How To Decide Where To Travel
I often get asked how I pick where to travel to and how I come up with all of these interesting destinations. Here is a bit of insight into my process to help you decide where to travel and find a unique and spot for your next big trip!
What I Look For In A Destination
In my searches, I generally look for:
- A place that will give me a sense of adventure,
- A journey into the unknown, and
- A beautiful backdrop.
These are my first instincts and it’s usually one of these three that trigger my desire to travel somewhere, wherever I may have stumbled upon the inspiration. Let’s look a bit deeper into each of these.
A Sense Of Adventure
As you can tell from much of my site, I’m a bit of a thrill seeker and enjoy journeys with an adventurous spirit. Sometimes I pick where to travel largely based on one thrilling experience, like my Gorilla Trek in Uganda. Other times it could be the destination’s reputation for such things, such as New Zealand – arguably The Extreme Sport Capital of the World (although I imagine Norway may have something to say about this). Adventure can take many different forms and doesn’t necessarily have to be about an adrenaline-fueled activity. Adventure can be something like long hikes, a unique experience, or being somewhere extremely foreign to you, which leads me to:
A Journey Into The Unknown
There’s something special about being somewhere remote that few people get to visit. Seeing something completely new is a great way to expand your worldview and get an appreciation for how vast and varied this planet can be. Sometimes even places that wouldn’t typically appeal to you can fall into this category. Don’t always let stories of bad conditions and infrastructure or the idea of massive culture shock keep you away from a place; you may be surprised at what you find when you look into some of these destinations.
A Beautiful Backdrop
Being a photographer, visiting a place where I can take beautiful photos is a top priority. Thankfully scenic destinations tend to make for incredible places to travel to in person as well! I’ve even planned trips based solely on beautiful pictures I’ve seen! This is probably the easiest category to get loads of information on, yet the most difficult to narrow down (the world is so enormous and full of beauty!). Decide what types of scenery appeal to you, whether it’s incredible cityscapes, remote landscapes, underwater adventures or more!
Ok, But How Do I Find Those Things?
I have to admit I’m a bit of an internet addict. That, combined with my love of photography, fuels most of my methods of finding where to travel, many of which are completely by accident!
My Usual Web Haunts
Reddit is a great place to get inspiration for where to travel, especially after you’ve customized it to your tastes. Obvious spots to start are the Travel subreddit for travel info and Earth Porn (don’t be scared by the name) for gorgeous scenery. For your adventurous ideas, check out Sweaty Palms and Adrenaline Porn for some probably not-so-safe but exciting ideas.
For more specialized sites, I’ve subscribed to a few newsletters like National Geographic and Lonely Planet, where I get beautiful photos and ideas for where to travel on a weekly basis. In fact, one of the articles of a weekly National Geographic letter convinced me to visit the Faroe Islands!
Social Media is a great place to find inspiration from others. My personal favorites are Instagram and Flickr. Find accounts from the types of places or people that align with your interests and enjoy a constant feed of new ideas!
Sometimes You Just Have A Feeling…
Some of my favorite destinations such as Antarctica and Rural China were trips I took based on a simple feeling that they would be beautiful places to travel. I’m sure these seeds were planted by various things I’d seen about them, but before I planned either of these trips I had NO idea what to expect other than “I like the idea of visiting X!”
You Know Where To Travel, Now What?
Contrary to many travelers who consult guide books, I usually head straight to the web and google the name of the country I’ve decided to visit. From there, I check out the Image results as a jumping off point for what I’d like to see. Obviously, some countries have specific sights you’ll be planning to see, but sometimes these image results hold new surprises. If an image jumps out at me as something I would like to see, I begin researching where it’s located, what else is around there, and how it fits in my itinerary. After that I’ll keep googling phrases about the country such as “(country) photography” and “most beautiful places in (country)” and build a list from there.
After that, I’ll head over to forums like TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet to see what people are saying about the country. Often, there will be local experts chiming in for insider suggestions that most people would not have thought of.
Formulate a Plan
Once you’ve gotten your list of destinations together, figure out how much time you’ll be spending on the road and start mapping it out! I typically visit several countries on one trip, so it takes a bit of planning to prioritize how much time to spend in each place. Decide if your itinerary warrants staying in one place for an extended period of time or taking a road trip. In the end, every location and itinerary has it’s unique quirks and requirements so figure out what works best for you.
Once you have your travel itinerary together, find out what other requirements your destination has. Make sure your passport is properly up to date, apply early if you need to get any visas, and check that you have the proper vaccinations and other health requirements. If you’re based in the Unites States, the Department of State Website is a great resource on most destinations.
Get Out There!
That’s it! You’ve done the groundwork! You’ve decided where to travel to, gotten your plan together, and you’re ready! Now count down the days until you depart, pack light, keep an open mind and, most importantly, have fun!