Knowing when to travel – take note of the seasons!

I am constantly surprised by the amount of people who head off overseas after scoring a cheap flight or accommodation package and then complain when there are monsoonal rains/40+ degree humid weather/cyclones. Seasons regularly dictate when and where I travel and I am careful to research my destination properly so that I don’t end up spending my holiday trapped in a hotel as the heavens rain down.

The monsoon in Hanoi. Image source

I don’t want to bore you with detailing the weather conditions of every country around the world, but here are some popular destinations and tips on when to enjoy them.

Western Europe 

Western Europe can be enjoyed all year around and each season has its perks and drawbacks. My favourite time to travel to Europe is in Spring and Autumn – the weather is more temperate, the prices are moderate and there are (slightly) less tourists. Summer is a very popular time to travel as tourists enjoy the warm weather, long days and flock to the beaches – be aware of inflated prices, LONG queues to basically everything and and lots and lots of tourists. Winter can be COLD (although not as bitterly cold as Eastern Europe but more on that later) – but travelling to Europe in Winter has its perks. There is of course skiing and Christmas Markets, as well as the advantage of less tourists (so you can mingle with the locals more) and cheaper prices. But be aware of the drawbacks of shorter days, freezing temperatures and the risk of planes being grounded in blizzard conditions (learnt that the hard way).

♥ Eastern Europe 

Eastern Europe tends to be hot in summer and freezing in Winter, making autumn and spring the ideal times to explore the area. I remember sweltering in Hungary in the height of summer and nearly freezing to death in Prague in Winter (and it only gets worse the further east you go – there are scores dying in Romania and Poland as we speak). The South East is a hugely popular summer beach destination particularly around Croatia so be aware of inflated prices and lots of tourists like the rest of Europe!

♥ Northern Europe 

By far the best time to travel to Northern Europe (Scandinavia, Iceland etc) is in the summer. Yes the prices are higher and the tourists are plentiful but the weather is by far the best and those long loooooong summer days make for plenty of sightseeing and partying time. Winter is long, dark and very very cold. HOWEVER there is the added bonus of seeing the Northern Lights and doing snow related activities such as dog sledding and visiting Santa in Rovaniemi.

♥ Japan

Japan’s summer months are hot, humid and WET – I would definitely avoid travelling in this period. Winter time in Japan is cold but absolutely feasible if you dress appropriately. Spring is absolutely amazing with the blooming cherry blossom trees however the Japanese love to also experience the cherry blossoms leading to high prices, busy trains and sold out hotels. Autumn is a great time to travel with temperate weather and moderate prices.

♥ USA 

The lower half of the west coast of America (San Fran, LA etc) is fine to travel all year round but Spring and Autumn carry the added perks of mild temperatures and less crowds. Further up the coast (Seattle, Portland) the Winters are bitterly cold and dark.

Similarly the East Coast has gorgeous weather in Spring and Autumn.  New York/Boston and the rest of the North East have bitterly cold winters and hot and humid summers.

♥ South Pacific

The best time to visit most of the islands in the South Pacific is during the dry season, which is between May and October. Outside of these months you are looking at high humidity, tropical rain and the risk of cyclones.

♥ Hong Kong

Avoid Hong Kong during the summer, it’s hot and humid and STINKS. Plus the pollution seems even more oppressive. Oh and there are typhoons from September. I personally prefer travelling to Hong Kong in Winter – it’s not too cold and the air quality seems almost cleaner.

One country that I have always wanted to visit but have been put off by its vicious climate is Vietnam. It seems to be either in the grips of a summer monsoon or a winter monsoon, with freezing cold weather or sweltering heat.

If you have been to Vietnam, when did you travel? What was the weather like?


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  • Reply Leanne February 15, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    Hi Swah! I love going to japan any time of year really :) But yep, it can get very hot in summer. Vietnam I went to in late Jan/early Feb and while it was a bit hot in Saigon, it was lovely in Nha Trang, Hoi An etc, cool in Hanoi, and positively freezing in Sapa up north! I’d recommend it :)

    I always used to go to India only between October and Feb, due to the extreme heat there…but this year I’m going in April, as I couldn’t get hols before that. Will let you know how oppressive the heat in Delhi and Rajasthan is!

    • Reply Swah February 16, 2012 at 12:31 pm

      Thanks for your tips Leanne! :) I will try and plan my future Vietnam trip in the late Jan/early Feb period. And can’t wait to hear about your India trip when you’re back – hopefully you don’t melt!

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