Basics of Trip Research

Incurable Wanderlust Podcast - Season 1, Episode 2

Have you wanted to plan your own trips or are you thinking you might be able to plan them better? Wondering where you should travel? This podcast is for you!

In this episode we go over the three questions (well technically 4) that you need to answer in order to plan your trip properly. I also go over the meaning of high season, low season, and shoulder season as well as what time is best to visit countries around the world. With those answered then we move on to discovering how long you should make your vacation if you are flying somewhere, some European cities that are not in Europe, pick your brain as to what certain sentences mean that could help you save money or add value to your trip, and more! There is a lot of information covered in 20 minutes so make sure to have a pen & paper to take notes as well as save this episode so you can reference it easier when you need it.

Safe Travels!


Make sure to visit for more information to help with your trip planning as well as where to find all our podcast episodes. Also, make sure to follow and like our Social Media accounts which is @female_abroad on all major platforms (YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, etc).


Hey everyone, this is Emily from The Female Abroad and you are listening to the Incurable Wanderlust podcast which offers tips, tricks and trips to help make you a more confident and knowledgeable traveler. Here we provide and discuss firsthand knowledge from our trips to make sure your trip planning is easier. Be sure to follow so you can find this podcast when you really need it and visit for podcasts transcripts, our social media links, and more information that can help you with all your travel planning.

Welcome back! This week's topic is the basics of starting to research a trip. If you have not listened to last week's episode, the topic was traveler versus tourist and I invite you to take a listen after this episode.

When it comes to starting trip research, there are three questions you should answer:

  1. when can I travel?
  2. how long can I travel for? and
  3. who will be traveling with me?

Some people have flexibility with number one, so number two and three may be easier to answer out of the three. The biggest deciding factor may be who you're traveling with. If you're traveling with children, for example, you have to work around their school schedule or if you're traveling with people who work then you have to work around the time they can take off. Just to make this next part a little easier, let's just say you can travel at any time.

Now with this anytime mind frame.

Let's go over the best seasons to book travel based on the destination. As a general rule of thumb:

Summer in the Northern Hemisphere is June to August.

Summer in the southern hemisphere is November to February.

Seasons are also very important. The three major seasons are high season, shoulder season and low season. Now I bet you thought I was gonna say actual seasons but now when it comes to travel, those three are very important.

High season is the popular season when everybody wants to travel. The weather is usually at its best, prices are high, and kids are out of school. So this is normally summer months, a couple months in the winter, and a little bit of the spring.

Low season is when people usually do not travel because the weather is not as good or the kids are in school. Prices however are at the lowest and there might be less touristy things to do depending on where you go but there usually will be a lot of availability when it comes to accommodation unless there's an event going on like the Winter Olympics.

Shoulder season is the time in between these two time periods. It could be the weather's still good so people are traveling without their kids but prices will be higher than low season however not as high as high season. There still may be limited attractions but things like hotels and restaurants are generally all open.

If you are a money conscious traveler or someone who wants to score a deal then I would advise traveling during shoulder or low season.

Now when it comes to breaking out high, low, shoulder season for each country, it can really vary. I will go over all the major areas of the world and try to break it out for just generally good times to go but when you decide on the actual country, you're going to want to do some research to look at things like holidays (such as Christmas and New Year's), the chance of natural disasters (like hurricanes monsoons or tsunamis), and activities because if you're going during the low or shoulder season, some countries close up a lot of restaurants. Certain ones stop running certain tours for a variety of reasons, from not enough patrons to the rivers just not being deep enough to run boats.

So let's start North America and go counterclockwise around the globe.

North America: October is the best time, except for:

Las Vegas the summer gets extremely hot.

Hawaii, if you want to go surfing and that's November to January.

As a general rule of thumb everything east of the Rockies will be pounded with snow from about October to April and the West Coast is pretty mild year round and does not really see a lot of snow in the winter either. So there's not necessarily a cheap time to visit either California, Washington, Portland, or BC.

The Caribbean: December to April is the best time to visit. June to November is hurricane season so there will be cheaper prices except for when the kids are out of school.

South America: December to May great time to head to the Galapagos Colombia, Venezuela Ecuador Bolivia, Peru.

