Who here has drifted off during school or work into that wonderful daydream where you imagine all of the things you would do if you won the lottery? Me. I dream up all sorts of scenarios with personal chefs and extravagant shopping sprees, but when I really think about it, I want an unlimited travel budget and the vacation days to go along with it. The travel bug bit me hard after college and has been flowing through my veins ever since. Over the past few years, I have been privileged to explore some wonderful places (mostly with David), and have learned a few things about planning, budgeting, and prioritizing in order to create unforgettable experiences. Stick with me on this multi-post series and I promise your next trip will be equally as perfect.
This week's post will help you answer the most important question: Where should I/we go? When it comes to travel, the sky's the limit (and soon even it won't hold you back). So many options often lead me feeling stuck and unable to make a decision, but I have compiled a list of questions which I like to ask myself, and I believe are key to starting the planning process. It's important to point out this entire series assumes you are in charge of planning, which sometimes is not the case, especially when it comes to group trips. However, many of these questions can still be applied to group and family situations, so read on anyways.
1. What kind of trip do I want to take?
I generally divide trips into two categories; vacation and travel. It's not a perfect division, but knowing where you fall on the spectrum helps ensure a more successful experience. Here's a basic breakdown:
2. How much time do I have?
Is your next trip an extended weekend, a week off of work, etc.? How much time you have matters because you probably don't want to sit on a plane or in a car for 12 hours if you only have 3 days to relax or explore.
Do I care about the weather? If so, how?
If you are like me, the answer is always "yes" and by "yes" I mean nothing below 60 degrees. If you don't care about the weather at all, feel free to move on to the next question. If you do care, take a minute to think about why. Maybe you are like me and want to travel someplace where you can leave your heavy coat behind, but maybe you hate walking around in the heat and humidity and would prefer someplace cooler.
4. Who is traveling with me?
Are you going alone? With a significant other or friend? Is your entire family following along? The make up of your group counts when it comes to picking the perfect destination. If you are traveling with others you may want to consider things like the availability of age appropriate activities and physical stamina. For example, you may love walking around all day, but your grandparents or 5 year-old nephew may be looking for something a little less vigorous. If you are embarking on a solo trip, however, you may prefer ultimate flexibility.
Note: I am not knocking grandparents at all here, mine happen to be in better physical shape then many people half their age, just trying to make a point.
5. Safety/health: does it matter?
Yes, but this is yet another example of personal preference and comfort level. All I can say is do your research. A good place to start is the State Department Alerts and Warnings webpage. Another thing to consider is your current health and any vaccinations you may need in order to stay healthy during your travel. Prior to my trip to India in grad school, I received a few vaccine boosters recommended by the Center for Disease Control. Maybe spending a little extra on these expenses matters to you, but maybe it doesn't. All I am recommending it to ask the question and consider how health and safety impact you and/or your fellow travelers.
Picking your next magical travel destination may seem daunting when the entire world is at your finger tips, but starting with these five questions will help guide you in the right direction.
In Part 2 of this series I will tackle the biggest question of all: what is my budget and how do I stick to it? Stay tuned.
Walking enthusiast, kitchen experimenter, sports lover (watching, not playing), and future world traveler.
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