[All currently written Where to travel to posts: April / May]
To be honest, we pretty much tend to travel wherever we can, whenever we are able to. We might book that city trip to Shanghai or New York, that long holiday to New Zealand or that island break to Phuket or Aruba without really considering if the time of year we are heading there is really the best time to go or not.
That means we usually go on our way without giving much consideration to the weather or what a certain place will otherwise be like at a given time of year. Sometimes we get lucky and sometimes this brings us somewhere at the worst possible time of year.
This behavior is mostly born out of necessity. Having a busy 9 to 5 job during the week (OK - let's just be honest here and tell you it's really a 7 to 7 job - not talking about maintaining Travelindicator!) and not having a large amount of holidays nor the freedom to easily take them up, means that it is difficult to really plan our trips very much in advance.
But maybe we should change our approach and get a better idea of where to fly off to when we book the next trip. For that reason we are starting a new series of blog posts titled "Where to travel to in..." where we will recommend what places are best to travel to in each month of the year. We start the series with the first episode, where to travel in April*. Note that if you want to browse through our destinations, create itineraries and keep track of certain destinations (e.g. to know when they are most affordable), you can do so by registering here.
* The time of writing is March and that month is nearest to us. Going forward we will of course cover the entire year!
The best travel destinations in April
I guess there are a few things to consider when planning whether to go somewhere during in April. We have systematically worked through a few hundred travel destinations, mostly considering the weather and relative crowdedness (and therefore affordability) of certain destinations. Let's just say that we wouldn't want to check out the beaches of the Costa del Sol in early August. Luckily, April tends to be off-season for most places anyway.
This is the time of year that spring typically really starts to make it presence felt on the continent. In the Netherlands a piece of old farmer's wisdom goes "March wags its tail, April does what it wants and in May birds lay their eggs". Take that for what it's worth.
The average high to low temperature ranges are 8°C to 18°C in Rome (that's 46°F to 64°F), 5°C to 14°C in Amsterdam (that's 40°F to 56°F) and 12°C to 20°C in Athens (that's 53°F to 68°F). So while the north of Europe is still quite fresh, this may in fact be the best time to head somewhere further to the south - you will have decent weather and definitely beat the crowds!
Our suggestions are: Kos (Greece), Crete (Greece), Lisbon (Portugal) or Barcelona. At this time of year we'd still steer clear from cities further to the north. Avoid traveling to: the North of Europe unless you plan on spending most of your time indoors.
Asia in April. For us that means checking out the sakura (Cherry blossoms) in Japan, though as a general rule you will need to head a bit further north to still get to see them. Japan National Tourism Organisation has an overview of all the viewing spots and their corresponding dates. Looking at the rest of the continent, we think you can pretty much skip India, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, er... entire South-east Asia, as temperatures can go as high as 38°C or 100°F in some places. Yep, the North of Asia is where it's at this time of year.
Our suggestions are: Sendai (Japan, for the Cherry Blossoms), Jeju (South Korea), Seoul (South Korea), Hainan (China) or Chongqing (China). As there are no public holidays of significance in these countries in that period (ignoring Qingming Jie in China), traveling to any of them should be a safe bet. Avoid traveling to: South(-east) Asia.
Africa and the Middle East
This may be one of the best times of year to visit Northern Africa. In fact, we are going to tell you that most of the Maghreb (roughly north-western Africa) is pretty excellent for a visit at this time of year. Think about the temperatures in the southern extremes of Europe that we just mentioned, and just add a few degrees to it. South Africa is cooling down but still quite pleasant.
Our suggestions are: Rabat (Morocco), Fes (Morocco) and Tunis (Tunesia), Kruger National Park (South Africa). Avoid traveling to: Central Africa
In April, places in the northern parts of the continent are still too cool to truly enjoy (and in the big cities its always high season anyway, making them not really relevant to our list). Head a bit further south however, and you find the places where we think it's at this time of year. In the United States that means some of the more spectacular national parks and southern cities - it's not quite high tourist season but the weather is perfectly agreeable.
The climate in South America is quite different still, but April is not a bad time to travel there either. In places like Brazil, the temperatures have declined from their highs in January/February, but are still totally doable (when are they ever not, anyway?). Of course, for a visit to the Caribbean this is as good a time as any to go, given their pretty stable climate.
Our suggestions are: Miami (United States), Grand Canyon (United States), Yosemite National Park (United States), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Florianopolis (Brazil), Saint Barthelemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis. Avoid traveling to: Canada and the Northern US
Not surprisingly, this is as good a time of year as any to visit some South Pacific islands. It is also a good time to visit South Australia or New South Wales and Victoria, with temperatures in Sydney and Melbourne hovering around the low twenties (high seventies in Fahrenheit). In New Zealand, some of the more mountainous and South Island destinations are probably best avoided, but it's not a bad time to head north.
