After brainstorming potential destinations to visit using categories from Part I, it’s time for our next step: making destination decisions!
Of all the incredible places in the world to see, how do you decide on a place for your next trip?
Whether your list includes five or 196 countries, you will have to start somewhere. Sometimes the more options we have, the more difficult it is to actually choose.
In Part II, we will learn five useful categories to help us make up our mind and get going!
I long for a day when we can travel the world without spending money. Unfortunately, that is not a reality most people, if anyone, can swing.
Money is one of the first things our mind goes to when thinking about traveling. Airfare, hotels, luggage, taxis, eating out, enough drinks to subdue the pain of your sunburn. The list can go on and on.
While it’s important to consider your finances, don’t let money instantly deter you from wanting to visit someplace. Know that you will need to consider realistic expenses when creating a budget and understand what you can afford.
Before creating a budget, it’s much easier to come up with a price range that suits your style of travel (conservative, luxurious, sleeping in a tent, etc.).
For example, let’s say all I know is that I want to travel solo for two weeks this summer…
Enter Lee’s Conscious
“I’m comfortable spending anywhere between $600-800, but I absolutely can’t go over $1,000. Considering international flights out of Austin, TX cost over half my price range, I’m going to look at domestic (U.S.) locations. I’ve always wanted to experiment with budget traveling, so a camping road trip to a nearby National Park could be a good choice. Let’s look at what parks are within a 15 hour drive of me!”
By simply naming a price range, I’m first able to narrow down my list to domestic locations. Using a purpose of travel brainstormed in Part I, I know I’d enjoy camping. National Parks usually have great camping, so now I can look at nearby parks and further my decision using categories from this entry.
When making destination decisions, compare travel prices (air, train, etc.), time of travel (time = money), and relevant activities against your specified price range. If a trip exceeds the amount you are willing to spend, put that destination on the back burner and focus on more affordable spots.
Similarly, consider costs associated with any gear or apparel you would need to buy. This is especially relevant if you are going somewhere for an activity and need to buy something like rock climbing equipment, skis, or scuba diving lessons.
Overall, you know what you can afford so be smart and realistic with your financial planning.
Our next category to help us decide on a destination is all about pursuing what we don’t know! Depending on your personality, this could be hit or miss for you.
When looking at your list, focus on destinations you are least familiar with and don’t know much, if anything, about.
I understand uncertainty is a common fear, but sometimes throwing yourself into the unknown is the best way to learn.
Okay…maybe not literally throwing yourself into the unknown like this person.
Not having any expectations about a place can also improve our experience, as almost everything we do will be a surprise.
Turning unknowns into experience and knowledge is incredibly beneficial.
Fitting with Edge of Comfort’s mission, pursuing our least-familiar destinations and adventures pushes us beyond our comfort zone, enables growth and is surprisingly rewarding.
If you’re willing to go head-first into the unknown, this is one of the more fun ways to choose a destination. I highly encourage choosing a place that will force you out of your comfort zone (in a good way).
Our next category helps us decide on a destination based on how threatening a place is to visit.
Safety is obviously important since we’d like to get home, or to our next destination, in one piece.
Safety includes things like health, economic/political stability, and weather.
Within health, be aware of known viruses like Malaria or recent outbreaks like Zika. This helps tell us to get proper immunizations before departure, or helps us stay away from a place altogether.
For economic/political stability, many resources exist to keep us informed in real-time on a country’s level of safety. From terrorist activity to other violence and instability, you should probably avoid countries where you are deliberately targeted because of where you’re from.
Being from the U.S., the resource I use most often is The United States Department of State (USDOS) website for warnings and alerts. These can change every day, so make sure to stay up to date on travel safety news.
One of the recent warning looks like this:
Traveling to North Korea isn’t a good idea right now? No shit.
Here’s another less obvious warning:
While these are important to keep watch of and consider, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should avoid an entire country. Usually these warnings are for specific areas, leaving the rest of the country safe to visit.
Overall, be smart and stay alert by following news for countries on your list. Also make sure to do research into what to watch for in specific areas, like pickpocketing in Europe.
Honestly, most places you go are just as safe, if not safer, then where you live.
Right now in Chicago you may only hear about murders and violence, but most of Chicago is safe to visit. Don’t overreact, look through online resources, and use common sense!
Our next category considers travel needed to get to a place based on geography and our relative distance.
For example, while visiting Bali for five days I learned about the Kawah Ijen volcano on a nearby island that spits out blue lava.
To get to the volcano from Bali, you need to travel to the far west side of the island, boat across to east Java, and get a ride to the volcano.
Already being in Bali, this doesn’t require as much effort compared to being in Peru. If you’re in Bali and aren’t sure if you’ll ever be back again, taking the effort to see the volcano would probably be worth it.
Ask yourself if you think you will ever have a chance to get somewhere again. While I know we can’t answer this with certainty, the extra thought helps us decide and move on.
Think about how accessible certain destinations are and take advantage of difficult destinations to visit when you are close by.
PURPOSE OF TRAVEL (AGAIN)
Bringing back a category from Part I, your purpose of travel can help you decide on a destination.
The reasons are pretty similar from the first step, so I suggest reading it over if you haven’t already.
- Consider what you actually want to do on your travels (activities, sightseeing, visit a friend, etc.).
- Narrow down destinations you could complete said things.
- Consider categories from this step and choose the best place to fulfill your purpose!
Using categories like money, unfamiliarity, safety, accessibility, and purpose of travel (again), you are well-equipped to narrow down your list and choose your next trip!
You don’t need to use all categories together when deciding, but it can definitely help when you are feeling indecisive or split.
Sometimes all we need is one small reason to choose somewhere. Don’t dwell too much on your choices – just go with what makes sense and make the most of it!