English Speaking Countries
GAA runs varied small-group vacations to Alaska, including wildlife in Kenai Fjords, Denali and Wrangell St Elais National Parks. Trips include: Alaskan Highlights; Alaska, Yukon & Arctic Circle; Alaska Wildlife & Wilderness; Denali National Park & Alaskan Adventure Cruise
Native English language destinations are easy to get around for English speakers, historically interesting, generally safe from violent crime, offer few health problems and are often blessed with spectacular scenery. Careful, eco-friendly development of these landscapes and the provision of appropriate facilities and safety measures makes these countries among the best in the world for outdoor pursuits, especially hiking and cycling, while those who enjoy riskier adrenalin activities know there is quality medial backup not far away.
English speaking countries tend not to be cheap, the weather is often unpredictable, cuisine can be dull and not dissimilar to one's home diet (maybe that's a good point?) and the thrill of exotic discovery is distinctly lacking.
Self drive car hire is often the best way to get around these spacious, picturesque countries when you've had enough city culture. Good infrastructure, safe driving conditions and good quality rental cars at a reasonable price give drivers the freedom to escape timetables and pick the right spot at the right time for the right activity.
TrekAmerica offers a huge range of good value, small group road trips for 18-38s including Grand Canyon, California Dreaming (Yosemite Camping), Alaskan Wonder, Southern Sun (New York to LA Camping), Cowboy Camp (Wild West), Discounts
The US embraces so much to see and do that tourists need to focus and not try to see everything in one holiday. The bucket-list cities of New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas are just an urban starting point, while the great outdoors offers similarly iconic destinations, such as the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Arches NP (our favourite), Yosemite NP, Florida beaches, Yellowstone NP. Then there is a massive variety of outdoor pursuits available from simple spectacular hiking to brilliant skiing to cycling the Sonoma vineyards in California (with wine tasting but no fear of drunk-driving!), swimming with dolphins in Florida or riding a Harley to Sturgis in the summertime, or even experiencing zero gravity in Florida in a NASA training 727.
America is not as gun-happy as movies would have us believe, but if you're nervous stay on the well trodden tourist path and you won't see any weaponry. The worst thing about the USA is probably airport arrival, the routine lengthy wait at immigration and the incredibly unpleasant customs officials. Do not joke with them, even if they ask - as they did me on my way to Peru - if I was carrying cocaine...to Peru?!
US climate: the country is so huge that the weather depends on both holiday destination and time of year.
Simply the Southern States are generally good October-March, but unbearably hot and sticky June-September while Northern States such as Washington, New York and Massachusetts will be very cold in winter but pleasantly warm in the summer. And then there's Alaska and Hawaii...
You will be required to complete an online/electronic Travel Authorisation (ESTA) form 72-hours before you fly. However, you will not have to specify precisely when you are on the move and the authorisation you receive will last for two years. This system applies to those using the Visa Waiver Program which allows British passport holders to stay in America for less than 90 days without a visa.
TrekAmerica and Grand American Adventures offer an exciting range of active, small group trips. GAA: Canadian Rockies; Atlantic Maritimes; Canadian Wildlife & Canadian Wilderness Walk.
This huge is a friendly and a fantastic country to indulge in outdoor pursuits, especially winter sports, wildlife walks and summer hiking, but the country is also home to some great city cultures English and French speaking, notably Vancouver, Montreal and Quebec City. Canada also does a great line of festivals from Calgary's Stampede in summer to Montreal's Fete des Neiges in winter.
Best Canada weather: May-September or to ski, December-March
Worst: November-March (wet or cold) unless for winter sports.
South Africa is a country in the mould of Australia, with a fine climate,
hardy amiable locals, plenty of outdoor action - particularly
hiking and surfing - and excellent robust cuisine.
Scenery is stunning, wildlife is rampant and prices are inexpensive. Crime is a concern but is avoidable with common sense and attention to local advice. This is a great self-drive country with stunning views and low-traffic roads.
Best South Africa weather: Spring (September-November) and Autumn (February-May), but also good in winter (June-September).
The land of the Kiwi is spectacularly beautiful, offering magnificent walks and mad outdoor pursuits of the bungee kind, though somewhat lacking in arts and 'culture'. The favourite urban destination for many visitors is Queenstown, a frenetic and inventive activity centre.
Best New Zealand weather: November-April (summer, note
that school holidays are from Dec 20th to the end of January so it's a busy
Worst: the rest, though June-October is good for skiing.
Australia is a safe and fascinating destination even if it is home to the greatest collection of dangerous animals in the world.
Australians are friendly and unassuming, dedicated to a great beach life and wide-open spaces. Sydney is one of the world's prettiest cities while Melbourne works hard at catching up. Cairns is a great activity centre in the right season but Perth is a bit too far for a first-time tourist.
Oz surfing and sailing are excellent though snorkeling and scuba less so as the easy-access sections of the Great Barrier Reef are sadly bleached and lacking is colourful marine life. Trips to the outback, Uluru in particular are an essential part of the Australian experience though we can do without the Atherton Tablelands 'adventure'.
In the south: November-March (summer). e.g. Sydney, Melbourne, Tasmania. Worst: April-Sept (south)
In the north: May-October. e.g. Cairns, Great Barrier Reef, Darwin. Worst: Nov - March (north)
This cluster of little countries with a large history (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) is a treasure trove of historic sights with a new sheen of innovation and modernity, a curious mix of both very old and very new urban cultures, colourful traditional sporting events and great walks/bike rides if you can tolerate the frequently terrible weather and glum faces.
Best UK weather: May-September.
The Wicklow Way walking trail in the Wicklow Mountains National Park. Photo by Joe King
The Republic of Ireland (as opposed to Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom) is famously damp but has a rich culture - much of it embedded in lively and attractive Dublin - many castles, lots of rolling green spaces, dramatic cliffs and provides superb, bracing (a euphemism for wet and windy!) walks as well as a clutch of boisterous festivals.
Best Ireland weather: June-September.