Our suggestions are: Sydney (Australia), Melbourne (Australia), Auckland (New Zealand), Waiheke Island (New Zealand), Bora Bora (French Polynesia), Savaii (Samoa). Avoid traveling to: South Island in New Zealand
There is a lot of good stuff to be said about travel. You get to see the world, get to experience new things, meet new people and broaden your horizons. And maybe best of all, if you are like us and working a regular 9 to 5, you get to be away from the constant stress and pressure of your day job.
Yet the unfortunate and somewhat harsh truth is that travel is expensive, which creates an automatic link between how much you earn and how much you get to travel. Of course there are many travel hacks and these can ease the burden a bit, but no one is going to hand you a budget trip to the Maldives... but not to worry, Travelindicator is in our opinion the most useful tool out there right now to find budget alternatives to luxury travel destinations.
Premium travel destinations and their budget alternatives
So that all sounds great, but how do we do that in practice? Not too difficult. Let's say you were to head over to our price rankings of travel destinations and have a look at some of the more expensive ones for each continent. Depending on when you head over to that page and take a look yourself you are going to find different names there, but at the moment we for instance see that Zürich in Switzerland and Yokohama in Japan are pricing themselves out of the market.
So what's next? Well, we head over to the pages of both of those cities and scroll down the page to head to locations similar to Zurich and similar to Yokohama. This gives you an overview of the 25 places most similar to each city according to the Travelindicator.com algorithm. But more interesting perhaps is that under each suggested similar destination, you see an icon. Depending on whether it shows a plus or a minus, that tells you whether at the moment a certain place is cheaper or more expensive.
Note that alternatively, you could zoom in on places nearby a certain destination (for instance here for the Maldives) and you could filter away destinations much further from it. This then gives you a view of destinations close by that may be cheaper or more expensive - here too we show you the icon.
Look. We really do love ourselves some Zurich. Pretty neighbourhoods, historical sites, mountains in the background. But we also know this place is painfully expensive. Our algorithm suggests as cheaper alternatives places like Gwangju (South Korea), Utrecht (the Netherlands), Lindau (Germany) and Cahors (France). Maybe give those a try? More can be found here.
Granted, this one may already be trickier as the Maldives are such a fantastically beautiful place. But not to worry as our amazing algo has got you covered. There are Aitutaki (Cook Islands), Koh Lipe (Thailand), Moorea (French Polynesia) and Rawa Island. Find a few more suggestions in our list here.
Aruba, there are worse places in the world. But there are certainly a lot better places for your wallet! Check out the similar destinations to Aruba for yourself, but may we just go ahead and suggest the likes of Formentera (Spain), Kos (Greece), Antigua and probably most relevant of all: St. Maarten? The latter currently goes for about 15% cheaper than its Dutch brother island.
Our article on this island is titled "Nothing but the beach" which is pretty telling, really. But let's not fool ourselves, it is also a sh*t expensive (apologies) place to travel to! But funnily enough, lots of places have beaches, and a lot of them apparently cheaper than Antigua. You must check those similar yet cheaper destinations for yourself, but may we suggest Carriacou (Grenada), Koh Tao (Thailand), Okinawa (Japan) or Zakynthos (Greece)?
OK, so realistically Kyoto is pretty cool and unbeatable. Temples, shrines, tea houses, parks, it is all in all a pretty fantastic place and probably our favorite city to be in in Japan. But a popular place is never a cheap place. That's why we are going to suggest you a bunch of similar and often cheaper places. First of all there is the equally stunning Nara (Japan) which goes at a 20% discount. Elsewhere in the region there are Ubud (Indonesia) which can be expensive but on average should be about 70% cheaper. The same goes for Chiang Mai (Thailand) and to throw you a bit of a curve ball our algorithm suggests heading over to Europe instead and checking out the lovely Guimaraes (Portugal)
International Pillow Fight Day
Have you ever just wanted to take your pillow into the city and start a giant pillow fight with a bunch of strangers?
Neither have we, but apparently enough of us do because International Pillow Fight Day exists. The event boasts quite an impressive list of locations so there may be one near you; and if not, you can just start one.
Amsterdam is putting on it’s 6th annual pillow fight at Dam Square in the city centre. If you are in search of a unique, apparently fun, though quite ridiculous experience - then look no further.
This movement whilst on the surface is pretty strange carries a message behind it about freedom, enabling the citizenry to use their public spaces for what they wish, without consequence or permission; with the caveat that it does no harm.
We are still pondering how exactly this became a "thing" but there you have it - it exists and we are beholden to tell you about it.
- The date: 4th April 2015
- The place: Dam Square, Amsterdam
- Things to bring: Your soft pillow!
More info here:
So if that’s what you’re into - check out this event, grab your pillow and enjoy - It does look kinda fun.
