September - October are superb holiday months in the Northern Hemisphere as the tourist hordes take their kids back to school but the sun still shines brightly in southern parts and seas are warmer than ever. However, by the end of September some summer-oriented tourist facilities start to shut down so public transport can become a problem - such as open-top buses and tourist ferries - while hotels, restaurants and bars start to close their doors for the winter season.
Visit the incredible ancient city of Petra in Jordan. This is the perfect season (October is best), relatively cheap and less crowded than usual due to scary events in parts of the mid-East. ISIS is not threatening Jordan and the country is sensible and tourist-friendly. Temperatures in September should be around 28C (83F) - 16C (62F) and in October 24C (76F) - 13C (57F).
Best value vacation destinations in 2015
According to the British Post Office travel barometer on worldwide holiday costs the cheapest holiday destination in 2015 (and not just for Brits!) is currently Prague in the Czech Republic (a beautiful and interesting old city, best May and September), followed closely by Portugal's beaches and ancient sights (perfect at this time), Spain's Costa del Sol or the spectacular beaches on the Spanish Atlantic coast that should still be warm in September, even if the water is chilly.
Greek islands and beaches are suddenly no longer a cheap option as the government raised restaurant and hotel taxes to 18% on 7th May 2015. Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings but if you've already booked you're stuffed. Also as the possibility of a 'Grexit' (Greece exit from Eurozone) approaches the banking system may be unstable so take plenty of Euro cash.
The cheapest non-European countries listed are Bali island (best May-October), South Africa (pretty good June-September but a bit chilly), Turkey (best May-September), Sri Lanka, Thailand (best December-March) and Costa Rica (best December-April).
The priciest country in Europe is currently Italy, which is a surprise but it's no surprise that Singapore is the costliest place to visit in the world, followed by Dubai, New Zealand, Oman, Australia, Malaysia and Canada.
The Americas, September - October
So this is how they get high in New Mexico. The International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, USA, October 3 - 11. Photo by a4gpa.
Beach vacations will be attractive in California and Texas at this time of year but the weather in Florida is likely to be hot, sticky and stormy. Check USA best beaches for more information.
4 - 27 September is time for the Los Angeles L. A. County Fair, the largest fair in the USA featuring everything from pig racing to rodeos and big name bands or up the coast in San Francisco on Sunday September 27 is the Folsom Street Fair, an outrageous S&M, chains, piercings, tattoos and leather event for those who love to be different or those who love to watch those who love to be different.
October is a fine month for festivals in the USA, with the extraordinary International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico 3-11th; Miami Broward Carnival (Caribbean Culture) on the 11th; Austin City Limits (ACL) Music Festival in Texas, 2 - 4 and 9 - 11 October; 21-25 is the Bull Riders Finals in Las Vegas; and finally New York's Village Halloween Parade on the 31st. English Speaking Festivals.
The Caribbean is pretty much out of the picture these months, as are Mexico's Maya Riviera beaches that may be oppressively hot, with cloudy skies, storms, rough and unclear sea water and plenty of seaweed on beaches. Mexico's Pacific beaches, however, should be brilliant at this time.
Towards the end of October the enlightening Day(s) of the Dead Festival takes place around Mexico, most notably in wonderful Oaxaca - which happens to be not far from Chichen Itza and the Maya Riviera thus making the perfect rounded vacation.
Some of South America's most colourful countries are perfect September - October, such as Peru, Brazil, Chile and Argentina, but Central America is generally overheated, oppressively humid and liable to rainstorms.
Europe, September - October
Cooling off beside the Promenade du Paillon, central Nice, Côte d'Azur, France. September will still be quite warm in Nice (22C/73F-15C/60F), October (19C/67F-12C/54F) with some rainy days.
Europe in September is a perfect month for late beach holidays, with prices down, accommodation options open, sun shining (a definite maybe!) and very warm seas. Southern Europe is obviously the prime target in late summer and Nice is one of our favourites. Many tourist services will, however, start to disappear in October. Beaches in southern Spain, Portugal's Algarve or even Turkey beaches will be good value at this time.
September is also time for some iconic European festivals, ranging from Venice's Regatta Storica in Italy on the 6th, to Germany's beery Oktoberfest (19 September - 4 October) and Spain's Festes de la Mercé in Barcelona 18 - 24 September. European Festivals and dates.
For English speakers London is a great choice with its world-beating free museums and invigorating life but other sensational cities of central Europe such as Paris, Nice, Barcelona, Rome, Venice and Florence are perfect for historic sights and pleasant strolls in balmy, late summer weather.
We love to trot around the Greek Islands by ferry but who knows what state they'll be in by late summer 2015 so maybe give Greece a miss. In 2011 when Greece was on the edge of leaving the single currency, some thought that Greek euro notes could become worthless.
Africa, September - October
Etosha National Park, Namibia. Self drive, camps beside waterholes and vast numbers of animals make this place one of the world's top three wildlife experiences. Add in vast dunes at Sossusvlei, seals on the Skeleton Coast and Namib Desert activities and Namibia is another bucket-list def-do.