July to October: Brazil, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana

November to March: Chile, Argentina Uruguay and the Falklands.

Antarctica is great from December to February because it's frozen over.

Africa in general May to September is high season as those are the coldest and driest months. October to April is low season due to it being the hottest, wettest months. May to October is popular for eastern South Africa due to the abundance of wildlife. November December is still a great time to go, however, it's the rainy season but it'll bring out even more different types of wildlife. Spring and Fall is typically the most popular time for Northern Africa as the temperatures are cooler but they're not freezing.

The Middle East, so Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Yemen, Oman, Iran, Iraq Lebanon, Israel, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, the desert part of Turkey, they're all very similar to Northern Africa with Spring and Fall being the best time to go.

Oceania: September to March is great for New Zealand. March April, September October, November are great for Australia, June to September is best for Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands, America Samoa, Solomon Islands, French Polynesia, Tonga; pretty much any other island in the Pacific.

Asia: So India and Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh: December to February is dry but cold so if you're going to explore the lower levels of the country, it's a great time to go. March, April, October, November is when hiking the Himalayas and various other mountains in Northern India and Pakistan is done.

Now the Stan's: Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan - June to September if you're headed to the mountains is a great time to go. April, May, September, October - usually the weather is a little bit more temperate.

Southeast Asia so Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos. and Singapore. November to February is relatively dry and cool. June to September is usually comfortable except for the islands between Vietnam and Australia. July to October is monsoon season.

China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, the Koreas, and Mongolia: September's monsoon season. October to March is usually the best time to visit Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, January to September there's usually warmer temperatures.

Russia: June to August is very warm and comfortable but the kids are out of school. March to May and September to October, warm days, freezing nights in the negative temperatures.

Europe and Greenland: April to June is the shoulder season, comfortable weather chance of rain. May to September is the best time to visit the Alps. And October to March is the best time to catch the Northern Lights in the more northern countries

Now with this information in mind, you can start to decide what area of the world you want to try to aim for and the season you would be most interested in going in. However, don't get too stuck on the location because the second question can really create a huge impact in where you go as well.

So question number two was "how long can I travel?"

This is the time to start looking at flights.

Depending on where you are flying from, there is of course going to be a time change and if you're doing a trip, for example, from North America to Hong Kong or even Australia, you'll lose a day as soon as you cross the international dateline. What I mean by this is it's already tomorrow in Australia so if you have four days, just getting on the plane and flying over can eat up two.

You do not need to cross the international dateline for a flight to cut into your vacation.

For example, if you want to fly from Toronto to England, the time change is five hours and the flight is seven hours long. So if you were to fly directly, let's say leaving Toronto at noon, you would not get into London until midnight.

Now of course these are perfect world scenarios so they don't take into consideration any layovers, delays, connections, nor the time it will take you to recover from jetlag. As you can see, if you're headed somewhere for less than five days, you will want to stick to someplace closer to home, and preferably with no more than a three hour time difference.

If you're not sure about changes or flights, then checkout search engines like Expedia or Google Flights as they can be your friend. If you're close to a major airport then trying to find flights will be easier as you will not need to try to fly or drive to the airport before you depart.

Using the search engines will give you an idea of who was flying from where, what days you can fly, what connections you have to make, if any, as well as how long it will take and when you'll arrive. Keep an eye out for the small +1 or+2 which means you should add one or two days onto your departure day. So if you want to fly out September 15 at noon and it says you are arriving at 10am +2, that means that you would arrive at 10am on September 17.

Let's use a real world example now.

So you live in Kamloops and you'll have to drive to Kelowna to catch a flight to Vancouver. These flights are not daily or maybe there's only one per day so you have to stay in a hotel overnight to make sure that you get on the flight the next day. This could be one of your vacation days gone.

Now you're on the flight from Kelowna to Vancouver but you're going to Europe, so you will have to catch a flight from Vancouver to Pearson's Toronto. The flight from Kelowna to Vancouver is about 45 minutes plus two hours for security and check in. The flight from Vancouver to Toronto is about five hours then once you are in Toronto, depending on where you're going to, you may have to fly from Toronto to Frankfurt, Germany, which is an eight hour flight plus a time change. Then you have to go through customs catch your flight from Frankfurt to your final destination which could be another few hours. None of the scenario includes you waiting around to the airport, flight delays, or even time changes. So you can see how difficult it could be to fly a great distance internationally especially if you're not from a hub city or you have less than five days.