Here at Travelindicator we tend to be quite open about the fact that we do not actually intend or manage to go in-depth for every single travel destination that we cover. Our purpose in life is to give our readers the basics for lots of destinations in order to help inspire your travels, but we subsequently gladly leave it up to some of the other fantastic travel websites to give you more detailed information on them. Below you will find some of the travel resources we tend to use and have come across in the past, as well as some travel websites that we are partial to.
If you have a travel blog or website and would like to be included in the below list, just drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will see if we can fit your link in anywhere. That is on the condition of course, that we think your website is useful ;)
- Nomadic Matt: We admire his style. To the point, but giving you almost all that you need to know to get started.
- Adventurous Kate: She gets to travel far more than we do, you can label us jealous. But really though, a great resource to get inspired.
- Irene's Travel Blog: Irene's picture heavy travel blog is great, she looks like a person who knows how to have a good time!
- A Luxury Travel Blog: Their slogan is "for those who enjoy the finer things in life" and well, we do enjoy the finer things in life...
- The Shooting Star: We have a soft spot for those giving up their normal lives to go traveling around the globe
- Backpacking Matt: Aims to offer budget conscious travelers and backpackers destinations specific advice, stories of adventure and exploration, travel reviews
- Adventures with family: A family of five from Singapore who like to travel around the world and blog about it
- Flipnomad: A compilation of travel experiences and random but informative travel articles
- Aussie on the Road: We like his massive beard. Ahem, we mean we really like his blog. Picture and content rich, just the way we like it.
- Runaway Jane: Full-time travel blogger and writer, currently living in Barcelona.
- Laura the Explorer: Budget travel and backpacking stories.
- Travel Link Sites: Dedicated to profiling and highlighting travel bloggers.
- The Longest Way Home travel blog directory: We haven't found a more extensive list than this, yet!
- Everything Everywhere travel blog directory: What did we just say? This one is pretty huge as well...
- Expert Vagabond travel blog directory: And one more :-)
- Pommie Travels: A British girl who decided to be her own boss
- Secret Traveller: Sina writes mostly about travelling in Europe and mixes it up with useful guides and travel tips
- Wikitravel: Often our first go-to resource when getting up close with a new travel destination. Quality per location varies, but for the more popular ones you get solid information about how to get in, how to get around, what to see, where to eat, sleep and drink, etc. Highly recommended.
- Lonely Planet: Let's face it, these guys are hard to beat. If you find us traveling anywhere, there is a good chance we will be carrying their guide books in our bag. Their online information is not always very thorough, but always inspired.
Travel guides (country specific)
- Travel China Guide: It took us a bit of time to realise, as they are essentially a travel agency, but their information on major Chinese cities and attractions is hard to beat.
General travel websites and coverage
Some like their holidays active, others like things slow. There is no shame in going on holiday, kicking back and doing absolutely nothing, yet so often in reality it doesn't quite work out like that. Arrive in a new destination, and most of us will instantly want to head out and explore every nook and cranny. We just can't help ourselves.
We have come up with a few locations that will help you a hand in resolving this conondrum. These destinations feature some of the most spectacular scenery seen anywhere in the world, but there is not much to do other than gawk at it in awe, and kick back...
Too good to be true, yep, that is definitely the tag we would attach to Aitutaki, an island of the Cook Islands in the South Pacific that circles around a shallow lagoon. Besides diving into the crystal clear water, laying on the beach under a palm tree and having a bite or a drink in the bars and restaurants on Aitutaki, there is NOT much to do here at all. Just the way we like it.
The Maldives warrant an obvious inclusion in this list. 1,192 coral islands that offer absolutely NOTHING to do except for the most gorgeous shallow waters full of marine life, beaches and fantastic resorts. Go here and laze your days away.
Good old Saba. This tiny Caribbean volcanic island officially forms part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and pops out of sea like a mountain out of nowhere. It has 2,000 inhabitants and has a single road connecting everything. So tiny, yet such great scenery and no way to easily get off the island. Yep, you'll definitely have to relax here.
This is not the kind of Cambodia you had in mind, trust us. No temples, no Khmer era relics. Koh Rong is more like a Thai island without all the development. Fantastically beautiful, yet no resorts and nothing to see or do other than beaches and jungle. Sounds good, right?/p>
Almost everybody can name you a few "Koh" of Thailand nowadays. But not many have heard of Koh Lipe, and looking at its size that is no surprise. Put it back to a Phuket or Langkawi on the map and you can barely spot it. This car-free island has absolutely nothing to do but long stretches of beach with shallow waters in front of it, and a bit of jungle in the interior. Once you get here, you will not be able to do much else than laying back, having a swim, grabbing a drink or bite to eat. And the next day? Rinse and repeat. Love it.