Certain travel destinations can provide amazing experiences to those who get there at the right time of year.
The “right” time might not always be the “peak” season.
Some places are at their very best when fewer people are there, and some are charming or exciting even when they are completely crowded.
If you are looking to plan your travel calendar for the next twelve months, make sure you choose dates when your destination is at its best.
Here are some suggestions for the next 12 months...
January: Cape Town, South Africa
While January is the middle of wintertime for much of North America, it is the height of summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
South Africa, one of its continent's most accessible travel destinations, is headlined by Cape Town, a city sandwiched between the ocean and scenic mountains.
The Cape area is known for its beautiful and rugged coastlines, its amazing wildlife, its wine-lands, and its cosmopolitan cafe scene.
With a number of beaches for sunning, surfing and even mingling with the resident penguin population, a trip to the seaside should certainly be on the itinerary.
So, too, should a romp through the Cape's scenic hill country.
You'll travel past wineries (maybe stopping in for an occasional taste), charming small towns, and amazing panoramas.
Brazil is another south-of-the-equator spot that is worth checking out when it is wintertime at home.
February brings one of the world's most colorful and famous festivals to the streets of cities all around this country.
Carnival is best appreciated in Rio, where weeks for feasts and street parties lead up to a huge samba parade with massive floats and tens of thousands of dancers.
Sao Paulo, Salvador, and other metropolises all around Brazil have similar events, though not quite as over-the-top as what happens in Rio.
February is also beach season, so tourists can enjoy the sands of the famous Ipanema Beach in Rio, the surf mecca of Florianopolis, or hundreds of smaller, quieter spots found all along the Atlantic Coast.
Texas is not the most glamorous destination in the world, but there is a lot going on here in March.
For those looking for an all-out party, the Spring Break haven of South Padre Island is a sure bet for some loud, no-holds-barred reveling.
Austin, meanwhile, hosts an event that is famous among serious music fans all around the world.
The South by Southwest Music Festival (often written using the acronym SXSW) draws music acts from around the US and as far away as Japan, Russia and Australia.
The focus is on music that is not produced by major record labels.
There are literally thousands of shows taking place in the city, with the music lasting nearly 24 hours each day.
Texas is a great destination in March even if you don't go to SXSW, with the beautiful Hill Country coming alive in the Springtime and cosmopolitan cities like Houston, San Antonio and Dallas offering a full slate of activities.
Paris is arguably the single most famous and popular tourist destination in the world.
This romance-filled city has amazing gardens, even-more-amazing food, wine, and nightlife, and some of the best sightseeing and museums on earth.
By April, the chill of winter has passed and, though temps remain brisk, the parks and gardens and pedestrian-friendly side streets have begun to come alive again after the wintertime.
With summertime tourist crowds not yet descending on the city, however, most attractions remain relatively uncrowded, so it is possible to enjoy a more-authentic, less hectic Paris experience.
May is one of the driest and coolest times of year in this tropical paradise.
Actually, Bali is attractive year-round.
Yes, this can be a very touristy place, with an ever-growing number of resorts and some areas where everything is geared towards tourists and is quite inauthentic.
At the same time, Bali is a place of great natural beauty, welcoming and friendly locals, and a culture that is unlike any other in the world.
Whether you choose to hike to a secluded beach (there are still many undeveloped stretches of sand on the island) or to visit a small local village that produces handcrafts, Bali is filled with opportunities for creating great travel memories.
Of course, you could also simply revel in the beach and nightlife scenes at places like Kuta Beach, the epicenter of the island's tourism scene.
June: Montreal and Toronto
These two very different but equally attractive cities are at their best in the summertime, when the harsh winter has passed and people are intent on enjoying the sunny warm weather while it lasts.
Both these metropolises are cosmopolitan, but in different ways.
Montreal has a francophone flair, with amazing restaurants, diverse neighborhoods, an energetic and exciting nightlife scene, and a kind of classic Old World vibe that is not often found in North America.
Toronto is the economic heart of Canada and is a cultural melting pot with an almost limitless amount of excitement and attractions.
Concerts, festivals, and other events are almost a daily occurrence during the Toronto summer.
Despite all these big-city attractions, both of these Canadian cities remain more laid back and user-friendly than their peers south-of-the-border.
July: San Diego
Most people probably think its best to avoid warm-weather destinations during the summertime, because they are simply too hot.
But San Diego, with its always dry, always pleasant climate, is an exception.
This charming Southern California city has a lot going on in July.
The world-famous Comicon takes place in the middle of the month, drawing sci-fi and comic book fans from around the country.
The city's epic beach and surfing scenes are in full swing as well, while the nightlife...well, it never stops being buzz-worthy.
If you are looking for a complete urban vacation experience during the summertime, San Diego is, almost without a doubt, your best option in the US.
The Mediterranean tourism season is in full swing in August.
Even with crowded resorts and attractions, Malta is a charming destination that offers a lot more than its relatively small size would suggest.
A thousand years of history is on display in the small towns of this unique island nation, while the blue and warm waters welcome sailors, wind surfers, divers and those who just want to soak in the Mediterranean.
Great resorts can be booked all over Malta.
And if you want to indulge in some partying, then this is certainly the best time of year to come...the nightlife in resort areas is in full swing with the party sometimes lasting until after sunrise.
By September, the temperatures have dropped from their summertime highs and the nights are getting cooler in New England.
The weather is still pleasant though.
In rural states like Vermont, early autumn is a great time to travel.
Pick-your-own apple orchards are open to the public, the crowds of summertime vacationers from metropolises to the south have gone home, and the leaves have begun to change into their brilliant fall colors (colors are at their best if you can come here later in the month).
Because of features like this, Vermont is the quintessential autumn destination.
Hawaii is an attractive destination year-round.
The amazing natural scenery, idyllic beaches, and laid-back vibe make the 50th State a dream destination for many, many people.
If you head here during peak travel seasons – in the middle of summer or the middle of winter – it can seem like those “many, many people” decided to travel here at the exact same time.
In the fall, however, fewer tourists come to the islands, so you can more easily get into that “aloha” state-of-mind and truly have a relaxing and memorable tropical getaway.
November is the start of the busy summer tourist season Down Under.
Head here early enough in the month, and you may be able to enjoy sunny summer weather and all those warm weather attractions without having to deal with the big crowds.
The dining, culture and nightlife scenes in Sydney and Melbourne are always in full swing, and both are a worthy part of any Australian itinerary.
Cairns, gateway to the Great Barrier Reef is also an attractive base for a November Australian adventure.
Whether you choose the user-friendly and exciting metropolises or the paradise-like landscapes of the Gold Coast, Australia is sure to please excitement-seekers in November.
December: New York
No, December is not the warmest time of year in the Big Apple.
But if you want to really experience this world-famous city, the holiday season is the best time to do it.
All those legendary sights will be present during December: the skating rink and tree at Rockefeller Plaza, the lights and retail madness at Macy's and along 5thAvenue, the festival atmosphere of Broadway, and of course, the Times Square party on New Year's Eve.
We'll just say this: New York City can be an in-your-face place, but during December, it is really possible to experience that “big city buzz” and to understand why so many people call this the greatest metropolis on earth.
Do you have any destination suggestions for us? Let us know in the comments section below.