Top Tips on How to Choose a Travel Destination
If you’ve made it your New Year’s Resolution to see the world one destination at a time, you might be ready and raring to book your flights and pack your bags. However, choosing which destination to tick off your bucket list first can be rather difficult. There are so many amazing destinations to choose from, and each one is a whole new experience that will leave your heart happy and your passport full. Thankfully, you don’t have to worry too much about choosing your vacation destinations in 2020. These following tips will help you decide how to choose a travel destination to visit this year.
My travel bucket list is ever-expanding. There isn’t a place I don’t want to travel and the more I see of the world, the more I know there is to discover. Over the past 12 months, I was able to tick a lot of Eastern European locations off my bucket list, including wandering the magical Christmas markets of Romania, my first time skiing in Europe and exploring the famous Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia.
While many of the destinations I chose to visit were spontaneous, there were some that I had been researching and planning for quite awhile. You can follow my tips below for how I research and choose a place to travel to.
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Start by generating ideas
Choose your activities
If you’re stuck on where to go for your next vacation, it might be easier to think of what you’ve always wanted to do. If you’ve always wanted to experience a traditional Holi festival, why not make your way to India in March? Not only will you be able to appreciate the bright colours and the vibrant festivities yourself, but you’ll also be able to see what else this beautiful country has to offer.
Maybe you want nothing more than to hop into a basket and take a balloon ride over the beautiful landscape of Cappadocia in Turkey? Or maybe you want to hike up to the see the ethereal monasteries of Meteora in Greece? There’s so much to see and do out in the world – so make sure the next holiday you go on really excites you.
For me, I have always wanted to see the northern lights. As there are many places you can see the northern lights I will use this activity as my first step in researching where you can see the aurora borealis. Next, I will find places that fit within my budget in terms of accommodation, activities on offer and transport to the area.
Know what you like
As a traveller, you probably know exactly what you like and exactly what you don’t like. You may be the kind of person to laze on a beach for a week, or you may be the kind of person who wants to fill their days with activity after activity. Working from this knowledge is one of the best ways to choose a destination in 2020. When you decide what you want from your vacation, you can narrow down your options and find the right fit for you.
If you love adrenaline and being go-go-go then there is no point looking for travel destinations at a resort or in a lazy beach-side town. Start by researching adventure holidays or active escapes. A few ideas would be to go on a hiking holiday to the Balkans, visit Juneau, Alaska for an adventure lovers playground or go paragliding in Turkey at the highest tandem drop site.
If you’re not on Pinterest yet, then you need to be. I love using Pinterest for finding places to travel and things to do in each of the destinations I visit. I always prefer to read posts by others and to get personal recommendations and stories.
Pinterest is a visual search engine, so you can see the places before clicking on the links. You can search for anything the same way as you search in Google. For example, search for the best places to go skiing in Lake Tahoe and it will bring up a list of the Tahoe ski resorts. It will also bring up a list of popular keywords associated with your search to help you delve even deeper into your idea.
Once you have found a few great ideas, save them to aboard that you can come back to. You can make these boards private or public.
Instagram is another place I frequently go for travel inspiration. Although I mostly use Instagram once I have my destination picked. Firstly, I will search for the official destination accounts of my country/region or city. Then I will narrow my searches by using hashtags and inserting things I am interested in. For example, I love a good cafe, so I will make sure to search for #belfastcafes #belfastcoffee and so on.
The hashtags seem to have no end. When you start typing, Instagram will also give you the most popular searches that are related in a drop-down form. Which means, if you don’t quite know where to begin, just start by entering your destination and see what Instagram suggests.
Know your boundaries
How much time do you have?
Are you planning for a weekend getaway, a week-long escape or a big month-long trip? Knowing this will allow you to know if the trip you want to do can realistically fit into your time off work. Remember to take into account travel time and possible jet-lag and recovery.for long-haul flights.
Who are you travelling with?
