How I Choose Where To Travel Next

So, Aaren, you have an entire map of the world in your hands… How the hell did you decide on Iceland, The Philippines, Scotland, Indonesia, Utah, and Japan?

“How do you decide where to travel to next?”

While my intuition plays an enormous role in the places I choose to travel to, my budget, preferred weather, and how long I have to travel also play a huge role in when I leave. I tend to go through the same motions to round up the countries that I want to visit using the steps listed below, and then from there, my intuition guides me. I believe that these steps that I use will also help you decide on the places that you want to go since it can get incredibly overwhelming. If you’re sitting on savings and scratching your head looking at Google Maps, I got you. This is everything I do to choose where to travel to next!

This post may contain affiliate links for the products I mentioned, but as always, all opinions are my own. I make a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase or booking through these links. This helps to support this space and keep me blogging, which I am so extremely thankful for.

Planning an adventure? Check out these other awesome resources!

 


 

 

Gather + Write Out The Logistics

Unless you’re growing a money tree or have father time in your favor, you need to think of or write down some simple guidelines before you start selecting potential countries/areas. These questions will really help you sift through countries very quickly since it will give you very specific information that is only exclusive to certain places for certain times of the year. I like to keep it quite simple and answer these six questions before I begin my search:

 

How far away is this trip? Six months? A year?

Generally, I start looking at places around the six months or even a year mark, sometimes earlier if I am feeling spontaneous! I really like to dive in and get really detailed about my trip planning, but there are some people that will book a flight two weeks before they leave. All the power to people that do that, but there can be a whole lot of complications with doing that: weather, high prices, closures, ticket sell-outs, etc.. If you’re thorough and know roughly when you want to leave, you can plan a solid trip AND save a bit of money since you have your gameplan far in advance. However, this timestamp might change if you find out the weather is bad during the month(s) you choose or if it’s cheaper to wait a little longer or leave earlier. Most of this is subject to change, but give yourself a general starting point.

 

Ex. | I want to travel in the fall (primarily October) of 2020.

 

What is your travel style? What is your travel budget? + How you can determine your own.

You NEED to know your travel style before you write your travel budget. If it’s your first big trip, you might find out as your traveling as I have, but knowing this will help you stay comfortable during your trip, stay in budget, and most importantly, have fun. I consider myself an ‘average’ traveler, meaning that I want to have baseline necessities and some room to spend a little bit more on excursions. I don’t travel on a shoestring budget or a luxury budget, just somewhere in between the two. If you don’t know your travel style, I recommend starting out with a budget of $50/day and then adding a little bit more to that so you have a cushion. To me, this is a pretty standard budget that can get you traveling A LOT of places. This number will fluctuate with different destinations or if you’re traveling with another person, but it is 100% possible in most destinations around the world. From there, you can add or subtract this depending on different excursions, accommodation costs, and other logistics. So, start at $50 and let these examples give you a better idea of what that can look like depending on where you decide to go.

  • In places like Southeast Asia, you can get a room in a basic hostel for around $8-$10/night and meals from street vendors for $1-$3. $50/day puts you in a really good place and you may end up only spending $30/day!
  • In more costly countries like Iceland, your trip cost is going to be a whole lot more than $50/day since most Airbnb’s are over $60/night and car rentals are around $80-$200/day. You’re going to really struggle traveling the country with only $50/day. You can peep into my total Iceland trip cost here and see how much I spent in only two weeks with my travel style.

Ex. | I have an average travel budget of $50/day.

 

If you have a set amount of money, find out how long you want to travel for, then divide the amount of money by those days to get your daily travel budget.

Ex. | I have $4500 saved for travel and I want to travel for 5 weeks, so I have (or have up to) $128/day to spend on my trip.

 

How long do you want/have to travel for?

