Travelindicator was never meant to be an isolated and static website. Right from the start we planned to be a social platform for travelers to connect and discover new destinations. It just took us a little while to get there!
Allow us to introduce to you Travelindicator's new messaging, itinerary publishing and user profile system, which will make the whole Travelindicator user experience even better.
We have added user profiles (such as the one below) that display basic information about all of our users. It shows you which places they have saved, what itineraries they have created and which other Travelindicator users have liked their account.
A like may happen if you know a person (let's say if it's your brother, wife or a good friend's account) or if you feel that a user is creating some awesome itineraries and you want to keep track of their latest moves.
You will come across links to user profiles all over the place, for instance when a user leaves a review on a destination or when a user has saved or included a place in one of their itineraries.
The most fun part about user profiles is that we use all of your stored destinations to build a profile that tells you what kind of traveler you are. Whether you for instance are a family person, an adventurer, a thrill seeker and so on!
At Travelindicator you could always store itineraries, but now we have added the possibility to publish them. What this means is that you can build your personal holiday program ("Summer holiday 2015" or "Japan trip January 2016"), find destinations you want to check out and store them to the itinerary, and finally publish them.
Upon publishing they get a link (such as the one below) and you can share them with your friends, colleagues, parents, or whoever... You can add some comments to it to give them further pointers. Pretty neat, right?
Finally, we felt that a site can't truly be social without letting our users communicate with each other. Found that person who seems to like all the same places in Korea as you do? Reach out to him and see if he has any tips for you. Or just tell your friends about those shiny new destinations you just came across!
[All currently written Where to travel to posts: April / May]
Last month Travelindicator started a new series called "Where to travel to in...". With these posts we aim to provide our readers with a thorough analysis of the best travel destinations for every month of the year across the different continents. To get to our recommendations, we use all data and indicators that we have at our disposal at Travelindicator, including the weather, any special dates and holidays that we may be aware of, the relative crowdedness, budget considerations, activities and so on.
Besides giving you specific travel ideas to work with, we will also give you some generic thoughts on regions to check out and/or avoid in the fifth month of the year. Oh and if you want to store our destinations for easy reference, create itineraries and keep track of the weather and cost of a destination, you should register with us! We will slowly work our way through the year, and as we covered the month of April last time around, this month we will continue our coverage with discussing the best May travel destinations.
The best travel destinations in May
In our last instalment we told you that an old Dutch piece of farmers wisdom says that "in May birds lay their eggs". Indeed, while April is still fairly unpredictable weather-wise, May tends to be solidly on the way to "fairly nice" in northern Europe with temperatures reaching the high teens (just under 70 Fahrenheit) and generally speaking a decent amount of sunny days.
While the north of Europe may still be better visited in June (although spring is perfectly nice most of the time), for the south of Europe this may actually be the best time to visit as it will be warm, but not yet hot.
Budget-wise, our stats show a hike in prices in April and May for most of the smaller and larger cities in Europe, as these are the months that Europeans take their spring holidays. In France those will for instance fall anywhere between mid-April and early May, while the Netherlands is off in early May. In terms of crowds, May should nevertheless be a safe bet. Interestingly, a lot of the beach destinations show lower prices for May, which may make for quite an interesting mix with the solid - no let us rephrase that to remove any amibuity - great weather this time of year.
- We would travel to: Berlin (Germany), Paris (France), Diyarbakir (Turkey), Rome (Italy), Nice (France) or Venice (Italy)
- We would avoid traveling to: Mountainous areas like St. Moritz (Switzerland), Ischgl (Austria), or any skiing destination really because who likes the combination of expensive and cold? The furthest north is best avoided as well, places such as Aarhus (Denmark)
While in April, East Asia and Japan in particular were all about the Cherry blossoms, May does not have many events of significance. It does see the Korean Lantern Festival in Seoul (either late April or early May), Waisak in Yogyakarta with a similar purpose, and the Koh Samui Regatta, but none of these are events you should aim to avoid or especially come out for. Do note that May 1 is a holiday in many countries.
Weather-wise this is actually a better time to visit East Asia, as temperatures in for instance the larger cities of East China reach their mid twenties (high seventies if you think in Fahrenheit) and become warm but not yet consistently unbearably hot. Japan and Korea will be just a bit under that, but absolutely pleasant as well.
Further to the South, places like Phuket in Thailand find themselves in an in-between phase where the monsoon hasn't quite started (though rainfall is somewhat higher), but tourism has quieted down a bit from the start of the year. This may be the best time of year to head out here if you prefer it to be a bit more quiet or are looking for a good deal. The alternative is to head out to Gulf of Thailand islands like Koh Samui, which guarantee both great weather and crowds, while Bali will be busy but not crowded (and not cheap but not expensive!). If there is one place we would recommend you to avoid in its entirety, it would be India, most of which sees scorching hot temperatures this time of year.
