We hope you all have a fantastic 2019 involving as much travel as possible.
However, a number of climatic, political and religious developments could disrupt your plans in the coming month.
For instance, keep an eye out for possible weather extremes related to El Niño.
Bangladesh is also set to host one of the largest gatherings of humans in the world in January. Combining this event with current political tensions will add a concerning element of volatility to the proceedings.
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Watching January for weather warnings
Meteorologists are concerned that El Niño could make an appearance in the coming weeks. If it does, expect disrupted weather patterns around the world in the coming year. This could bring the risk of flooding and landslides in Latin America, wildfires in Southeast Asia and Australasia and disrupted ski seasons in North America and Europe. We wrote about the implications in a recent report.
Ski-season and southern summers
Otherwise in January, expect more cold, wintry weather across the northern hemisphere. In contrast, expect summer conditions in many countries in the southern hemisphere such as Australia and South Africa.
Other weather changes affecting travel
The following countries and territories also mark notable weather changes this month:
Antarctica: the average temperatures in the world’s coldest continent are usually at their highest this month (just below freezing in case you were wondering). This makes it a good time to visit, although the amount of planning required for a trip means that you’re probably too late for a last-minute weekend break. It would probably be best if you started planning for a trip this time next year.
Falklands: the temperatures are usually slightly warmer than normal in the Falkland Islands from now until February. However, if you feel tempted to go out for a ‘summer stroll’, bear in mind that some parts of the territory still harbour unexploded ordnance from the war. Most of the affected areas are well-marked but ask a local resident if you’re in any doubt.
Guyana: the November-January rainy season comes to an end this month. This can make it a good time of year to visit and enjoy the country’s rich biodiversity.
Panama: the rainy season that began in May ends this month (if it has not already ended).
Rwanda: the rainy season that began in November ends this month.
Seychelles: the rainy season that began in November ends this month. It’s worth visiting the country even during the rainy season but the weather is likely to be much better from now on.
Where to visit
Given current weather trends, popular travel destinations for sunshine at this time of year include Australia, Brazil, the Canary Islands, Cape Verde, the Caribbean, Central America, east Africa (particularly Kenya and Tanzania), Florida, Hawaii, New Zealand, the Arabian Peninsula (particularly the UAE and Oman), South Africa as well as south and southeast Asia (everywhere from India to Vietnam – we’ve recently had some excellent recommendations on Myanmar and Thailand).
Alternatively, for winter-themed holidays the Alps and ski slopes of Japan, Lebanon, Scandinavia and North America are all popular in January. Additionally, some cities also lay out a series of cultural events at this time of year such as Amsterdam, Bruges, Harbin (illustrated above with its annual ice festival), Montreal and San Sebastian. It can be good time of year to visit the Nordic countries in search of the Northern Lights as well.
Coptic Christmas and terrorist violence
Egypt‘s Coptic Christian community marks Christmas Eve on the 6th January. As the event takes place, radical Islamist terrorists may try to attack churches and other religious gatherings. They have certainly done so in the past. A recent bus bombing in Cairo also serves as a reminder that tourists are at risk of being targeted as well. The Egyptian security forces continue to engage in counter-insurgency operations aimed at preventing such events but numerous terrorists continue to evade these efforts.
Electoral tensions and travel safety
While no major elections are currently scheduled for January, several countries are still reeling from polls held in December. For example, the DRC, Bangladesh and Togo have all experienced violent unrest over controversial polls in recent weeks. The results are being disputed in all three countries so the fallout is consequently expected to continue into the new year. If you’re visiting any affected countries (particularly their capital cities) be prepared for disruptive demonstrations, some of which will definitely have the potential for turning violent.
Millions to visit Bangladesh
Every year in January several million people gather on the River Turag in Bangladesh for the three-day Biswa Ijtema. This religious event puts extra pressure on local infrastructure and can often lead to travel disruption and accommodation shortages. The arrival of such large numbers of people also brings general crowd-management risks such as stampedes. Previous events have even been marred by deadly cold snaps. Those attending to take care and plan accordingly, select good-quality accommodation and be prepared for delays.
Tensions and violence could affect travel
As mentioned earlier, Bangladesh is already going through a period of political tension. Supporters of the Bangladeshi National Party (the BNP) are highly critical of the latest election on the 30th December. They are likely to continue engaging in violent unrest over the coming weeks. While the Biswa Ijtema is supposed to be an apolitical event it could nonetheless serve as a flashpoint for pro-BNP supporters and could turn violent as a result.
The following is a chronological roundup of various dates, events, festivals, anniversaries and public holidays to be expected over the course of the month:
Worldwide: New Year’s Day
Slovakia: Republic Day
Taiwan: Republic Day
Worldwide: New Year’s Day holiday continues in many countries
Burkina Faso: Revolution Day
Myanmar: Independence Day
Christianity: Orthodox/Coptic Christmas Eve/Epiphany/Three Kings Day
Cambodia: Victory over Genocide Day
Christianity: Orthodox/Coptic Christmas
Japan: Coming of Age Day
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Republic Day
Panama: Martyr’s Day
Benin: Traditional Religions Day
Morocco: Proclamation of Independence Day
Algeria: Berber New Year
Tanzania: Zanzibar Revolutionary Day
Turkmenistan: Memorial Day
Mali: Armed Forces’ Day
Dominican Republic: Feast of our Lady Altagracia
United States: Martin Luther King Jr Day
Romania: Unification Day
India: Republic Day
Monaco: Saint Devote’s Day
Otherwise, we hope you have safe travels in 2019.
Happy New Year from Starling Safety!