I am a true wanderlust. I start to plan our vacations 6-12 months in advance, because 1) I want to lock up the best deals 2) I like to have something to look forward to. Sure there is the risk that conflicts in schedule may come up when you book so far in advance, but “knock on wood” I have never had to eat the cost of a vacation.
When I start to think about our vacation plans, I first come up with a wishlist of 10-20 destinations with my wife, based on particular foods, cultures or activities that we want to experience. The next thing I do is find the ideal time to travel to these destination and this is primarily driven by weather.
The best resource for planning your vacations around the ideal time of year is Weather Spark. Unlike traditional real-time weather websites, Weather Spark does not provide information on current weather conditions. The main purpose of the site is to publish historical weather specific data points on over 150K locations around the world.
As an example, my wife and I will be going to White Sands National Park this coming Spring. When I search for White Sands, NM in Weather Spark, I get the following climate summary at the top of the page. If there is only one thing you take away from this, it should be the Tourism Score at the bottom of the summary. The Tourism Score highlights periods during the year that lean more heavily toward clear, rainless days with perceived temperatures between 65°F and 80°F. In the case of White Sands, the “best” time to go is May, June and late August to early October.
Weather Spark also provides a Beach Score chart which highlights periods during the year that lean more heavily toward clear, rainless days with perceived temperatures between 75°F and 90°F.
Generally I utilize the Tourism Score as a reference point, but also take a deeper look at the Temperature and Chance of Precipitation charts and weigh the pros and cons of going to a particular destination based on these factors.
In the case of our trip to White Sands National Park, one of our main objectives is to camp out on the sand dunes, so we really need to avoid the extreme heat of the desert but also the extreme cold. Luckily Memorial Day weekend is an ideal time to go since it’ll be dry and in the upper 80’s during the day and not too cold in the evenings.
So what I’ll do with the 10-20 destinations on our wishlist is to look each one up on Weather Spark and determine when the best time of year it is to go based on our travel objectives. I’ll then try to align those time periods around our holiday periods and see what fits and what doesn’t. That along with the cost of a given trip will determine where we end up vacationing over the next 6-12 months.
The last thing I want to do or want anyone else to experience is a trip to their dream destination during the middle of rainy season or experience extreme cold or heat. So before planning your next trip, make sure to utilize Weather Spark as a planning tool.