Although we are currently on an endless road trip around Australia, we still have to prioritize which places to visit.
Oz is a big country and it’s just not possible to see and do everything, so we have to think carefully about choosing our destinations.
What about you?
Do you have all your destinations for planned out, or do you need some suggestions on that? While we can’t decide for you, we can offer you some tips on how to decide and ask you some questions to help you get some clarity.
The short answer is there’s no single perfect answer, and it really depends on key factors like personal travel style, length of time you have available, and of course your finances.
Get all that figured out, and your options for where you can go on your travels are endless.
Where do you start?
With so much advertising shoved in our faces these days between print, TV and digital media all vying for our attention, deciding which travel destinations to visit can be overwhelming.
This can lead to procrastination and procrastination leads to you being the world’s best armchair traveler. I like this quote, not just in regards to travel, but life:
“Many things will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart…pursue those.” – Anonymous
When choosing your travel destinations, the following questions will help to narrow down your list and clear the confusion.
Why do you want to travel?
Seriously. WHY do you want to travel?
First knowing why you want to do anything is important. If your WHY is strong enough you’ll commit to it and make it happen.
For me, travel is more than checking things off my list. Sure it’s nice to get that photo of yourself in front of the Grand Canyon and post it on Facebook bragging to your friends, but is there something deeper you want to fulfill?
I don’t travel for the sake of traveling, especially now with two young kids because it’s certainly not always relaxing, often the complete opposite.
But travel has a deeper meaning for me and my WHY is big enough. In fact, the “y” part of yTravel Blog is all about our why for wanting to travel, and mostly that is because we believe in accumulating memories, not just possessions.
Value your hard earned dollars, and if you put more meaning to it you have a better chance of it being a memorable and rewarding experience.
Who are you traveling with?
Your destination choices can be affected dramatically by your traveling companions.
Our choices are slightly different now we have children. What about you? Will you be traveling solo, as a couple, or as a family?
Travel as a Family.
If you travel as a family, sit down with your whole family and discuss your ideas and interests. Memorable trips are those where each member of the family gets to experience something they love. Finding the balance between adult and kid stuff is important.
Travel as a couple.
If you travel as a couple, talk about your individual desires and expectations. Be clear on what you both want and make the decision that will suit both of you. But don’t leave it to one half of the relationship to always make the decision. Maybe you could simply take turns in choosing a destination each year?
Sharing a family moment on St Kilda Beach in Melbourne
What kind of trip did you have in mind?
A big part of your decision will come down to personal travel style, what do you like to experience, and what is your everyday life like?
Is your working and family life so hectic that you need a trip to relax, recharge and spend quality time with your family? Or, are you the type who can’t sit still for long, are wired for action and want to see and do as much as possible?
Personally, I like a balance between having some down time and exploring new things.
We’ll talk about the length of time you have and your finances in a minute, but first lets consider these questions:
Do you prefer:
- Adventure or relaxation?
- Cities or countryside?
- Beaches or mountains?
- Resorts or road trips?
- Festivals and cultural experiences?
- Shopping or food experiences?
- Luxury, mid-range, or budget?
Are you the person who likes to sit by the pool or at the beach all day with a book? Or would this bore you to death? By answering these questions you can narrow down your list.
Could you sit on a Thai beach all day?
How much time do you have?
If you only have 1-2 weeks of vacation time per year, you probably don’t want to waste too much of that time traveling to your destination. But if you have 2-4 weeks you can look at traveling a little further.
Below are some key points to keep in mind in regards to how much time you have:
Short (1-4 weeks):
- Have less time moving from A to B.
- Choose only 1 country or region.
- You’re more likely to spend more in order to save time.
- Tendency to stuff a lot of activities in, but be warned this can exhaust you.
- Know your purpose so you can choose activities to cater to this.
- May pack more and shopping could be more of a focus.
- More likely to visit those countries that are more expensive.
- More likely to have a rigid schedule with things booked in advance.
Long-term (4-8 weeks)
- Can allow more time for travel between destinations.
- Depending on length, can visit multiple regions/countries.
- Will sacrifice time in order to save money.
- Will need to be extra vigilant with budget and finding deals.
- Focus on packing light and embracing minimalism.
- More room for flexibility in your schedule.
- Volunteering work may be an option.
What is your budget?
You can pretty much find a match for your budget choices whatever travel destinations you choose.