North Africa will still be overly hot in September but approaching perfect, warm temperatures and blue skies in October. Magnificent Morocco's beaches, mountains, deserts, buildings and Marrakesh culture await you, along with the less delightful rug sellers and street hustlers. Learn to deal with them, the country is well worth a little hassle.
Travelling to Jordan's spectacular Petra, Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea are no problem now and this is the best time but stay away from border areas and Amman, which isn't up to much anyway.
As for animal viewing, September is a good time for Tanzania and Kenya big game safaris (but avoid coastal areas where there has been some violent Muslim/Christian conflict), while South Africa is very good value and offers self-drive wildlife safaris over both these months.
Asia, September - October
Great Wall of China, Mutianyu section. Photo by Craig Nagy
The Great Wall of China is a wonder, but NOT the section at Badalang unless you want to share the experience with screamingly monstrous crowds of Chinese tourists. Try Mutianyu for a better walk or the 10kms from Jinshanling to Simatai for a taste of the real thing. September/October should be a good time to travel China, unlike much of the rest of the year.
Over in Asia the monsoon rains or typhoons will be happening, and/or heat and humidity will be generally high but China is OK during these two months, as are Bali's beaches, or the exotic attractions of Tibet (though chilly), Russia and Papua New Guinea.
Australasia, July - August
Dressing up in stinger suits on a pontoon above the Great Barrier Reef, half an hour out of Cairns. It was interesting but not even close to the best reef experience we've had. Serious snorkelers/divers should head for Port Douglas or further north for better visibility, coral and marine life.
During these late winter months the weather in northern Australia is fine, so Cairns, the Barrier Reef and Darwin are up for your dollar. Trouble is if you wish to also spend time in the south you may find Sydney and Melbourne to be surprisingly cold. New Zealand is into skiing season so if that's your passion, it's all downhill!
We don't want to discourage travel but need to point out that in these days of Ebola and quite random terrorist attacks or high levels of crime and violence there are certain regions that could be avoided if you wish to minimise risk as a tourist.
Here are some broad generalisations on where NOT to go on vacation. Avoid:
Whatever, wherever, safe travels!
Trek America discounts (USA, Canada, Central America)
Grand American Adventures (USA, Canada, Latin America)
Buy goodies or pay bills (checks) with credit cards when on vacation as they provide insurance as well as delayed repayment but don't draw cash out from ATMs with them (unless it's a new-wave, no-fee card). Interest starts accruing immediately and bank exchange fees in addition to the ATM fee may be unreasonable.
It's better to buy foreign cash at home from a commission-free provider though, of course when you travel you'll have to carry a fat wad around, so the best solution depends on the security of your holiday destination. If you travel a lot and want to get cash from an ATM do some research on transaction fees and get the lowest fee debit (not credit card) card you can find.
Gap Year travellers might consider also acquiring a prepaid Travel Money Card (aka Currency Card) which can be loaded with any amount of any currency before travelling and then topped up by family or friends while the Gappist is still in the big nowhere. Compare prepaid Travel Money Cards.
And of course never pay for anything abroad in your home currency (the exchange rate will be absurd), insist on paying in local currency.
To summarise, buy stuff abroad with a credit card, but try to pay off the balance each month before interest charges blow the wheels off your trolley; get cash from ATMs with a debit card.
Finally, don't go short of travel insurance if you're going to be participating in any kind of marginally dangerous activity, or even a non-dangerous activity in a third world location, that's NOT the way to save money! Use your brain while it's intact!
Social networking while traveling
Keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues while traveling abroad has become so much easier thanks to the internet and social networks.
Travelers logging onto social networks while abroad should ensure that they properly log out before leaving an internet café or similar because in some areas of Africa, East Europe and India it's not unknown for a watcher to access a tourist's Facebook (or similar) account after they leave and send a desperate message to family members about an accident/hospitalisation and needing money urgently. Money transferred of course disappears into a mystery account and no one's the wiser, for the time being.
Making calls to family and friends while traveling used to mean looking around for a phone booth, using phone cards and spending a fat wad, especially for international calls, but these days varied devices are used not only for keeping in touch but also booking transport, entertainment, restaurants, accommodation and more.
Best value communication abroad
1 - Cross-platform mobile instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat, facebook Messenger and Snapchat which allows users to exchange messages or chat from anywhere worldwide free of charge, so long as each party has access to wifi. WhatsApp Messenger is available for smart phones, such as iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia and uses the same internet data plan that you use for email and web browsing at no cost.
2 - Sign up with the new breed of free VoIP [Voice over Internet Protocol] providers such as Skype, Rebtel, Tango and Google Voice/Google+Hangouts which offer free or cheap international calls on a laptop/smart phone/or even iPod Touch.
These cost nothing user to user or a small charge for calling to non internet phones such as land lines or mobile numbers.
3 - Travel with your own GSM cell/mobile phone if it works over the cellular data network type at your destination. Buy or rent a pre-paid sim card at home or on arrival and change the card over immediately.
4 - Not a cheap options but if your purpose is limited to emergencies, buy or rent a prepaid phone, online or at the airport on your arrival.
5 - Old fashioned but check out the new generation phone cards to call just about anywhere, though public payphones are disappearing and so it's hard to find one that works properly when you need to make a call. Also others can't to reach you, unless that is precisely your point!