So you have your travel inspiration and are excited to plan your travel – now you have to decide where you should go? As simple as that may sound, if you want to get the best value for your money and make sure that your trip will not come with unexpected but avoidable pitfalls, here are some tips on things you should research and consider when choosing your destination:
If your dream is go visit and walk on an active volcano, obviously this is not possible everywhere. What you want to do, especially if is is rather something extraordinary, dictates where you can travel to do that activity.
Think about and decide what the overall theme of your travel is supposed to be: Are you going on a family vacation, are you looking for a couple’s retreat, do you want to relax on the world’s nicest beaches, or are you yearning an adventure? Or maybe you even yearn to help and make a difference while you travel. In that case, take a look at this article: 7 Opportunities to make a Difference in this World while travelling
If you are planning on traveling with other people, just as your spouse and your children, take them into consideration as well.
Once you have a list of potential destinations, take your time and research whether there are any festivals, religious ceremonies, or holidays that may cross your plans. During those times, it is common that public transportation is limited or even shut down, attractions are closed, and shops are not open. So if these are things that you will be relying on, it is a good idea to pre-plan accordingly.
On our way to Tanzania, my husband and I had a 13 hour layover in Istanbul, Turkey. We had planned to explore and see Istanbul, on our own. After it took us almost an hour to figure out how the public transportation works in Turkey, since it is all automated with different kinds of machines standing around in front of the entry where you are supposed to swipe something, we were finally on our way into the Old City and after one transfer, we got off at the Sultanahmet station.
We wanted to see the Hagia Sophia and a few other things, but one things we definitely wanted to do was to go into the Blue Mosque. I had looked up the prayer times previously and I thought we had everything planned out perfectly to be able to get in. Long story short, once we got there (it was around 8am, 30 degrees outside and we were definitely not dressed right for that kind of weather), we found out that Friday was what they consider the Holy Day and thus the prayer time had been extended all the way to 1pm and the Mosque would be closed to non-worshipers until then. Not only were we not dresses weather appropriate and freezing, we ended up not being able to go inside the one thing we really wanted to see – live and learn 😉 But that is why it’s so important to do your research thoroughly before you pick a destination for a specific time.
This can be a big factor and deal breaker. Let’s say you decide you want to take your whole family on a beach getaway with an option to explore a little and get to know a new part of the world (considering you’ve never been to Southeast Asia). And because it fits into your budget, you decide to go to Davao City in the Philippines in June for a week, only to spend the entire week in your hotel because it rains. In June, it rains an average of 21 days in that city accumulating an average of 8 inches of rain – turns out you should have rather picked another beach destination.
Before you stick to a destination choice, check out the weather to assure your travel plans won’t be ruined due to weather. My personal favorite is WorldWeatherOnline.com where you can simply enter a city and country and access the annual average temperatures and precipitation for each month.
If you are travelling on a budget like most of us, you should also take costs into consideration when choosing your next trip destination. $1,000 will get you a completely different accommodation in Southeast Asia versus Hawaii and ultimately for $1,000 you can get a nicer accommodation and a longer stay in Southeast Asia than in Hawaii. The choice depends on what your priorities are and on all the other factors that I mentioned earlier in this post.
BudgetYourTrip.com has a breakdown of average costs in thousands of destinations compiled from real travelers’ data and expenses. This is a great resource to get a general idea of the costs you can expect in a certain country or city.
For example, the average daily cost per person in Sydney, Australia in the mid-range traveling style is $111.15, whereas the average reported cost of travel in Pokhara, Nepal is only $13.15.
Regardless whether these figures are 100% accurate, you can see a very big difference and can use this site as a starting reference point for your cost research.
Tip: If you have a reward credit card or are part of a travel reward program, check what your current points/rewards level is – you never know, you may surprisingly find that you have collected enough points or miles to redeem for a free flight or hotel stay.
I personally love learning new languages and being immersed in a new country, a new culture, where I do not understand much of what is being sad. However, I have met many people through the years who are very bothered by that. If you are going to an all-inclusive resort and you do not plan to leave the entire time you’re there, this will probably not be a factor in your decision, as employees at such resorts speak English most of the time. However, if you want to go on a multi-city adventure tour, where you will have to rely on being able to read the food menu, understanding the staff at your hostels, etc., but you are one of those people that would not feel comfortable in this situation, you would be better off exploring Canada, New Zealand, or other English-speaking countries, rather than choosing Africa for your trip.
If you have family or friends in another country, why not consider traveling there and staying with them? This will save you a lot of money on accommodation that you can then spend on some great food or an unforgettable excursion. Furthermore, they may be able to show you some hidden treasures that you would otherwise never know about.
What is your process of choosing where to travel to? Do you consider additional factors than the ones outlined above?