So, you’re getting itchy feet and want to go on a holiday, you just don’t know where yet. That’s the exact position I was in last November, when I decided to take an extended break between jobs to recharge (and learn to surf!). How do you decide on where to go next? Here are some things that I found myself thinking about when planning my travels.
Last November, I was based in Hong Kong and if you’ve ever traveled to Hong Kong (if you haven’t yet, read this post), or had a layover there, you will know that it has one of the best airports in the world. This means plenty of flights, airlines and routes to choose from – you can pretty much get to most destinations via direct flight or a pretty painless layover. I was pretty lucky in the sense that it was relatively easy and cost-effective (i.e. cheap) to travel. #Firstworldproblems, am I right?
Which brings me to my first point!
1. What is your budget and how long are you planning on going for?
Money. The dreaded topic. But alas – how much are you looking to spend? Flights, accommodation, food, beers – these all add up. I love visiting friends – I love my friends. But I also shamelessly love being able to stay with them to save on accommodation expenses. If you’re on a tight budget, research the exchange rate so you’re stretching your money. Do you want to be able to see a few different cities and towns and maximize your time in a particular country? Look into the various transportation modes available (buses, planes, trains), or you could just rent a scooter like we did along the Amalfi coast!
If you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway, where can you go that is relatively close and easy to get to? Travel is travel – you don’t have to take a plane and go to an exotic country 4000 miles away. My first port of call was Taipei, which is only an hour away from Hong Kong by plane. I stayed with family, slept 12 hours a day and gorged myself on Taiwanese street food. All-in-all, a huge success.
There are plenty of websites with flight and package deals so do some research beforehand as different places also tend to have different peak seasons. For example, Southeast Asia tends to be busy over July-September and December-March, and some countries will also celebrate a local New Year or have major local festivals and holidays. Avoid these for cheaper flights and accommodation.
Also make sure you’re aware of what season you’re going into: don’t make the mistake of going to Melbourne over “summer” in July and packing bikinis and sunglasses, only to be met with rain and hail.
3. What is your travel style and what do you want to do?
Are you a foodie? Do you want to stay in a resort and tan by the beach? Is it time for a yoga retreat? Do you want to be one with nature and spend time hiking, canoeing and zip-lining? Are you an avid snowboarder or surfer? Or, do you want to visit museums and immerse yourself in rich culture? Different cities offer different things to do and experiences so bear this in mind when you choose your travel destination.
4. Are you traveling with friends, to visit friends, or by yourself?
I love to travel with my friends. I also have friends who love to travel alone – it’s just a matter of personal preference. One thing I love to do is visit my friends who live abroad – Melbourne, London, New York – you can go to their favorite restaurants and sights, sometimes even exploring new parts of the city that they themselves haven’t even had a chance to visit. If you’re planning a trip with friends, remember that different people may want different travel experiences so it’s important to discuss this ahead of time.
If you are traveling alone, there are dozens of places to visit that are fun and safe (the general rules of common sense apply here). From my personal experience, Taiwan, Hong Kong (of course), Sri Lanka, London, Australia, some cities in Thailand, Bali, and most major cities in Europe and the U.S. are great – obviously I am not an authority on this subject and this is not an exhaustive list as there are many places I have yet to visit!
5. The nitty gritty
Visas: Do you need a visa to enter the country? If so, how difficult is the application process? Fortunately, most countries have visa exemption policies but it’s important to find out if you’re eligible for the exemption. VisaHQ is a good resource – just enter what country’s passport you hold and your destination country. More good news: many countries have moved their visa application process online so it’s just a matter of filling out a web form and paying a small application fee (normally $15-25 USD).
Travel warnings: By no means should you base your entire decision on this, but it is something you should consider – do your research and make an informed decision. Governments issue travel warnings and alerts for a number of reasons, some of which are more temporary than others. Reasons may include civil war, political instability, disturbances due to protests, disease outbreaks and so on…but they may also include reasons such as airport strikes, snowstorms, typhoons, monsoons, you get the gist.
Language: Honestly, from my experience this is such a minute issue. The point of traveling is to be exposed to different cultures, food and people; language is a crucial part of this process. Do not let language concerns hold you back from visiting a new place. Write down the name and address of your hotel and learn some basic phrases if you have time; if not, install the Google Translate app on your phone – you’ll be just fine 99% of the time!
Do you have any other thoughts on what to consider when planning your next travel destination? Share and comment below!
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