Africa and the Middle East
If you head to Africa at this time of year, the south is where it's at - we are specifically talking about countries like South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe or Mozambique. And let's throw in Mauritius for good order. Elsewhere in the continent, East Africa gets a lot of rain while North Africa starts heating up. In terms of crowds, you will be out of the high season in most of Africa while in terms of holidays the May 1 Labour Day is probably the only one to really keep in the back of your mind.
In Central America and the northern parts of South America, this is the ramp up to the rainy season with more rain than in the earlier months of the year (for instance in Dominican Republic rainfall spikes in May). The Caribbean is an overall safe bet and we have had a look at hotel prices, these don't seem to fluctuate much throughout the year in most of destinations there.
This time of year, the central parts of South America see pleasant temperatures even at the higher altitudes of countries like Peru. For cities like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro this may be the best time to visit, as temperatures hover around the mid twenties Celsius or high seventies Fahrenheit. Meanwhile you may want to avoid the Amazon as it is at the back of its rain reason. Similarly, as you head further south, past cities like Buenos Aires and all the way down to Ushuaia, things start to get pretty chilly. Those parts are best avoided this time of year, although then again it is a slightly cheaper period.
In North America, many places in Mexico are at their peak in terms of hot weather, something which may be fine in Mexico City (which doesn't get too hot), but we would advise you to avoid cities like Guadalajara. Meanwhile, most of the US is fine to travel to, with even Anchorage reaching the mid teens (60 Fahrenheit).
- We would travel to: the Caribbean, United States, Canada and central South America
- We would avoid traveling to: Central America, Mexico and southern South America
Winter is nearly here in Australia and New Zealand. While in Australia, northern Queensland and cities like Cairns, Brisbane, Darwin or Perth are fine for traveling to year-round, Melbourne and Hobart are getting quite fresh, while Sydney is just about on the edge. In New Zealand places in South Island like Milford Sound reach about 12 Celsius or 54 Fahreheit. It's your call.
[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
Travel Indicator is rapidly expanding its coverage, and we are now nearing 450 travel destinations. One of the goals we target when building our database of destinations is to achieve good or near-perfect coverage of all major holiday destinations, while at the same time adding in many smaller or lesser known cities and regions as well to keep things surprising and interesting for you.
So while in France most attention will be given to cities like Paris or Marseille, we will add plenty of small towns like Gordes or Briançon in as well. You know how the internet is stuffed with lists like "the top x places to visit in y"? You can see Travel Indicator as your dynamic source of such lists. Destinations can be explored by themes, presets or tags* or simply by exploring them all at once and filtering them down from there.
Why you should consider registering
The main benefit of registering is to be able to store locations. In your location results and destination pages you are able to store locations as "should see", "might see" or "should see". In your "My TI" section, you are then able to refer to all locations you have previously stored. In addition to that, you are able to create itineraries ("Summer vacation 2015") and allocate locations to that.
An additional benefit of this is that we keep track of, and show you, how expensive or cheap hotel stays in locations are at the moment. This can look something like the following, where a user has stored a number of must-see locations, and the red and green bullets indicate whether that location is currently (exactly 2 weeks from today) cheap or expensive to book a hotel in.
*Difference between themes, presets and tags
The difference between themes, presets and tags may be slightly confusing. At Travel Indicator we let users vote on 23 attributes for each location, for instance on whether a location has beaches or whether it is adventurous. Based on this we deduce themes. The theme Beach and seaside gives you an overview of all locations where the score for beaches is fairly high, say 50%-60%. If you were to go to the regular search and only set the filter for beaches to 50% and higher, you would get pretty much the same results.
Presets are essentially combinations of themes. A preset like Romantic city trips shows you all locations that score high on "Urban" and "Romance".
Finally, tags are a different beast altogether. These can range from Diving and snorkeling to Awe inspiring nature and are more of a freestyle labeling of whatever 5 tags we think are most relevent to a location.
Besides rapidly adding more and more locations (nearing 300 now), we are also working hard on adding new features to make Travel Indicator ever more useful for its users. Earlier this month we already described a new feature that includes an estimate of the cost of flight ticket prices. Meanwhile we have also added that feature for easy access to the "Budget" menu tab, so that you can instantly see where you could travel for various price buckets from your starting destination:
Of course we kept working hard, and today we are proud to present the next new feature: itineraries. To access this new feature you will have to register an account, and access your "My TI" page. Here you will first of all find an overview of all places you have previously stored as must/should/might see locations, as well as easy access to all the reviews you have left behind. The new feature allows you to group locations together into an itinerary. So if you're looking for places to go to during your trip to Nepal, or during your next summer holiday, this is it. An overview of one such trip may look like this:
Creating a new itinerary or removing old ones can be done straight from your My IT page. Adding locations to your itinerary is done from the location pages and may look like this:
We would love to hear what you think of all of this, so do give us a shout!