As a rule of thumb the first and last day of your vacation will be travel days and if you're headed somewhere with the time change greater than three hours then the second day will be slow due to jetlag. Now count the days that you have leftover, is it worth going overseas?

If you're on the east coast of North America, then instead of heading to Europe you could always pop down to the Caribbean or head to a spot in Canada, USA or Mexico. If you really want to European feel but don't have time to head over to Europe, you can always check out the Caribbean. For example. St Maarten is a French territory, San Maarten is Dutch, and the Britain has a bunch of its own islands like St. Lucia, Barbados, and the British Virgin Islands to name a few.

If those do not quell your European urges, then you could always look to heading to Newfoundland, Quebec, or any of the numerous towns in the USA that are based on European towns like Leavenworth, Washington, which is like a German town or sg, California, which is Dutch architecture and windmills. Another option could be the island of St. Pierre, and Miquelon which are found just off the coast of Newfoundland and are actually a French territory.

I know I just provided you with a ton of new options that probably didn't even cross your mind and made you even more confused but that is one of the great things about the internet; you can just start Googling and either you find what you're looking for or you fall down a rabbit hole

The size, the length, the time another factor that can affect when you travel is what you want to do. Looking at climbing Mount Everest? Did you know that you can only do it in May and that's if you're lucky. You could travel to Nepal in May for a climb and none of the days you are in town are suitable for climbing so you have to try again next year.

Wanting to go to Greenland for self drive but can only spare time in January? Did you know that most things are frozen. It could also be very dangerous to drive especially with temperatures that regularly get below negative 25 degrees Celsius or negative 13 degrees Fahrenheit.

When it comes to travel, I find that I usually go in May or September. The reason for this is because it's quieter as the kids are in school, there's no major holidays., the weather is usually perfect for whatever I get up to whether it be the Caribbean or Europe for example. I also like to go for 10 to 14 days as I find that one week is too short and three weeks is too long. However, I am someone that tries to see an entire country in a trip so if I have three weeks, it will be a full itinerary. The downside of traveling during these times is I have come across deserted towns as they're only seasonal for tourists, museums and restaurants that are closed as there's never enough people to keep them open during the shoulder low season. And I've also run into my fair share of hurricanes.

So let's recap as there has been a ton of information thrown at you.

You should have the answer to three questions before traveling. They are:

One, when can I travel?

Two how long can I travel for?

Three who will be traveling with me?

We went over some of the best and worst times to travel across the world. We also went over examples of how long you have to go on a trip and what can affect where you go. And I just threw a fourth question at you that can also affect your trip; what do you want to do?

This is a bunch of information so I highly suggest saving this podcast so you can reference it again when you need to.

This is also a really good time to pause. Go get a drink, stretch your legs if you're sitting down and then come back. If you don't need to pause then let's carry on. Now let's think outside of those four questions.

When it comes to pricing, I hear the next three statements thrown out quite regularly.

I want the best price.

I want the lowest price.

I want to deal.

These are actually pretty generic terms and can mean different things to different people so let's break it down using a hotel as an example.

If you say I want the best price, what does this mean to you? Do you want the lowest available or do you want the one with breakfast included for $5 more? What does best mean to you?

If you say I want the lowest price? Well that's easy but do you want the lowest price for the room or he suite? With breakfast or the local rate?

If you say I want to deal so the basic room at a lower price? breakfast included for free? a free upgrade?

There are a lot of times where we want quality, but we're really buying quantity.

Think of it this way. You go on a third party booking site (Expedia,, excetera; we'll just call them third parties) and compare it to a hotel's website. The third party may be cheaper for the same room but why is this? The third party site buys in bulk and sells it to a bunch of people (i.e. quantity) this higher quantity of bookings allows them to get a better price for that timeframe but if you booked directly with the hotel, the price is usually the same or not much more. But you'll have flexibility with your reservation which provides you quality.

