Summertime often evokes images of frosty glasses full of ice-cold lemonade, scrumptious ice cream cones, and lazy days on a sandy beach with a great novel in hand. For most people, the lengthening days bring with them a much-anticipated break from school or a slower work schedule. It is no wonder that this season has become readily associated with vacation time!
The lingering twilight, warm sunshine, and slower pace of life make the summer one of the best times of the year to adventure with those you love. Perhaps you hope to jet off on a romantic getaway to a faraway island, or maybe you simply want to seek respite from the heat by venturing to cool mountains; either way, summer is the perfect time to explore the world. So, whether you are planning to visit the other side of the globe or just the other side of the country, here are some of my top vacation destinations to get you started thinking about your next summertime trip!
1. Family (or Friend) Safari in Botswana
Though lesser-known than destinations like Kenya and South Africa, Botswana delivers a safe and budget-friendly African adventure, making it the perfect vacation destination for the whole family. Geographically defined by the vast Kalahari desert and Okavango Delta, Botswana is known to have some of the healthiest wildlife populations in Africa. The vast number of species that inhabit this beautiful country provides a fantastic opportunity for travelers to spot a number of animals on a safari excursions. Travelers will have the chance to see giraffes, lions, and other big cats on exciting game drives in Savuti and Chobe National Parks, as well as paddle in dugout canoes to view crocodiles, hippos, and elephants in the Moremi Game Reserve. Safaris have an incredible, multi-generational appeal that will not only spark the imagination and awe of children, but will please the adults in the family, as well! After all, who wouldn’t enjoy an epic adventure spotting some of the most iconic African animals in the wild?
From the iconic ancient site of Machu Picchu to the bustling capital city of Lima, Peru is chock-full of beauty, culinary delights, and excitement, which makes it one of the all-time best summer vacation spots. Channel your inner-explorer as you experience the culture and adventure of Lake Titicaca and the breathtaking Rainbow Mountains, or challenge your language skills by “haggling” with local shop owners as you search for gorgeous handmade items in the bustling markets of Cusco or Ollantaytambo. From salt fields to llama blessings and epic hiking trails, Peru has something spectacular for every type of traveler!
3. The Grand Canyon
When I think of ‘summer vacation,’ this spectacular destination is the first one that pops into mind. The Grand Canyon National Park was my family’s favorite vacation spot growing up (which proves that you don’t have to go too far to have a wonderful vacation!).
While the view alone is definitely worth the whole trip, the activities that we did as a family (like hiking, camping, and rafting) are still the source of some of my most cherished memories. The Grand Canyon is one of those places that I’ll continue going back to; in fact, it’s still on my bucket list to hike to Havasupai Falls! And one day I hope to take my own family there for vacation, too, so that we can make even more memories together in this special place.
4. “Backpacking” Europe
Though “backpacking Europe” probably evokes images of college students hopping from hostel to hostel, traveling through Europe can actually be a fantastic vacation for both the solo traveler and the entire family. After all, once you fly to the continent, it is relatively cheap and simple to travel between countries by train or cheap domestic flights (thanks, European Union!). If you plan to travel as a family, you can draw a map of your trip together and choose the specific places that you want to visit-- this is a fun family activity will get everyone involved in the trip-planning process. Maybe each member of the family gets to choose one spot they want to see, and you can map out your route that way!
Or perhaps you would rather travel solo and meet other like-minded travelers in hostels and homestays along the way. Whichever way you choose to travel, “backpacking” Europe (whether you choose to carry an actual backpack or not) will be a trip that you will not soon forget.
5. Speaking of Europe….. Cinque Terre (or Amalfi Coast) Italy
Close your eyes and picture cool turquoise water, creamy gelato, and colorful villages on dramatic cliffs above the Mediterranean sea. Now, what if I told you that this dream was a real destination? Well, welcome to the Italian coast!
From boat cruises and gorgeous vistas to the most delicious food you can imagine (not to mention the wine...), Italy’s coast is the ultimate summer vacation spot. Though the crowd sizes may be larger during this time of the year, the perfect sunny weather and plethora of available spots to dive into the refreshing Mediterranean sea make this region a great summer destination!
A giant island wedged between the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, Greenland is likely not what you think of when you hear “summer vacation spot.” However, did you know that Greenland is one of the only places in the world where you can see polar bears and the Northern Lights in the middle of the summer? If those items are on your bucket list, then this is the place for you! Greenland’s dramatic landscape and incredible natural phenomena, such as the aurora borealis and “midnight sun,” make this place a perfect summer destination for the adventure traveler. So, skip the beach this summer and embark upon a more unconventional summer trip — you will not regret it!
7. Fiji (and Tonga)
When you dream of the perfect beach vacation, chances are that Fiji is one place that comes to mind. Fiji and Tonga, two tropical archipelagos located in the South Pacific, are the ultimate island getaway, full of picturesque, crystal-blue waters and white-sand shores. Yet, venturing to this area in the summertime is also special for another reason: it’s the time of year that you can swim with humpback whales in the wild! The whales migrate to Fiji and Tonga in early July, reaching peak migration in August.
In fact, I am traveling to Tonga this August to swim with these amazing animals, and I could not possibly be more excited! So, if you are seeking a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, join me this summer for the spectacular opportunity to snorkel with these whales in their natural habitat!
8. Banff National Park
If you are seeking a break from the heat this summer, you might want to head to Canada’s first and flagship national park: Banff. Located in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, Banff contains some of the most gorgeous scenery I have ever seen. The park is full of endless activities and hikes, and the staggeringly beautiful mountains jutting out from pristine glacial lakes are a sight to behold. June to August are the best times to visit the park, when the weather is warmer and more inviting for outdoor enthusiasts. So, if you’re looking to beat the heat this summer, take a trip to the beautiful Banff!
9. Galapagos Islands
South America’s beautiful islands, the Galapagos, are well0known as the site upon which Charles Darwin based his renowned work On the Origin of Species. Today, the Galapagos are the only places in the world where you can spot unique species like the flightless cormorant and the swimming iguana (not to mention giant tortoises!). The beautiful landscape and rare wildlife make the Galapagos an amazing vacation destination, especially in the summer, when you are likely to find cooler, drier weather (as the cool/dry season typically runs from June to November). Summer in the Galapagos will be a nice way to escape the stifling heat of your hometown!
10. Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia is one of my all-time favorite places to travel. From Vietnam to Myanmar and everything in between, this region has something for everyone! Low travel costs, as well as cheap food and accommodations, make it the ultimate budget-friendly vacation.
If you are planning to travel this summer, why not visit the gorgeous beaches in Thailand or the Philippines, hike through the fertile rice fields of Vietnam and Cambodia, and taste the most delicious flavors in the bustling cities of Hanoi and Bangkok? I just returned from an amazing trip to Vietnam, and the beauty and hospitality of that country and its people simply cannot be described--you must see it for yourself! But no matter where you go in this region, you will not be disappointed.
Whether you like to travel solo or with your friends or family, do something special with your summer this year! Join us on an epic summer getaway to one of these places, and make memories that will last you a lifetime.
Where are you heading this summer? Let us know in the comments below!
Written By: Kylie Chenn