, with a crowd in front of him and lasers in the background

DJ Zane Lowe plays to a crowd during Radio 1 weekend in Ibiza, Spain, where I worked as a photographer over the summer of 2009.

Festivals & Events

Are there any special events or festivals that your destination is known for?  Rio is a beautiful city, but during carnival it’s another place entirely.  The clubs in Ibiza are only really active 3 months of the year.  If you want to be a part of the running of the bulls, you’ve got a small window when you need to be in Spain.  These kinds of festivals and events will draw the crowds and high prices you see with peak season, but there’s no way of getting around it if that’s what you’re there to see or do.

Holidays

Holidays can be a bonus to your travel experience, but they can also be a major problem.  Witnessing how another country celebrates their holidays is one of the best aspects of travel and being an active part of the celebration can be magical.  However, during the holiday seasons, transportation is a nightmare, business and sights close down, and unless you’ve planned for the holiday(s), you’re likely to be stuck for the duration.

What helps you decide when it’s time to visit a country?