This can alter your travel plans or your budget depending on how long you want to travel for and how much money you have saved. Some people can spend $10,000 on a two-week trip while others travel the world for a year on $12,000. It all depends on where you want your money to go. I like to spend at least two weeks in an (international) country no matter what, maybe even up to a month if I am traveling to Asia since the flights are more expensive and the destination is further away. It would be silly to spend a lot of money to get to Asia and only have a week to spare, in my opinion. I prefer slower travel and to take my time in the countries I am in, so I tend to spend 3-4 weeks in certain places. This really depends on person to person and how much you want to see, so you might want to base it off how much you have to spend and what you’d like your daily budget to be.

Ex. | I want to travel for 5 weeks in the fall (preferably October) of 2020. I am comfortable spending $50/day, so, logistically I have $1750, but I will save $2000.

 

What type of weather/climate do you prefer?

The weather determines my trip around 99% of the time. It might be kinda weird, it might be kinda not, but I am actually starting to be more flexible with my travel days! Do you want to be warm? Do you want to experience snow-covered landscapes? If you’re traveling during the summer, you might want to book a trip that gives you all the summer vibes. If you’re traveling at the end of summer, you might be sick of the heat and want a beautiful fall destination. Choose your preference for weather and keep it with the rest of these logistics.

Ex. | I want dry, warm-hot weather.

 

Are there any particular activities you want to do?

Skiing? Diving? Free Diving? Snowboarding? Hiking? Wildlife Excursions? Write it down! Most of the time, excursions are going to add to your travel budget, so keep that in mind!

Ex. | I want to go hiking and experience wildlife!

 

 

After Gathering This Information, whip out that good ol’ bucket list, map of yours, and Google.

 

Use these Google Search terms to find countries that fit with your logistics:

  • “When is the best time to visit *country*”
  • “Best countries for budget travelers or *type of traveler or experience*”
  • “Best countries to visit in *month/season of the year*
  • “Best places to visit in *year*”

 

Highlight, bold, or underline countries that align with when you want to be there, your budget, and the weather and activities you prefer. Also, keep these things in mind:

 

How difficult is the country to travel?

Before you begin your planning frenzy, remember that some places are a lot harder to travel than others! Although most countries have heavy tourism so inner-country travel tends to be relatively stress-free, but there are some places that get a little difficult to travel. This may be from low tourism, remote areas, and other factors that add a little bit more to the planning process. For example, India. For some people, India is a place for experienced travelers. Not because it’s remote of transportation is scare, but because the country can be absolute sensory overload. On the other side of the coin, there are some people that dive all into India for their very first trip and LOVE it. In general, most well-known countries you’ll be fine in, but if you’re looking into some places in Africa, Oceania, Eastern Europe and remote parts of anywhere around the world, research how to get around, how much it costs to get around, and what the ease of travel is. You may end up accepting a challenge or deciding on another place!

 

What season will that country be in when you plan to arrive? Rainy/Dry? High/Low?

Some people aren’t bothered too much by weather or high tourism seasons, but you still want to look this over so you pack the right gear, clothing, and budget the right amount of money. Most of the time, high season is going to be more expensive to travel since the demand for travel is ‘higher’, duh, and then the low season’s prices tend to be cheaper with fewer crowds, but the weather may not be as good. A good rule of thumb is that low season tends to be the rainy season and high season has the driest weather.

 

  • High Season = High Prices / Good Weather
  • Low Season = Low Prices / Possibly Poor Weather
  • Shoulder Season (in between low and high seasons)= Generally the Goldilocks zone

 

How far away is said country?

Is the said country a stone’s throw away or do you need to get on a plane, boat, shuttle, and many other forms of transport to get there? If you’re coming from North America like I am, planning a five day trip to Asia doesn’t make any sense because it takes so long to get over there, not to mention the time difference and transit times getting to and from the continent. Now, I can plan a five day trip to another state if I wanted to, and that makes a lot of sense since I can get there quickly because most cities are best explored in five days. Basically, the shorter the trip, the closer you want the destination to be, but if you’re going to be gone for a long time, then you can mix and match depending on where you want to go since you have a lot more time. As I said before, I like to be anywhere at least two weeks, but I know that not everyone has that kind of time, so this is a good guideline to consider.

