When planning a vacation, the two most obvious decisions you have to make are when and where. The when is often decided by when you can actually get vacation, when the family is out of school, when the tax return comes in, when are you not swamped at work? The where is decided by where are the nice beaches, where is it nice in May, where are there no people to bother me or where is there something exciting going on with tons of partygoers?
Once in a while, though, some of us are lucky enough to be able to choose when to go on vacation instead of having our circumstances choose for us. When is the best time then? According to the combined opinions of Forbes, USA Today and US News the best months to take a vacation, in descending order, are July, May, December and September. These months are popular for very different reasons and appeal to a variety of vacation styles and desires. Let’s take a closer look
July is the Midsummer’s Vacation Dream
July is an obvious choice for vacationing. Unless you’re heading to the far southern hemisphere, it’s summertime everywhere. Summertime means lots more free time, suntans and road trips. It also means crowds at every resort and theme park you can think of – which you may like or dislike, but keep it in mind. This is not the time to take a honeymoon or an adult-only trip, unless you are planning a trip to Hedonism in Jamaica, the adults-only resort that is also clothing optional.
Still, why not skip Disney and do something more creative and more unusual in your summer holidays? Try taking the group to Oregon, where July is the best month of the year. Stay in a Treehouse Treesort, nestled high up in the oak groves, where you can choose to zipline to the ground if you’d like to skip the stairs. Horseback riding, rope swinging, rafting and ecological arts and craft classes make it a great choice.
Oregon not far enough from home to suit your tastes? July is also a perfect time to go overseas. Enjoy your sky-high escape in the UK, France, Portugal, Spain, Sweden or Italy. CNN has chosen the best European treehouse escapes and each one is unique and different in the design and activities they offer.
May is Perpetual Party Time for Adults Only
May is the shoulder season in most parts of the world. It is still seasonably temperate but schools have not yet let out so it’s a perfect playtime for grownups. Where is the best place to go? Why, the French Riviera, of course! Expect a crowd, and an exquisite looking one too, because May is packed full of international events.
Fly into Nice in the beginning of the month and head up to Monaco to catch the season finale of the European Poker Tour. The town will be full of high rollers, as the EPT is the richest poker tournament in the world. Online gaming corporation PokerStars hosts EPT events throughout the year in cities like Barcelona and Malta, culminating with the EPT Grand Finale in Monte Carlo in May.
After you’ve experienced watching ordinary looking people win millions of dollars in the glamorous Monte Carlo Casino, take the train south and get your stargazing fix. The Cannes Film Festival takes France by private jet and limousine just a week later. Rub elbows with the likes of George Clooney and Julia Roberts. A week of red carpet fashion watch and celebrity parties on giant yachts is enough to wear anyone out, but May isn’t over yet.
Head back up to Monte Carlo to catch the Monaco Grand Prix, a Formula One race held on the Circuit de Monaco since 1929. This 3.34 kilometer course has some of the tightest turns of any race circuit and prize money upwards to $100 million. It takes 50 engineers 1100 tons of grandstands, 900 tons of pit garages and 20 miles of safety barrier to transform the city streets into one of the world’s most famous racetracks, and between the race and the yachts parked in the harbor, it’s quite a spectacle.
December Craves Tropical
Having a white Christmas is one thing, but the cold of December can get old fast. Go south to the tropics, specifically Costa Rica. Central America has become the new haven for travelers enjoying tropical holidays or even retiring from the United States and Canada. About the size of West Virginia, Costa Rica boasts a variety of microclimates and cultures.
You will find the Caribbean influence with the Rastafarian culture of the east coast and the wild west with caballeros on horseback in the pacific northwest. Costa Rica still ranks #1 on the Happy Planet Index, and the national saying is that here you can have “pura vida,” meaning pure life.
With the increase of expats, international flight arrivals are increasing everyday and you can get to one of its two international airports with two or less stops from any country in the world. Once you get here, the sky is the limit.
Costa Rica has six active volcanoes and another 61 dormant or extinct ones. You can zipline down the sides of the Arenal Volcano or through the cloud forests of Monteverde. Horseback riding tours are not just nose to rear walking tours, but galloping down the beach tours instead.
The country is more than 25% national park where you cannot miss numerous varieties of monkeys, sloths, white-nosed coatis, scarlet and green macaws and more. While CR only consists of .03% of the worlds land mass, it represents a full 5% of its biodiversity. It’s no surprise that the country attracts about 2.6 million visitors each year.
The best part is you can choose to go like a king (in a $20,000 a week vacation rental on the famous surf beach of Tamarindo) or on a budget (in one of hundreds of $15 a night hostels – still on that same beach).
September Brings Seasons Everywhere
The ninth month of the year is seen by many as the best month of the year to travel. It is a time of change. The southern hemisphere starts to thaw and the northern stops sizzling. The flurry of autumn colors make a road trip to New England an easy choice. If you fly to Switzerland you will see the beauty of the snow covered Alps towering above flower-filled temperate valleys. Not different enough?
September is called the golden month in Beijing, China. The weather can still be fairly warm in the daytime, but is delightfully cool in the evenings and mornings. The fall scenery is beautiful to behold and the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival adds a festive atmosphere to the city.
The physical and metaphorical center of Beijing hosts the Forbidden City, the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty through the end of the Qing dynasty, about 500 years. It is now one of the greatest museums in the world. After a day of history, enjoy the view of the palace with a drink at Yin, the unique rooftop bar of the Emporer Hotel.
Of course you have to stroll through Tiananmen Square and hike down the Great Wall of China as you may never get to China again, but you can also spend an afternoon at the Shuang Xing Tang Public Baths, the last public bathhouse in Beijing. There are endless temples, museums and tombs to see, but don’t forget to enjoy the local cuisine too. You never know when you’re going to get a chance to eat a donkey burger again…
So whether your vacation must be planned around family breaks, finances, corporate mandatory closings or your own flight of fancy, there is always somewhere in the world that is perfect to visit right now – whenever right now may happen to end up being.