English Speaking Countries – Mostly North Hemisphere

Drakensberg mountain trail, South Africa, English Speaking Countries

British Museum exterior in London, England. English Speaking Countries.

Why vacation in English Speaking Countries?

Native English language destinations are obviously 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. Meanwhile those who enjoy riskier adrenalin activities know there is quality medical backup not far away!

Downsides

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.

Getting Around

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.

Monument Valley, USA, English Speaking Countries

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.

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 (try the Sonoma vineyards in California with wine tasting but no fear of drunk-driving! ).  Swimming with dolphins in Florida is a hoot or riding a Harley to/around 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. . .

Travelling to the USA: ESTA

Travellers to the US are required to complete an online/electronic Travel Authorisation (ESTA) form  before they fly. However, they do not have to specify precisely when they are on the move and authorisation lasts for two years. This system applies to those using the Visa Waiver Program which allows – for example – British passport holders  to stay in America for less than 90 days without a visa.

Peyto Lake, Banff National Park, Canada, English Speaking Countries

Peyto Lake, Banff National Park,  Alberta, Canada. Photo Tobias Alt

This is a massive and welcoming country, especially of interest to those who wish 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.

Corfe Castle village, Dorset, England, UK, English Speaking Countries

Why vacation in the UK?

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.
Worst: January-February.

a beautiful, lonely track, Wicklow Way, Ireland, English Speaking Countries

The Wicklow Way walking trail in the Wicklow Mountains National Park. Photo by Joe King

Why holiday in Ireland?

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.
Worst: January-March.

a beautiful, lonely track, Wicklow Way, Ireland, English Speaking Countries

Riding an ostrich at speed, Oudtshoorn, South Africa.

Why holiday in South Africa?

South Africa enjoys a superb climate, a magnificent collection of mountains and beaches, rampant wildlife, an efficient infrastructure, an interesting history (to say the least), lively friendly locals, delicious cuisine – particularly seafood and fruits – and fantastic high quality but affordable wines in BIG glasses!

South Africa Weather
Best seasons: Autumn (February-April) and Spring (August-October), but winter (May-July) though chilly at night usually provides blue skies, T-shirt days and good game-viewing due to the dry season short grass effect.
Cape Town has a 40% chance of rain during winter, but if you’re lucky it’s chilly but a good time to be there. Winter is not a good time to swim.

Worst: arguably midsummer except for the Cape when it’s the best season (mid-December, January) due to extreme heat, rains, humidity and massively crowded holiday places – with both foreigners and locals. On the positive side, this is the beach and party season, but book accommodation ahead!

Cape Town summer (November-January) temperatures average 16C-26C (61F-79F) and winter (May-July) 7C-18C (45F-64F).

a beautiful, lonely track, Wicklow Way, Ireland, English Speaking Countries

A busy beach at Surfer’s Paradise, Gold Coast, Australia.

Why holiday in Australia?

This small continent but massive country is diverse, laid back, wild and as big as Europe, providing an eclectic hoard of experiences and endless space for isolation seekers. Spectacular deserts, rainforests, waterfalls, canyons and a huge array of strange flora and fauna are just some of the reasons to go this distance.

White sand beaches stretching to infinity provide some of the best snorkelling, surfing, diving and lounging on the planet. Cities are home to cutting edge arts, music and cafe cultures, and if you get your timing right the sun will shine on your Australia holidays.

Amazing contrasts lie in the anonymity of the Outback and Red Centre, underpinned by an ancient and fascinating Aboriginal past.
Australians are very straight talking people, tricky at first for repressed, po-faced Brits, but actually it’s a plus point. Get used to it! If you want to stay longer, work options for foreigners are ample and varied.