196 Countries to Visit, Choose One!
Every now and then, our bodies signal for a break. A break from work, a break from stress and a break from its usual routine. Unfortunately, your brain (Mr. Buzzkillington) will usually give several excuses to why it just cannot take a break right now and the result is: body’s leave application gets denied causing frustration and discouragement.
This time is different though, your body worked up the strength to demand the breather it deserves and your brain finally approved it, but what now? You know you want to travel but you aint got the slightest clue where to. Well that’s what this section is for (if you haven’t figured that out from the title though, then your brain probably resigned a long time ago anyway). If you already know which country you want to visit, don’t get too excited and skip over to the next section just yet; there are a few things that you need to check first:
- Is it the right season or time of the year to visit this country? A simple Google search can answer this question, just type in ‘Country in month’ like ‘Brazil in February’. A number of websites will list out the Pros and Cons of tourism in this season and you can make your decision accordingly. Watch out though, some countries experience completely different weather in each of its regions. For example, Egypt’s North Coast beaches are very pleasant in the summer season while Luxor, Aswan and Sinai are scorching hot and should be visited during the cooler months.
- Do you need a visa to visit that country? If so, do you have sufficient time to apply and receive a visa? When applying for a visa, the embassy will usually require flight and hotel bookings; therefore, try keep your reservations flexible with free cancellation just in case you don’t get it (God forbid). Another piece of advice: apply as early as possible, even if the embassy or visa application office only take a week or two for visa processing because you never know what surprises can come your way. To find out more details regarding visa requirements, you can always contact the country you intend to visit’s embassy or visa application office (such as VFS).
- Does it suit your budget? Run a quick check on flight and hotel fares before setting your mind on a country. Prices are often season based and flight fares are now more volatile than the housing market was in 2008. For example, visiting Brazil in February (during the famous Carnival) can cost 2-3 times more than visiting it in March or April.
If you do not have any particular countries in mind, here is a list of things you can base your decision on:
- Season specific. Searching ‘Best countries to visit in March’ for example, will narrow down your options significantly and give you season specific options. Japan would be a great choice in March due to the cherry blossom. This is the website I sometimes use to help me out: http://www.thebesttimetovisit.com/. Moreover, here are some of the countries I enjoyed, feel free to contact me for more information on each:
- January- Tanzania
- February- South Africa (Brazil would be perfect, I haven’t been YET though)
- March- Iceland (Japan is strongly recommended in March but very expensive)
- April- California or Thailand
- May- U.K. or Turkey (Europe in general is really nice in summer)
- June- Bosnia (I would recommend Russia, I haven’t been YET though)
- July- Spain or Italy
- August- New York or South Africa
- September- Japan
- October- Vietnam
- November- Egypt
- December- Hungary, Czech, Germany, Austria, Netherlands (it’s cold but the Christmas markets and festivities make it worth it!)
- Holiday offers and deals. Travel agents, airlines, GroupOn, travel websites, etc. will often have several deals to different destinations. This is a budget-friendly way to make a decision. Make sure the packages are somewhat flexible though so you can customize the trip to how YOU would enjoy it to the maximum.
- Activity preferences. This is my method of choice! You don’t know where you wanna go, but you know you want to hike or you know you want to spoil yourself with shopping and fine dining (not the adventure I’d want for you but… to each their own). Here are some activities and adventures you might be interested in, remember that you can always combine a number of these into one trip:
- Adrenaline pact adventures such as bungee jumping, sky-diving, paragliding, mountain climbing, abseiling, shark cage-diving, etc.
- Nature and animal watching
- Road tripping (this could be by car or motorcycle, a bike ride down highway 1 in America or a guided tour through the Balkans are great examples)
- Theme parks
- Shows and entertainment
- Shopping and fine dining
- Beautiful beaches
- Scuba Diving
- Fitness training camps
- Yoga and meditation retreats
- Historical and old cities
- Touristic cities (piers, restaurants, street entertainment, etc.)
- Seasonal festivities
Once you have chosen the activities you’re interested in, Google search which countries offer them. I was able to combine adrenaline pact adventures, nature and animal watching, road tripping, hiking, fine dining and beautiful beaches all into one trip to South Africa. Check out my ‘Cape town and the Garden Route’ blog for more details. Remember to check the weather, visa requirements and flight and hotel fares after you’ve picked a country. Moreover, you can also consider visiting more than one country if you have the time. However, make sure your decision is time efficient. I prefer to visit bordering countries by driving, taking a train or a ferry when possible. Although a plane might seem faster, the whole process of flying ends up wasting an entire day.