Photos and Compact Guides
Marseille, the biggest French port on the Mediterranean offers terrific sights, museums, beaches and 300 days of sun a year. The only gangsterism visible is the random violence of the Mistral wind.
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 Greek island ferries - while hotels, restaurants and bars start to close their doors for the winter season.
Best value vacation destinations in 2014
A report on Worldwide Holiday Costs lists the cheapest holiday destination this year as Bali in Indonesia. Note that these countries are not necessarily good September - October, especially the Caribbean listings!
The cheapest countries in Europe are Portugal, Czech Republic and Spain.
Also worth a budget visit are Turkey, South Africa, Vietnam and Mexico.
The cheapest island in the Caribbean is Jamaica (though still not very competitive compared to the previous countries), followed by Dominican Republic and Tobago.
The most expensive countries for tourists are: in Europe, Italy; worldwide New Zealand followed by Australia, Singapore, China and Canada.
So this is how they get high in New Mexico. The International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, USA, September 4-12. Photo by a4gpa.
The Americas, September - October
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.
Hawaii is out of season during these months and the big surf has disappeared, so prices are lower and bargain holidays on offer for careful researchers. There's a huge street party in Honolulu on September 20th and the massive Aloha Festival Floral Parade on September 27.
September is a terrific time to take a road trip around southwest America's awesome canyons and national parks or take a trip around Canada before the chills set in.
Aug 30 - 28
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 a bit further up the coast on September 21st 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 4th-12th; Miami Broward Carnival (Caribbean Culture) on the 12th; Austin City Limits (ACL) Music Festival in Texas, 3 - 5
10 - 12
October; 22-26 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 (especially after the soccer fans leave, but beware social unrest), Chile and Argentina, but Central America is generally overheated, oppressively humid and liable to rainstorms.
Cycling a Velo Bleu on the lovely Promenade des Anglais, Nice, Côte d'Azur, France.
Europe, September - October
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. We love to trot between the Greek Islands by ferry, but beaches in south Spain, Portugal's Algarve or even Turkey beaches will be cheaper.
September is also time for some iconic European festivals, ranging from Venice's Regatta Storica in Italy on the 7th, to Germany's beery Oktoberfest (20
September-5 October) and Spain's Festes de la Mercé in Barcelona 19 - 24 September. European Festival 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.
Old friends greeting in 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.
Africa, September - October
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 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.
And don't ingnore beach holidays along Egypt's Red Sea coasts which are far from Cairo's troubles.
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 Namibia and South Africa offer wonderful self-drive wildlife safaris over both these months.
Hiking the Great Wall of China is a wonder, but NOT the section at Badalang unless you want to share the experience with 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. Photo by Craig Nagy.
Asia, September - October
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.
Celebrating the Gold Coast beaches in eastern Australia, with high temperatures of about 26C and lows of 15C in October, warming up nicely.
Australasia, September - October
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!
Whatever, wherever, happy holidays!
Trek America discounts (USA, Canada, Central America)
Grand American Adventures (USA, Canada, Latin America)
Travel with bank cards
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 on the road
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.
WhatsApp is not the only super-app on the planet, for example LINE has 50 million registered users in Japan and 300 million worldwide. LINE currently offers not only instant messaging but voice/video call for free. WhatsApp will soon allow voice service having been acquired by Facebook.
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.
We're especially impressed by international video calls from an iPod Touch in a wifi zone to a PC via Skype, incredible sound quality and pretty good pictures, though the quality can be erratic depending on the strength of the signal. Use wifi or 3G connection where possible. Be aware that you cannot make or receive emergency services with VoIP.
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.
The main drawback is the number will be new and you may have to own an unlocked phone so either get yours unlocked or buy an already unlocked extra phone. This system is convenient and you only pay for what you use if you buy the right package.
Alternatively check out your provider's deals for using the extended service outside of your registered country.
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!
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