Why would I need flexibility? I'm sure you're asking yourself. If you book directly with a hotel, they're more interested in your business. You booked with them and that means they don't have to pay the third party because they brought you to them. Right there, that's a win for the hotel since they don't have to pay a supplier for your business, they're likely to want to keep you happy.

For example, celebrating something special? Let the hotel know. They're more likely to give you an upgrade or a welcome amenity or give you a better room if these things are available. If you do that, with one of the big booking sites, the hotel may only do something special if they're really low in occupancy. They're not going to bend over backwards because they know you only booked with them because they were the cheapest option so you're most likely not going to book with them again.

Another example, stuck with a reservation that's within cancellation but you need to change it or cancel? If you booked with a hotel just call them up and explain the situation. Most are happy to change the date because you're not canceling, you're amending it. If you did need to cancel the reservation you could always amend it and then call back later to cancel because it's outside of the penalty. None of these you would be able to do with a third party unfortunately.

There are also quite a few times where I'll Google things like cheapest places to fly in November. This is how I discovered Panama the country (not the American city) or I'll be listening to music and just think I wonder what is going there is going to be like. And that is how I discovered it was cheaper for me to fly into Havana for a weekend, then to Florida instead of flying directly into Florida.

If you're not using a travel agent or you're not ready for that step yet then Google can be a really good resource to find sites like which can help you narrow down what it is you want to book.

Before you start to get into the nitty gritty of booking the trip. You want to look at some entry and exit requirements for the country.

Do you need a passport? Do you have one? Is it valid? Is there at least six months left on it after you depart from your trip? Do you have time to get a passport?

Do you need a visa? How can you apply for it? What information or photos you need? How much is it?

Do you need to have specific inoculations or COVID vaccine? Do you have time to get them?

Is their insurance requirements? What needs to be covered? How much is the policy going to be?

Do you have to have a ticket showing you're leaving the country?

Do you need to have a certain amount of money in your bank account to enter?

Do you need to have local currency to pay an exit or entry fee? How much?

Is it a country where you have to travel with an organized tour or can you go on your own?

Once you have those questions answered, then you can start looking at your trip in more detail. For example: What city or cities do you want to see? Do you need a car rental? What accommodation do you want to stay in? What excursions or experiences do you want to do while there? What is the country or area known for?

Then from there, you can start to put together an outline of your trip. Just keep in mind that until you book something prices and availability can change so if you find a deal on a hotel or there's a seat sale on the flight and you know your dates are firm and set in stone, book them!

Once you book anything I would highly recommend getting travel insurance as some cancellation policies will only allow you to cancel things that are booked either at the same time as the insurance or within 24 hours of purchasing. So that means if you spent $800 on a flight and you went to go buy cancellation insurance the next day. If you needed to actually use that insurance, the insurance provider could look at the policy and say you bought the insurance just outside of the time cut off so therefore they will not reimburse you for the cost of the flights. Now before you purchase any insurance, or any trip tickets, if you are going to get insurance you should always read the fine print of the policy to make sure that you qualify and will be covered. If you don't then you're just wasting your money.

I'm gonna leave this topic here because a topic like researching a trip has a ton of more finer details but that's more for a course or a YouTube video than a podcast as it's a lot of information to get into just by voice. That being said next week, I'm going to touch on two topics that were requested by listeners which flow quite well into this episode.

So next week, we'll go over how to figure out if a city has more than one airport and which airport you should fly into. If there's any time or maybe I'll do it as a separate episode, I haven't quite decided yet, but the second topic is eating at a local restaurant; How do you know you're actually eating where the locals eat while you're traveling? Make sure to tune in next week to listen to those too juicy topics and learn more safe travels!

Thank you for listening and make sure to follow or subscribe so you never miss an episode and can find us when you need to plan your next trip. If you can recommend the incurable wonder loss to those that you travel with. And also if you have a moment, leave us a rating and review. In the review if there are topics or destinations that you'd like to learn more about, make sure to include it in your comment. Also, do not forget to visit for more helpful tips, tricks and trips, as well as podcast transcripts.

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Thanks again for listening and until next week. Safe travels!