Choose Your Own Adventure

by Keith Savage · 3 comments

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So you want to travel the world. You’re eager to peel yourself off the couch and turn on your Out of Office Assistant. You want your eyes to grace foreign and exotic lands. The feeling seems to hit most of us at some point in life. Others require a little nudge (or push) to broaden their worldview, but without fail another trip is in the works soon after the first ends. Swine flu’s got nothing on the travel bug.

The decision of where to go can be easy or it can be excruciatingly difficult and filled with second thoughts. The obvious choice? Visiting your ancestors’ homelands or a relative or friend while overseas often just makes sense. Don’t deny it; you secretly pine for your friends and family to land in a distant locale so you can drop in. This is how I got back to Europe for the second time. My wife’s brother was doing a semester abroad in Germany and somehow we got to England, Italy, Germany, and Belgium before all was said and done. Note to self: it’s unseemly to start booking tickets while someone is breaking the news that they’re moving away.

You know you’re on the difficult, possibly more exciting, path when you’ve got a boatload of places vying for your attention and time. Everywhere sounds good. The options can bewilder and paralyze. After all, world travel has never been easier; every continent and even space(!!) are open to you. Check out these tips to help you choose your adventure:

  • Know your climate. Does the thought of windswept North Sea islands or snow-covered mountain passes cause you to subconsciously crank up the heat? This might be an indication you’re in the mood for a warmer destination. Perhaps this goes without saying, but remember that the summer months in the northern hemisphere are the winter months in the southern hemisphere. This simple decision can quickly cut your options in half.
  • Count your chips. The economy sucks and the dollar’s weak, but travelers on a budget need not be grounded. Consider avoiding notorious dollar-killing tourist hot-spots like northern Europe and the Caymans and other Caribbean islands. In many other countries the dollar converts very favorably and you can travel comfortably for a fraction of the cost. It’s true and ironic that flights to the “cheap” places can be quite expensive; give yourself some extra time to comb airfare sites looking for the best deal.
  • Classify your interests. Are you into adventure sports and have been dying to go Zorbing in New Zealand? Do you like zipping from one sight to another a la Rick Steves? Maybe your idea of a great trip is several weeks on the beach with a Piña Colada. No matter how your interests shake out, what’s important is that you can pin them down. Don’t worry if some or all of the areas you think of interest you – it’s just as helpful to know you need to find a destination that offers this flexibility.
  • Find your people quotient. Do you want to be surrounded by a thriving metropolis or consistently in the company of fellow travelers/tourists, or do you prefer remote villages and distant vistas with more livestock than humans? This is important. Few things can ruin a trip like having your human interaction quotient out of balance. Sleep on this one, it will help you cut through any lingering romanticism (take it from me, two weeks on the Orkney Islands in fall is not for the faint of heart) and get to what you really feel in your gut.

I’ll be using these same criteria to determine my next destination later next year. Help me out! What other tactics have you found to be helpful when pinning down your next trip destination.

KeithNo Gravatar December 20, 2009 at 8:46 PM

@BackpackingTravelGuide: Europe was my first destination and I couldn’t agree with you more. For all those reasons and because it’s a perfect place to slide into the serious traveler mindset. There isn’t a total lack of familiarity in most places.

@Akila: Planning a RTW trip must be killer. Building in the flexibility to adjust your itinerary on the go is important. Not only to accommodate changing tastes, but unforeseen circumstances and illnesses, too. Thanks for posting!

AkilaNo Gravatar December 20, 2009 at 8:16 PM

Oh gosh, this is a tough question. We wrote about this when we were first starting our RTW trip. My sister-in-law bought us the Lonely Planet world book and we ended up spending two days going through the book, creating a list of places we wanted to go, places we would like to go, and places we didn’t want to go. At the end of the day, we went with our gut and just picked places that we have always talked about going but haven’t had the chance to travel yet. Even now, half way through our trip, we are still changing our itinerary as we go along.

BackpackingTravelGuideNo Gravatar December 20, 2009 at 3:11 PM

I think the first trip abroad should be the one you have dreamed of taking the most. Europe is an obvious choice and for good reason…It’s beautiful, full of culture, history, easy to get around. Many will argue it’s too touristy, expensive and “Americanized” for the adventurous types. Nonetheless, Europe is never a disappointment and definitely a great starting point. You should easily be able to figure out where you want to go from there wether it be a completely new cultural experience (i.e. South East Asia) or the urge for adventure (i.e. South America).
.-= BackpackingTravelGuide´s last blog ..Links for 2009-12-17 [Digg] =-.

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