 

What will you be immersed in? The tropics? Cities?

This isn’t so much a guideline, but maybe more so something to consider when you’re planning trips in advance. If you’ve been bearing a frigid winter in the middle of a huge city all winter, once spring rolls around, you might want to be immersed in nature and sunshine and get more rugged. On the other side, if you live somewhere really REALLY hot, you might want to experience a cooler place like Iceland, other Nordic countries, or winter in a new place! Keep these points in mind whenever you’re planning!

 

Are there any incredible flight deals right now?

Okay, so, you might be deep into planning, when all of a sudden… What’s that? Flights into Athens, Greece are $300 RT for peak season? STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING. Ask yourself, wait a minute, do I want to visit Greece instead? There are incredible flight deals all around the world ALL the time, so you’ll want to stay up to date with them as you go through the planning process. They may change your entire trip! For all the best deals (no affiliation) I use Scott’s Cheap Flights! It’s $40/year for the premium membership and you set it up to receive all the flight deal notifications out of your home airport(s)! Right now, these are the current ones that I’ve seen:

  • *nonstop* Chicago – Jordan ($639 RT)
  • *nonstop* LAX – Beijing ($305 RT)
  • DFW – Europe + Northern Africa ($400s-$500s RT)

If you spot a deal like that, that speaks to you or is just downright too good to pass up, you might want to reconsider your trip, or book two trips at once!

 

What will your money get you?

I like to travel places where my money goes far, i.e. Southeast Asia, South America, and other cheap destinations around the world. I was chatting with one of my friends about taking a 3-week trip around the mainland Japan and saving around $5000 for it vs. backpacking for 3-months in Southeast for around the same price, maybe even cheaper. Our money goes further in most Asian countries since the US Dollar is strong over there. Research what things cost in the place you want to travel to and you might consider spending a longer amount of time somewhere else.

 

 

If you’re not sure about the logistics of certain countries/regions, here is a rough guideline:

* All estimated flight costs are the price of traveling FROM the United States to these places and all currency is in USD*

*Always do research for the current weather, safety, and pricing for your specific country – as i said, this is a rough outline to give you an idea*

 

I used the Budget My Trip website to help get rough estimates of prices. Some people will spend a whole lot less and some people will spend a whole lot more. Some of these numbers are broad since I haven’t traveled to every single country and region on this list, so please use the reference above and do further research. Use the $50/Day guideline that I mentioned before and use that to gauge how expensive/cheap some places are on this list. Every country is different, but some regions tend to have similarities, so that’s why I have grouped them up as I have.

 

North America

Ex. | Canada / The US

 

Average Cost Per Day | $80-200 USD

Ease of Travel | Moderate – Difficult once you leave major cities

Method of Transport | Car Rental / Bus / Train

Average Flight Cost | $120-500 USD RT

Mexico + Central America

Ex. | Panama / Belize / Costa Rica

 

Average Cost Per Day | $20-50 USD

Ease of Travel | Moderate

Method of Transport | Rental Car / Bus / Taxi

Average Flight Cost | $500-$700

 


 

The Caribbean

Ex. | The Bahamas / Cuba / Puerto Rico

 

Average Cost Per Day | $30-$50+

Ease of Travel | Easy – Moderate

Method of Transport | Boats / Buses / Taxis / Ferries / Drivers / Rental Cars

Average Flight Cost | $400-700

South America

Ex. | Peru / Argentina / Brazil

 

Average Cost Per Day | $30-45

Ease of Travel | Moderate

Method of Transport | Bus / Train / Plane / Driver

Average Flight Cost | $700+

 


 

Nordic / Coastal Europe

Ex. | Iceland / UK / Norway

 

Average Cost Per Day | $80-$100+ / Day

Ease of Travel | Easy – Moderate

Method of Transport | Car Rental / Bus / Taxi / Driver

Average Flight Cost | $800+

Western Europe

Ex. | France / Spain / Italy

 

Average Cost Per Day | $60-$100 / Day

Ease of Travel | Easy

Method of Transport | Bus / Train / Car Rental / Driver / Plane

Average Flight Cost | $700+

 


