Choosing a destination for travel is part of the adventure! Whether you throw a dart at a world map, or savour the experience of researching, investigating, discussing, and finally selecting a place, deciding where to go is an essential part of any trip.
Of course, a lot of factors will influence your decision, such as how much time you have, budget, and who you’re travelling with. But if you’re looking at a trip of two days to two weeks in length, to just one or two places, these tips should help you choose the right travel destination for you.
1. Go where you’ve always wanted to go
If you don’t travel often, this trip could be your big chance to go somewhere you’ve been dreaming about for years. If you’ve always wanted to eat croissants on a Paris street, or see the Angkor Wat temples for yourself, do it!
Make a list of “dream destinations” and think of a couple of things you’d like to do in each place. Then rank them according to how much you’d like to go, and do some basic research about flight and accommodation prices. If the number-one place on your list seems a little out of reach, perhaps one of the others will work out.
2. Visit someone
Most of our early trips were to see someone, usually a friend or family member. This gave our journeys a purpose, and allowed us to see a new location while not having to do a lot of travel planning.
Do you have family in an interesting locale, or perhaps a friend of yours moved away from your hometown? Maybe your office has a branch in a different town and you get on well with a workmate there. Or perhaps you’ve got an online friend you’d like to meet in person? Craig and I have met several of my language-learning friends after years of chatting and Skyping, and it’s always been awesome. Oliva showed us her favourite tapas bars in Spain, we had a beer in a sun-soaked German courtyard with Andreas, and Omar took us to Tequila for far too much drinking in Mexico.
Depending on who you’re travelling to see, you may be able to stay with them, which removes the hassle of finding accommodation. We often stay with family, but (obviously?) didn’t plan to stay with any of my internet friends! Don’t think of it as a free stay though — make sure to take a gift and offer to make dinner or take your host out for a meal.
We’ve also travelled to meet people halfway. Once, Linda’s brother wanted to visit us in Panama, but didn’t have time to travel to the small town we were living in. So we all travelled to Panama City and had a great few days together.
3. Go to an event
Is there a festival you’d like to attend? A sporting event you’d like to be at? A race you’d like to participate in? Travelling for an event is a great way to choose your destination. Whether you want to see a match or two of the Rugby World Cup, or run a marathon, or just throw some tomatoes at people, the fixed dates of an event can actually help with travel planning.
Be aware that accommodation and transport options are likely to be oversubscribed as other people will also be in town for the same event that’s attracted you, so book as far in advance as possible.
4. Find a deal
If you’re short on time, a package trip could be a good option. Linda’s brother and his wife often use sites like BA Holidays to find weekend deals, which they book as far in advance as possible. They’ve been to some interesting places, pretty much because those destinations were available when they were free to travel.
Secret Flying lists special deals and errors, and your favourite airline or travel agent might have packages that suit you. Sign up for the mailing list and be prepared to book if you see something you like.
Alternatively, sites like Skyscanner have an explore feature, which allows you to search for flights from your nearest airport to “everywhere”. Plug in your dates and see what options come up!
5. Follow your passion
Our first point was to head somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, but if there’s nowhere that really catches your attention, never fear! Instead, think about what you love and then consider where you can do that. Love beer? Germany might be a good choice. Obsessed with Lord of the Rings? Go to New Zealand. Is tango dancing your thing? Argentina is the place for you.
We’ve chosen destinations for all these reasons and more. While some reasons were perhaps more valid than others (doing a master’s versus “we’ve never been there!”), we’ve rarely regretted a choice. So relax, pick up that dart, and start planning your next adventure.
[box] This episode of the Indie Travel Podcast is sponsored by Visit Milwaukee.
Vogue Magazine says Milwaukee, Wisconsin is “the Midwest’s Coolest and Most Underrated City.” Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee is the original Brew City, the home-base of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and so much more. It’s home to Summerfest, the world’s largest music festival, and the city that roots for Bucks basketball and Brewers baseball. If you’re an urban kayaker, a cheese fiend, an art lover, a beer geek – it’s time to get to know Milwaukee. It’s totally random and totally wonderful.
Get to know Milwaukee at visitmilwaukee.org.[/box]