Have you traveled before? How long are you planning to go, what do you want to do? So many questions with answers to come, whether before or during your trip.
I have traveled to about 45 countries ( I think that’s the count so far) and I have learned a thing or two when it comes to preparing and deciding where to go. I thought this post could be focused around what has worked best for me when it comes to deciding where to explore, discover and enjoy internationally. Here are some of my personal tips when it comes to deciding where in this beautiful world to travel to.
1. Don’t set too many expectations
When deciding to travel abroad and if you’re a first timer, you’re probably having loads of thoughts and things to expect when you get to that country. While there are things that are certain, such as the Colosseum in Rome is still in the same place and cheese in France is still stinky, there are many things you will encounter that you just cannot foresee. It’s a beautiful thing to not know everything you are going to do and experience. Keep an open agenda when you will travel and you will have an amazing fruitful experience.
One can plan a trip making bookings for everything from restaurants, museums, sights and nightlife. If you have a short trip and you want to “pack” it all in, go ahead, but I used to do this a bit and while it is fun at first, it will be even more rewarding if you allow to the trip to “give itself to you.” You may meet someone, make friends with other travelers who invite you to go with them to a secret beach town, or a festival is happening somewhere that you had no idea was happening prior.
If you need to make extensive plans, because that’s just your personality, then do it, but allow to be flexible for the “unexpected” to happen and allow the trip to evolve. It will be wonderful.
Once I was in a Tibetan/Nepalese shop here in Seattle, where I live, and I got chatting with the owner of the store, who was a seasoned traveler, having gone back and forth from the Himalayas most of his life. He told me a quote that has stayed with me since that conversation and that is: “Time is currency.”
It’s true, when traveling, if you have money, you probably don’t have that much time, and if you have time, you probably don’t have that much money. It can be one or the other commonly with the traveler. Determining how much “time” you have for a trip or journey will influence where you go.
Of course you can travel anywhere in the world for however long, but some places deserve more time so you can experience and soak it all in. Places like India, Africa or South East Asia should be experienced in more than a couple of weeks, while places in Europe, the Caribbean or Central America may not deserve as much time. The farther you are traveling, the more time you should probably commit to your journey.
So decide the time frame. Two weeks, three weeks, three months, one year, or just a long weekend. One you have figured a basic idea of the time, you can think about where you want to begin your international travel.
I have found that taking some time to contemplate, whether it be in a place of nature, a walk, a coffee shop or somewhere in solitude will help in determining where to go.
How good are your geography skills? Are you familiar with many regions of the world and all they have to offer? If you don’t, going to your local library or bookstore and exploring the many travel guide books may help. Look at a world map for a little bit, read up on some potential places and then find a relaxing spot and dream away….Where to go…Where to go…
Sometimes for me, I take months thinking, and sometimes, it just hits me and I know right away where I am supposed to go. Try to follow your heart’s instincts and it will be great.
Rick Steves, a well-known travel writer, recommends going to places that will challenge you the most. I would have to agree with Rick on this. Travel will ultimately make you grow and learn about the world around you, so if you’re up for it, think about places that will be great and also challenging. Stepping out of your “comfort zone” and “shattering the box” will give you many rewards in the long run. But don’t let me influence you… 😉
4. Once you have picked a country, do some research!
So you have picked a country or countries, and are excited to be going! Now for some homework. First, do you have a passport? Can you travel to that country? Does it require a visa? Where are the cheapest flights? These are some basic questions one should ask once after deciding, (unless you already factored these into your decision process already).
“What is the culture like? What is the history? How is transportation? Where should I stay?” More questions to ask. Go to the library and check out the guidebook on the country. Or if you’re a seasoned traveler, just go, you know you can get around and people are generally helpful most places in the world.
What language is spoken in the country is an important one to know about and it will be helpful to know how much of the language is needed to move around. If you are an English speaker, you generally can get around, but don’t always count on this to help you out. Learn the language, or buy a phrasebook. Learning the phrases will open countless doors to otherwise unexpected opportunities to fellowship with local people.
Doing some research may change up your travel destinations and you will learn of various places you want to check out.
5. “Is there peace in my heart about it?”
Do you feel this is the place for you to go? Ask yourself that question again and follow your intuition. You know what will be good for you.
There are so many places to explore and discover, things to eat and drink, people to laugh and smile with, stories to be heard and stories to be told and moments where you say to yourself “This is amazing.”