 

Eastern Europe

Ex. | Romania / Bulgaria / Georgia

 

Average Cost Per Day | $30 – $70 / Day

Ease of Travel | Easy – Moderate

Method of Transport | Train / Bus / Car Rental

Average Flight Cost | $800+

Northern Africa

Ex. | Morocco / Egypt / Algeria

 

Average Cost Per Day | $25 – $30 / Day

Ease of Travel | Moderate

Method of Transport | Bus / Train / Van / Taxi

Average Flight Cost | $1200+ USD

 


 

Southern Africa

Ex. | South Africa / Namibia / Kenya

 

Average Cost Per Day | $50-$100

Ease of Travel | Moderate

Method of Transport | Rental Cars / Tours / Buses / Taxis / Vans

Average Flight Cost | $1200+ USD

Middle East

Ex. | Iran / Jordan / Dubai

 

Average Cost Per Day | $40-70 USD

Ease of Travel | Moderate

Method of Transport | Rental Car / Bus / Taxi

Average Flight Cost | $900+

 


 

East + Central Asia

Ex. | Japan / China / Mongolia

 

Average Cost Per Day | $50-$120

Ease of Travel | Easy – Moderate

Method of Transport | Rental Car / Bus / Train / Taxi

Average Flight Cost | $700+

Southeast Asia

Ex. | Thailand / Cambodia / Laos

 

Average Cost Per Day | $30 / Day

Ease of Travel | Easy

Method of Transport | Buses / Trains / + Country Specific Transport (i.e. Tuk Tuk’s in Thailand)

Average Flight Cost | $600+

 


 

Oceania

Ex. | Australia / New Zealand / Tasmania

 

Average Cost Per Day | $80-$200 USD

Ease of Travel | Moderate

Method of Transport | Rental Car / Campervan / Taxi / Bus

Average Flight Cost | $1000+ USD

Antarctica

Ex. | The whole continent

 

Average Cost Per Day | $500+

Ease of Travel | Very Difficult

Method of Transport | Cruise Ship

Average Flight Cost | N/A (there are no flights to Antarctica unless booked with a private company ($$$$)

 


 

 

After you’ve rounded up your destinations… ask yourself these questions.

 

“Do I feel pulled to be at this destination?”
“What feels right?”
“Am I only traveling because I feel like I have to?”

With all the travel influencers these days waving around their expensive Greece villas and summers in Europe, you may feel like you’re seriously missing out on what life has to offer. While this is entirely valid and often something I experience myself, you still need to stay true to yourself and what you feel like you need out of life at this moment. As much as I love solitude and being in a place where no one knows my name, it has not once been the answer to all my problems. Your problems are going to follow you into the jungles of Asia or on that safari in Kenya, no matter what. If it doesn’t feel right to be traveling or booking a trip, then don’t. All of the answers that you might be looking for are within yourself. That’s not to say that you won’t find those answers when/if you go away, but it’s always something to keep in mind while traveling.

 

After giving these questions some thought, use these steps to find your final destination(s):

It should be quite narrowed down already, but if you’re still having trouble, here’s what I do.

  • Use Pinterest to gather visual inspiration.
  • Look up the best things to do in the country.
  • Lay it all out, leave it for a few days, and then come back with a fresh perspective.
  • Read blog posts about the country via my website or other travel blogs.
  • Flip a coin?
  • Have more tips? Share with me in the comments!

 


 

What steps do you take to plan your trips? Let me know in the comments below!

Aaren

 

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Deciding where to travel next can be quite a task when you have an entire map in your hands! But fear not! With this guide, you’ll be booking and planning your next trip in no time! I have laid out my personal steps to planning a trip and how you can find the perfect destination! #wheretotravelnext

Deciding where to travel next can be quite a task when you have an entire map in your hands! But fear not! With this guide, you’ll be booking and planning your next trip in no time! I have laid out my personal steps to planning a trip and how you can find the perfect destination! #wheretotravelnext

 

 

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