The urge for a trip abroad is hard to ignore, whether you are a seasoned traveler or one that is just coming around to the idea of saving for a extravagant life-changing experience, and the most important question we are all faced with is where are we going to go. In many ways it is the best travel-related question of all to ask – so much nicer than, “when can I fit in a holiday?”, “How am I going to afford it?” and “how do I possibly pack everything I need into that case?” – but that does not make it any easier to answer. How far from your front door do you wish to stray on this next adventure? Which of the many lands out there should you visit and what it is that you want to do when you get there? There is a lot to consider when choosing a destination and it can be overwhelming but thankfully there are a few different approaches to take to make the ideal choice.
The practical approach on where to go
It is all very boring to think about the practical side of traveling but these elements can be very influential on the final decision of where to go so let’s get them over and done with now before we move on to the fun side of planning a holiday. The initial practical elements are determining how much time you can allow yourself and the budget because this can have a significant impact on how far you can go across the world and how much you can see. There is no point planning a full-on tour of a country if you have minimal funds and just a week to travel in. Safety and security is another unpleasant aspect that can affect a decision. The pretty picture of a tourist spot in a magazine may look inviting but if the nation has security warnings or health issues then it may not be so appealing. Finally there is the accessibility of the destination, both in terms of the visas available and the culture. Are you OK to travel to these exotic location if few people there will speak English? Isn’t it far better to just follow your heart when making this choice?
Practicalities are all way and good and certainly have their place in the finer details of planning a trip but they are not a great starting point for choosing a destination. The absolute ideal scenario for most of us is to finally make that life-long dream a reality and reach our ideal destination. For some this is simply a country or a place – somewhere seen in a movie or read about in a book as a child, perhaps the chance to retrace the footsteps of certain characters, or maybe even your family members. Have you always wanted to get in touch with your ethnic roots with a trip to the motherland? Alternatively, perhaps you have just been fascinated by a certain culture and want to experience as much as possible. How many American stereotypes can you see with your own eyes in New York or LA? Is there really an intense cultural difference between rural and urban Japan? Do you simply have a desire to taste real Chinese food instead of just takeaway menus?
For others, the dream destination is much more specific than that, such as a festival or a museum. There are art lovers and music lovers across the world that make the most of the opportunities close to home when they have the chance but have specific events, festivals or museum’s they would love to see, such as the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Smithsonian in the US or the unique Glastonbury experience in the UK. It could be absolutely anywhere as long as it is somewhere or something that you have had a strong desire to see in the flesh for a while. Dreams come in all shapes and sizes: for some it will be the Running of the Bulls or the festivities of Mardis Gras, for others the chance to experience a sporting event like the Superbowl live or see the actual brushstrokes of a favorite painting
What if you have no specific place in mind at all? Then how do you choose your destination?
Not all of us have that one dream destination or specific trip that we have been carrying around in our dreams and journals since we were teenagers, some of us simply have a desire to travel and explore new horizons, wherever they may be. At first this sounds wonderfully exciting, the whole world is available with countless destinations and experiences just waiting, but the world really is a very big and diverse place and is becomes impossible to choose between all those exciting prospects. How do you choose between a spiritual journey in deep Asia or a wild safari on some exotic plain, between one of the globe’s ancient wonders of civilization or one of its natural phenomenon like a volcano or the Northern Lights?
The first way to narrow down the options is to look at your interests:Exotic locations and food[/caption]
# food – foodies wanting to try new things and flavors should think about doing so in the land that dishes and ingredients originated from. Even classics can have an new element of excitement in their native land like real gelato and authentic pasta dishes in Rome, or how about seeing why all the best chefs seem to train in Paris? Just let your tastebuds influence your choice.
#culture – going back to the ideas of art and music and a cultural edge to a holiday, they can make wonderful themes too. A literary theme could also be a interesting twist. Do you have a favorite author? Where are they from, where did they get their inspiration and can you go there and be equally inspired?
#history – history buffs really are spoiled for choice because of the number of incredible museums and preserved sites around the world so again, pick a favorite and go to that site and relive it as best you can. There are so many options out there: ancient Greece at the Parthenon, the battlefields of the first world war – or any war that struck a cord – New England and the sites of the American revolution.
#wildlife – for animal lovers there is an obvious way to tailor a holiday – pick a favorite animal you have always wanted to see in the wild and find the best place to do so like a safari in Africa, the elephants of India, Polar bears in the Arctic. If there is a responsible way of seeing them then you should have a chance to get closer to your favorite species.
#religion – this splits into two categories, those that are interested in the theology of other nations – Buddhism or Hinduism being big draws for protestants and aetheists drawn by the color and ceremony – and those that have a pilgrimage they could take such as Mecca or the Vatican.
How about going somewhere you have never considered and being open to new ideas.
Looking at your interests is a great way of narrowing down a destination for the uncertain but if you are really brave there is another approach all together – let someone else make that decision for you. Traveling on the recommendations of others can be risky but reading travel books and seeing which passages and images stay with you the longest is an option. If you want to be really brave, however, just close your eyes, spin the globe and place a finger. This is extreme but it may land on a country with incredible possibilities that is not in the conventional guidebooks. Find it – research it with your interests in mind and before you know it you may have created a dream trip in a country you hadn’t heard of before.So where will it be?
Different approaches suit different people; for those that have that adventurous streak and the desire to just do something daring and wild the open approach with a guidebook and a globe could add a extra edge to the decision making and provide something really interesting; however, this is sure to be a step too far for many first timers and couples that are only just considering the prospect of a dream experience abroad. You can play it safe and practical but don’t be too practical; if there is some place or destination in the back of your mind, something you may have once considered because of a love of art, food, wildlife or whatever it may be, revisit the idea, see how much it really means to you and look into how viable it actually is. The result may surprise you and you could soon be planning for that dream trip after all.