You might have a travel list completely full of travel destinations and places to go, or you might be overwhelmed by the abundance of choice and struggle to make up your mind. In any case, there is a simple process I have developed over my 10+ years on the road to chose my next destinations. Some people frankly don’t plan enough and let themselves go with the flow, which is perfectly fine sometimes. But in my case, I spend a lot of time planning reading and I cannot recommend enough researching on candidate destinations and synchronizing with the best times to go to every part of the world. Doing your homework beforehand you will definitely thank yourself later by enjoying being at the right place at the right time!
How Much Time do you Have
first you should calculate how much time you have available. If you only have a week, you won’t be going too far around the globe on those 24+ hour flights, as reaching your destination should be as quick as possible. If you have a month or two, that’s when it becomes interesting. I usually try to arrive in an area of the world where I can spend several months at a time, and that usually means 2 to 3 months. That is usually the amount of time most countries allow people in with simple tourist visas. In Europe, for example, the Schengen visa is good for 3 months (every 6 months) so that is a good time to allow yourself in the area. If the country is small, consider adding some nearby countries to your travel itinerary to match the amount of time you may have. For example in South America, it is good to join Brazil with Argentina and Uruguay in one single trip of a month or two.
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If you have a year or more, I highly recommend to stop backpacking for a while and planning some extended time in a few destinations. Being always on the road and changing place every 2 to 3 days can be exhausting. In my case I know that after 2 months backpacking I like to stop in some city I like and want to discover more thoroughly and get an apartment on Airbnb for one month. Its the perfect time to recharge your batteries, getting some work done and discovering the place.
How Much Money do you Have
Definitely an important question, as this can dictate how long you can stay in one destination. It is very important to consider the season you are traveling in one place at high season can generate double or triple prices on food and accommodation in some areas. Also, research which events are happening at the time. For example, arriving on carnival month in Rio de Janeiro can be an incredible experience, but this is an expensive time of the year and prices easily triple even for a simple dorm bed in a hostel. So this needs to be taken into account. As a good rule of thumb, for backpacking trips I usually recommend in general 50$ daily excluding travel, knowing you will spend more in some areas like in western Europe, and less in others like in South-East Asia.
Another important aspect of choosing a destination is to have a cheap flight to reach the destination. Flight can get really expensive in some areas of the world at some time of the year. It can even be a big chunk of your budget, some people spending as much as 40% of their travel budget just on flights.
You might want to check out my popular article about the Map of the best quality/price destinations that I have prepared, comparing countries against each other and what you can get out of a destination for your hard earned money. Another useful website you can use to figure out how expensive a destination can be is to use Numbeo.com, a very useful website to see how a city compares to another so you can have an idea of local prices and what you will be spending. Also, check out Expatisan.com for another useful tool for comparing city prices.
Fortunately for you, I have also prepared a complete guide with 13 tricks on how to save money for your trip, so don’t forget to check it out!
Weather and Seasons Worldwide
Don’t Disregard this aspect as it can be determining for your love of a place. For example, going to Canada during the winter with -40 degrees temperatures can be a challenging experience compared to the lively atmosphere of the summer in Montreal where Festivals and events are plentiful! Europ, for example,e is always better in the spring and summer as it is much more comfortable to travel without jackets and heavier gear. Europe in the summer also has tons of extra activities, events, and festivals so coming in the wintertime would make you miss out on this. I also always synchronize my trips in South East Asia outside the monsoon season, making it very difficult to travel under the rain. Post-card beach destinations can turn into hell and be very boring and deserted during the rainy season so planning this accordingly is a must. I usually look on wikitravel.com or wikipdia.com for the city I go to and check their yearly weather section. They usually have a graphic with temperatures and Rainfall statistics.
Local Events and Activities
I like to research what is happening in a city before I go. If I can be at some place during a local festival, that’s usually the ideal scenario. It makes it much more exciting and brings a lot of content to your experience. A simple google search on “city + events or festivals” can usually do the trick, and looking at the Wikitravel page of a city will list yearly events in most cities. I also look at websites like eventbrite.com which can list concerts and shows that can happen while you are in a city. You would hate yourself to have missed your favorite Band by only 2 days!
Planning for Each City
Luckily for you, there are extremely useful tools out there that can help you draw and suggest destinations for the perfect itinerary on your next trip. I like google maps as I can track the cities by pinning them and catching them back on my phone. But you might want to try RoutePerfect which is a free tool that lets you enter the starting point and ending point of your trip and help you with suggestion routes. Playing with the easy sliders can draw your ideal trip in a few clicks! Travel Picker is another tool that helps you with destination suggestions.
What About your Next Trip?
Remember that we never know as much as we think we do. In my experience, I know that the more I travel, the more I discover the existence of destinations I had no clue existed before and put them on my “to travel list” for my next adventure. It can be a dangerous (and healthy) addiction, as this way of thinking has brought me to more and more destinations in the world, year after year, until I reached my current count of 188 countries visited out of the 196 UN recognized countries! And I still have a bigger list of destinations every year than when I started!
So what are your next ideal destinations? where do you plan to go and how do you prepare for this next rip? Let me know in the comments and let’s continue the discussion!
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