However, it could change your ultimate decision as it might not be budget enough, particularly if you are traveling long-term when it’s best to stick to the cheaper regions!
Carefully consider the strength of the currency you are traveling on and what areas you can make your dollar travel further? What other currencies is it stronger against?
For Australians it might be considering a trip to south east Asia, the Pacific Islands or Africa. Or, if you love road trips and camping, it could mean staying in Australia instead of going abroad.
Think strategically about your options.
What else could you learn or experience? What are you passionate about?
- Skiing in New Zealand
- Scuba diving in south east Asia
- Massage in Thailand or China
- Trekking in the Himilayas
- Learning to surf in Australia
- Wildlife conservation in Africa
There are experiences and courses that can sometimes be best undertaken in a particular country. What do you want to learn and which country specializes in that?
What seasons do you like?
Many people travel for the seasons. Are you a summer or winter person?
For us it’s usually summer destinations. It just appeals to us as there is more you can do outdoors, most people appear happier when embraced by the sun, and you can travel lighter – trust me, when you have kids you will appreciate this.
So unless you are looking for winter activities, you are more likely following the sun too. This will often mean prices can be higher, except for those regions where it is always hot.
Consider the impact seasons have on what you do. You can waste a lot of money if you don’t get the timing right.
Can you travel in the off-season?
If you are fortunate enough to be flexible in when you can take your vacation time, good for you! Avoiding peak periods and traveling off-season is one of our best travel tips and you can save big bucks on flights, accommodation and activities.
Even if you have kids in school, consider traveling just outside of major school holiday periods to take advantage of the savings.
Fly where the deals are!
Instead of thinking too much about the location of your next travel destination, let the cheap flights make up your mind for you!
Think about using airfare sales to help determine the location of your family’s next vacation and month of departure, rather than the other way around.
Revisit Old vs. New Destinations?
I got asked this question the other day. Do we normally revisit the same destinations or try someplace new? If yes, why?
Well, if there is a particular experience or feeling we want to have, and we know where we can get that, we are more than happy to revisit places. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with revisiting places. The main thing is that you’re traveling and being true to yourself.
We often revisit the same destinations in south east Asia because that region ticks a lot of boxes for us: food, weather, beaches, culture, friendly people, distance from Australia, the price!
If you do revisit the same destinations, maybe consider doing it with a twist. Stay in a different neighborhood, eat at different restaurants, swim at a different beach, climb a different mountain, seek out new experiences.
Are you returning to the Grand Canyon? Try the north rim instead of the south. Go to Melbourne instead of Sydney, Chiang Mai instead of Bangkok.
Of course we have a never ending list of new places we want to visit, and hopefully we’ll get to most of them, but it’s about prioritizing and being realistic. If there’s a dream destination you really want to visit, maybe 2014 is the year to check it off the list
Hate travel planning and moving around?
Why not consider a cruise or all-inclusive resort.
With activities to appeal to every generation, food choices to suit all ages, and itineraries that can be action packed or you just sit around on your backside all day, cruises and all-inclusive resort stays can eliminate decision headaches.
You check in, drop your bags in your room, and then your biggest decision for the next week is what are you going to eat? Who couldn’t use a trip like that every once in a while?
As a busy family who usually moves around a lot and plans it all ourselves, we sure appreciate some trips where we do nothing but eat, drink and swim.
Enjoying the cruise life on Carnival Spirit
What about a Working Holiday?
If you’re considering longer term travel, maybe a working holiday is what you’re looking for?
It can give you the opportunity to experience a new culture, gain new skills, and it’s a great way to fund your travels for an extended stay.
By participating in a working holiday, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of the people and their day to day lives, you’ll get a real feel for the heartbeat of the country, and you’ll get out of your comfort zone by trying different and unusual jobs.
Travel in your own backyard
Is money and time an issue for you? Don’t underestimate the benefits of staying local and exploring your own backyard.
This strategy is one of the most overlooked and cheapest ways of having more travel in your life. Benefits of local travel include:
- Less Planning
- Less Packing
- Les Time Away
- No jet lag or burnout
- Usually cheaper
I recently published a post on how to travel in your own backyard which has suggestions and tips on how to make the most of this strategy. It’s an easy strategy to implement. Start by taking day trips, then short breaks. After a while you’ll be looking for bigger and longer adventures.