“The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.”
I’ve always loved this quote from Robert Louis Stevenson. And when it comes to picking destinations for our travels, the “number of things” and places is almost overwhelming. One of the most difficult parts of travel for Rob and me is to finally settle on which of the 1,001 (or more!) places we want to visit this time!
It all starts with the dreaming. On the wall of our home is a large world map filled with red pins showing the places we have visited and, more importantly, green pins for the places we still want to explore. As we read, watch travel shows, talk to other travelers, the number of green pins keeps rising.
I love browsing through travel brochures and tour pamphlets. Rob and I have taken some organized tours, and there are some advantages to this method of travel. (More about that in an upcoming post!) When possible, though, we prefer to arrange trips ourselves, and I find that the tour brochures and travel guides are very helpful for finding places I might not have discovered on my own. Tour companies pick their itineraries for a reason, so they give us hints about the highlights of an unfamiliar region.
With so much information about the world available, coming up with ideas for future travels isn’t the big issue. Our list of travel dreams is probably too long to fit into one lifetime. The hard part is deciding where to go next!
Perhaps this is a problem for you, too. Here are some tips we’ve learned over the years that help us make out destination decisions.
Obviously, one big consideration is budget. I’ve been asked more than once how we manage to do all of this traveling. I think the key is setting priorities. Rob and I set the goal of traveling, so that is the focus for our finances. We don’t buy a new car every two years. The only expensive shoes I invest in are nice comfy walking shoes for exploring the highways and byways of faraway places. Eating out? I won’t say we never do, but we cook most of our meals at home.
Do we feel we miss out on anything? No! Sure, it would be fun to zip around in a cute little convertible, but I’d rather bounce along in a jeep following a cheetah chasing down its meal. It would be great to eat out every week, but we will save the special dinners for a balcony overlooking the Bay of Naples.
There are travel opportunities to meet almost every budget. You are going to see the same sights of the city whether you are staying in a five-star luxury hotel or in a small pensione. (And you’ll have a more authentic experience and get more feel for the local culture staying in the latter!)
Another consideration is the time of year you have available to travel. If you have a nice long winter holiday, isn’t it convenient that the southern hemisphere is enjoying the summer? It’s the perfect time to visit South America, New Zealand, or even Antarctica. Summer in the northern hemisphere is the best time for experiencing the Land of the Midnight Sun, Norway, and her sister Scandinavian countries. Spring and Fall are the best of the Mediterranean countries where the summer heat may sap your energy and enthusiasm.
So…you’ve picked the season. Now, what kind of experience to you want? Are you looking for a rich cultural experience in a completely unfamiliar environment?
A major city with great architecture, art museums, and fine dining?
Or maybe just a completely relaxing week on a quiet beach?
If you are like me, you want all of these experiences! Truth be told, there is no “best” way to pick the next trip. Rob and I just start talking and dreaming, and when we suddenly both say at the same time, “That’s the one!” then we know it’s the right choice.
So start dreaming! Make your own “Dream Destinations List,” close your eyes, and stab your pin in the map. In a world filled with so many wonderful things, you can hardly go wrong!