‘How do you decide on where to go?’ This is a question I get quite a bit, but especially so when I visit more far-flung or unpopular destinations. The honest answer is that it depends. I’ll be sharing six factors that always affect my decision.
Money talks. When deciding on where to go, I determine how much I can spend on the trip in its entirety before I get carried away with planning. This helps me quickly eliminate destinations that are out of budget. However, for this to work, I need to make sure my budget is realistic and includes all categories of expenses including: visa, airfare, accommodation, transportation, luggage fees, activities, food, and souvenirs/gifts.
Some places are currently off-limits since they cannot be supported by my current economy. Bora Bora, Tahiti, I’m looking at you!
When travelling with others, consider as much as possible where everyone wants to go, an agreed budget, and the availability of activities that cater to something that appeals to everyone. When travelling with groups, you will never meet everyone’s needs 100%, but with some compromise, everyone can have an enjoyable trip. Oneika wrote a great post on travelling with groups here, she said it all, I need not repeat. When traveling alone, I can do whatever I want, whenever I want.
This one’s important as it begs the question: what do you really want out of your trip? I find that people pick destinations based on popularity without making sure that the destinations actually fit what they want at the time. Then people end up being disappointed. Am I seeking adventure, culturally immersive experiences, food, relaxation, warm weather, winter sports, city life or countryside get-away? Do I want a hopping nightlife scene or peace and quiet with beautiful scenery and landscapes? For me, the answers differ from one trip/season to another but I seldom ever go on a beach-only vacation.
Distance & Time:
How much time do you have and how far are you willing to travel on a given trip? The number of days can determine how far one can go from home. Generally, for less than a week, I’m not crossing oceans! Otherwise one might end up spending a lot of time travelling, losing valuable time at the destination.
Visa Processing Time & Burden:
Well, that’s always right up there for those of us that often require visas. Some visa applications take a lot of time and money. Considering this often helps me narrow down my options pretty quickly (India, I’m looking at you!)
This is my favorite!! Sometimes, all it takes is a picture or an article and a seed for a trip is sown in my mind. Trips that have been inspired by images include Turkey, Bolivia, Zimbabwe, and Croatia (amongst others). For Turkey, it was an article on best places for a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia. For Bolivia, it was a picture of Salar De Uyuni and I was sold. With Zimbabwe, it was the picture of the glorious falls. I get inspired and I make plans to make it happen, it might take one year (Bolivia) or five years (Croatia).
So, what’s the number 1 factor for you in picking a destination, and what else determines where you go? Let me know in the comments below!