Modern travel offers so many options -- if you have the time and money you can go almost anywhere on the planet. Picking your next spot for an adventure can be overwhelming, so here are five ways to zero in on your next destination.
Decide How Long You Want To Travel
If you only have a short time for your trip, spending most of it travelling to and from your destination is not ideal. By putting time parameters into place, you can filter down potential holiday spots to those within a certain travel time radius. Free Map Tools' "How far can I travel" webapp shows you a map of how far you can get in the time you'd like to spend travelling. As an example, I've asked it to show where I can go within 3 hours of San Francisco via car at 70 mph. The map below gives me a great idea of where I can start looking based on my travel time limitations.
The only time this wouldn't be really necessary is when the transit method is part of the trip, such as a train ride or cruise. Just be sure you're willing to spend that long with the same people, in the same (albeit moving) location.
Determine Your Budget
Most people save a special stash of cash for their trips. Knowing how much you have to spend will help you decide where you want to go next. Make sure the cost of your flights don't cancel out a favourable exchange rate!
Your budget can help you figure out where you can go within your destination country, too. Bus and train tickets between cities in the same country often aren't cheap, but they're the best way to get around if you don't want to rent a car. In the end, only you can decide what is worth spending your hard-earned money on. For some, fancy food or luxurious accommodations are more important than travelling further.
Figure Out Your Preferred Environment
When it comes to travel, you'll most likely base your trip on the "environment" of your destination -- that is, the weather, landscape, and style of accommodations. Picking between urban or more open surroundings, warm or cool weather, whether you prefer a humid atmosphere or not is probably one of the first things you'll decide. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of snowy weather so I tend to be drawn towards warmer, beachy climates like California's central coast. You should also consider where you'll be staying, whether it's a hotel or hostel versus an Airbnb or Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO). One offers that luxury, catered experience, but the other gives you something basic or something that feels like home. Deciding on each of these will help narrow down what location you want to visit next.
What Cultural Experience Do You Want?
Depending on where you're from, familiar culture varies. Regardless, you have to figure out if you want to experience something similar to your native culture, or immerse yourself in something different from what you know.
This is an especially important question to answer because it can have a huge impact on your trip experience. Surrounding yourself with an unfamiliar culture can be shocking, lonely, and stressful. It can also be incredibly inspiring and refreshing. If you do opt for a dissimilar cultural experience, it helps to research the cultural traditions and history of the place you plan to visit. To get started, check out EveryCulture, and this piece from EduBlogs with links to tons of sites where you can learn more about various aspects of different cultures. Culture also applies if you're staying within your country too, so don't forget to do your homework.
Pick Your Top Activities
Lastly, consider what activities you want to fill your time with. If you're most interested in exploring the outdoors, then travelling somewhere that's known for it's natural beauty and hiking may be best. I'll never forget hiking a mountain just outside Kyoto then relaxing in a nearby onsen (hot springs). Picking somewhere with a reputation for excellent food or drink is perfect if culinary experience is at the top of your list -- my taste buds have fond memories of apertivo in Italy and ramen in Japan. If art strikes your fancy, search for a spot full of museums that house the world's best collections. Basically, decide what you want to spend most of your holiday doing and organise your destination around them.
Whether you've travelled far and wide or have never left your hometown, making the decision of where to go next isn't easy. Thinking about these five areas as they relate to your interests will help narrow down your trip spot as well as help make sure you enjoy your choice.