Ah, summer: a time of Christmas cheer, a time of family, a time of beach visits, and a time of list features from journalists who watch too much cricket. Ahem.
It's also a time of travel, when people like to get away from the confines of home and enjoy the hotter months somewhere else. And after all, surely a destination will be at its best in summer? Surely that's the ultimate time to visit?
Not exactly. There are some places that should really be avoided in summer. Some places you really don't want to go. Places like these ...
Too. Freaking. Hot. A summer stint in Dubai is all about chasing the air-conditioning, dashing from taxi to hotel lobby to hotel room to shopping mall to restaurant and back again. It's far too hot to step outside, confining most visitors to a stay surrounded by four walls. Not my idea of a good time.
Most of India
India is warm in winter – unless you're in the mountains – and then swelteringly, shirt-stickingly hot by the time summer rolls around. Even if the monsoon rains don't get you, you'll be so drenched in sweat you'll feel like you've been caught in a tropical storm. India is enough of a challenge – you don't need the heat wearing you down as well.
There's a mistake people commonly make when visiting Europe for the first time in summer, and that's to assume that the whole continent basks in lovely, mild mid-year conditions. Rome, in about August, is baking hot. Steaming hot. Most locals leave town and head for a beach somewhere, leaving sweaty tourists to wander around in a daze trying to slurp their cups of melted gelati.
Death Valley, USA
This one needs little explanation, given it's the hottest place on Earth. Temperatures in summer regularly give the 50-degree mark a nudge – anyone wanting to visit Death Valley in summer must have masochistic tendencies.
You know all those Romans I was talking about? In August, they're in the French Riviera (or, admittedly, Croatia). In fact it feels like most of Europe is in the French Riviera in August, desperately trying to secure space for a towel on the pebbly beaches, or to squeeze onto a table at one of the expensive beachside bars or cafes. Visit if you like, but don't go in August.
Obviously the threat of civil war has made Libya less than desirable at any time of year recently; however, even when things have calmed down you don't want to be visiting in summer. This is a seriously hot country, one of the hottest in the world, where temperatures have unofficially hit almost 58 degrees Celsius. That's a little too sticky for me.
Such a great place to visit – a country in a state of flux, rapidly entering the modern world but with a rich history to draw on. About the only problem you'll find with Myanmar will be that if you decide to visit in summer, it will be so swelteringly hot that you won't want to do anything but take refuge in an air-conditioned hotel room until it's time to go home.
There's a reason the Andalusians invented the siesta – in the summer it's so freaking hot in the middle of the day that it's not worth doing anything else except lying down and trying to sleep through it. Temperatures in the middle of the year rarely get below the mid-30s; try the shoulder seasons, or even winter, for a more enjoyable stay.
Queensland: beautiful one day, perfect the next. Unless you're all the way up north, of course, where you'll not only have to battle most of Victoria's school-age population, but also several forms of killer jellyfish and the odd cyclone. Might as well just stay at home and watch the cricket.
Which places would you avoid during summer? Post your comments below.
*This will be the last Backpacker column for 2013. Thanks for all of your support throughout the year, and have a merry Christmas everyone. I'll be back on January 8 next year. Safe travels!
Join Ben Groundwater on a cycling tour of Vietnam. Details here.