Are you after family-friendly activities or hitting the road solo? There will be certain destinations that are better for each type of traveller.
What is your budget?
I’m guessing because you are here, you are more of a budget traveller. Although that’s not to say you like roughing it. I like to call myself a mid-range budget traveller. I’ll skimp on some things but not on others. If you’re after a cheaper vacation stay away from large resort chains, hotels and overly touristy areas. Instead, opt for fun, cute Airbnbs, travel in the off-season and go somewhere you know isn’t overrun by tourists and such the ‘tourist tax’. Another option is to…
Travel closer to home
Have you ever heard of a staycation? Although many people see this as taking time off work and taking a much-needed break on the couch, a staycation is also a way of exploring your own country. During my year working full-time in Australia, my weekends were usually spent exploring the local and regional area.
Many people believe that you have to travel across the globe to truly see the world, but that just isn’t the case. Sometimes just a short drive or flight can allow you the chance to see what lies closer to home. There are no long-haul flights involved, there are no changes in currency, and there aren’t even any language barriers.
Plus, it’s always nice to be able to know more about your home country than the rest of the world. So next weekend, grab some friends and make it your mission to explore somewhere new close to your home.
Other ideas to help pick your next vacation
Step off the beaten track
Booking a vacation is easier than ever. With so many booking sites available for people to use across the world, you can plan your next adventure with the click of a button. However, these sites rarely give travellers the chance to explore the unknown. They offer package deals to busy tourist destinations that give you only a small slice of the country. You end up missing out on so much more that the country has to offer.
So, why don’t you step off the beaten track? The Secret Traveller blog at 1Cover has noted that there are many hidden gems across the world, including destinations such as the Lost City in Colombia, and Appi in Japan.
This is another reason why I love travelling with work exchange programs. Travelling by exchanging your skills for free accommodation and food usually puts you in a smaller, lesser-visited area of a country. Many times the places you end up in are not a top travel destination to visit but they are some of the most memorable and culturally inclusive trips I have been on.
Choosing a 2020 travel destination can be hard if you already have somewhere in mind but can’t financially make it happen. You may have been dreaming of this destination for years, without being able to afford the flights and accommodation. Well, 2020 is the year to change that. Although vacations can be expensive, there are ways to cut costs here and there.
If you can’t afford the direct flights to the country, why not be creative and see if you can get around them? It may be that you can fly to another country, before grabbing a sleeper train or bus to your dream destination. This will not only save you some money, but it will also provide with an exciting opportunity. For this reason, I also use Airbnb for my travels. I find hotels are always expensive and staying in one means you need to eat all of your meals out. Staying in an Airbnb allows you to cook your own meals and find cheaper accommodation.
Read and follow travel blogs
Even before I started writing Curiously Erin, I had been a huge travel blog reader. I have a bookmarks folder in Chrome dedicated to all of my favourites. Sometimes I will go on in search of a particular location and others I leave their top and most recent posts to do the inspiring for me. If you are looking for some new travel bloggers to follow in 2020, take a look at my favourite travel bloggers.
Sign up to email alerts
Another great tip is to sign up to email alerts from airline websites. Maybe inspiration will strike when you receive an email with a 50% off sale to a destination you had never previously considered. There’s nothing like a good sale to make you rethink a place for a holiday. Many websites, will let you put in your home airport to personalise the sales you receive.
Skyscanner is also a great website. You can pop in your home airport and search ‘everywhere’ or via the map view. The map view is a really cool feature as you get the chance to scroll around the world looking for cheap flights in any given month. It will colour code the cheap flights as green and the more expensive ones red. So you don’t waste time clicking on places that you know you can’t afford. Be careful though, because you can literally lose hours doing this.
The world really is our oyster, but sometimes this can make how to choose a travel destination even more difficult. Which one do you choose? If you have any more tips for choosing destinations to visit in 2020, let me know in the comments!