“Wherever you go, go with all your heart”
Back when I was a teenager, I was full of wanderlust for Australia and New Zealand. Australia dominated my mind for many years so when I finally pushed myself to travel alone and stop waiting for friends, I knew where I had to go. There were dozens of countries that intrigued me but since this part of the world had dominated my travel dreams for so many years, I knew I couldn’t go anywhere else. If a certain destination has always been on your mind, that’s a great place to start. However, this is not always the case. Not too long ago, I backpacked around Ethiopia for one month. I had never considered Ethiopia as a travel destination but because I was heading to Tanzania for a safari, I began to research neighboring countries. Suddenly, Ethiopia grabbed my attention. The country has ancient rock-hewn churches, medieval castles, an amazing culture, and my personal favorite – a permanent lava lake. Once I learned that I could stand next to a volcano throwing lava right in front of my eyes, I knew where I was going next.
For many of you, choosing where to go is probably the easiest part of planning the trip. Maybe you’ve been dreaming of a place for as long as I dreamed of Australia and making the choice is simple. For others, there might be multiple destinations calling out to you. Now that I’ve been traveling for more than six years, my decisions of where to go have actually become more difficult. There are so many places that I want to see and each place I visit presents two new places for me to go. If you already have a dream trip in mind, feel free to skip this section. If you want some fun ways to pick your next destination, keep reading.
As mentioned above, if a place has always been at the forefront of your thoughts, why not start with that? Completing it will give you an immense sense of satisfaction and will probably lead you down paths to new destinations. You can also branch out. Although I chose Australia and New Zealand for my first solo trip, I took a side trip to Bali, Indonesia. This gave me a new wanderlust for Southeast Asia and led to me returning to that beautiful and welcoming part of the world in 2012, this time traveling for a full year.
Spin the Globe
Remember that game spin the bottle? Well this isn’t it. Travel has caused me to become fascinated with globes and maps. I love scanning over them and imagining myself in random countries. While this likely isn’t a common exercise, it’s perfectly doable and sounds like a lot of fun. Place your finger in the middle of the globe, spin with your eyes closed and then stop it with your finger. Wherever it is, pick a country on a lateral line from north to south. that aligns with your finger. No cheating. If you land on an open body of water, you better learn how to swim.
Scan the Store
As an extreme travel lover, I often find myself in the travel section of a book store looking at covers to see what catches my eye. Massive photo books are my favorite. There’s nothing better than a jaw-dropping landscape to stir the wanderlust within you. Scan the travel aisle or peruse through an eye-catching book until something pops out at you. Do that until you have a place to go.
If you love to scuba dive or think you would enjoy scuba diving then go to world famous scuba diving locations like Sipadan, Malaysia or the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. Plan a trip based on what you’re passionate about doing. If you have a passion for animals, consider a safari in Tanzania, Borneo, or Canada. Then again, you could also volunteer your services at an animal refuge in Bolivia. If you’re passionate about food, try Mexico, Italy, or Thailand. Once you’re in your element doing what you crave, you can branch out and experience other new and wonderful things you never imagined.
When I choose my destinations, I usually want to go somewhere completely dissimilar to home. After all, if I’m going to travel around the world, I feel like I should explore different cultures, landscapes, and mindsets. I live in Canada so I want to go to places like India, Indonesia , China and Ethiopia. These countries are very different than where I come from. Find the difference you want to experience and then find the place.
Budget can be a huge deciding factor when it comes to travel. Some of the cheapest places in the world to travel to include India, Thailand, Laos, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam, just to name a few. On the other hand, some of the most expensive countries include Australia, England, Japan, Switzerland, Denmark and much of the developed world. While budget is certainly an important thing to consider, don’t let it stop you. Just because Italy is expensive to visit, it doesn’t mean you can’t get creative and make it cheaper for you to do. There are hundreds of ways budget travellers explore expensive countries. You just need to do some research.
If a certain language peaks your interest, this is a great way to pick a destination. For example, many people love spanish. If you’ve always wanted to learn spanish and speak with locals in their native language, you may want to consider Mexico or almost anywhere in Central and South America. If you prefer French, head to France. If you like Swahili, head to Tanzania. You get the point.
If you only have a certain time of year to go somewhere, you may want to base it around weather or events. For example, Canada is freezing during the winter months so unless you’re passionate about skiing or snow, this is probably not the best time to go. With tropical countries, you may want to avoid their hurricane season. On the other hand, you may want to avoid peak seasons due to high prices and flocks of tourists.
If all of this sounds like a lot of work, trust me – it’s not. If all else fails, just say the first country that comes to your mind and go there. Try not to worry about anything. Just make a plan and make it happen. If you’re after a true adventure, the destination won’t matter that much. It’ll be all about the journey.
Photography and Views
I’ve wanted to visit a lot of places because of beautiful pictures I’ve seen, both online and offline. You can find stunning travel photography by looking in Google Images, Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr and in many different travel photo books and magazines. In fact, if you’re on Instagram, stop by and say hi. You can find me and my travel photography at www.Instagram.com/MatthewGBailey
Download the Skyscanner app or visit Skyscanner.com, choose your departure city, and then choose “everywhere” for your destination. Search dates for the entire month and see what the cheapest options are. If a random destination intrigues you, pack your bags.
Pack enough for your desired trip and go to the airport. Ask the agent to book you a flight somewhere fun and interesting with a maximum ticket price you’re comfortable with. Have them book it and give you the flight number but don’t look at the actual destination until you’re beyond the security gate.
Big thanks to Steven Li of www.stevenliphotography.com for his ideas of Airport Roulette and Flight Roulette.