I didn’t always have a desire to travel. When I was younger trying to get by in college with little money, I didn’t understand the reason or meaning of travel when friends talked about it. Five years ago my dad took me to Taiwan, my parents’ native country, I fell in love with the culture and lifestyle there. I loved tasting various foods in each city, observing people’s interactions and listening to conversations. Now that I'm older with a steady job and have traveled to several countries ranging in Asia, South America and Europe, I have certainly caught the wanderlust bug and want to share with you some tips on how to choose your next destination!
1. Determine Your Budget
Now that you have made the decision to travel, check your finances and figure out how much you can afford for your trip. This will help you determine where to go and for how long.
2. Choose a destination
When it comes to thinking about where you want to go, how do you get started? For me, I love being outdoors in nature and indulging in food, so the first thing I do is narrow down my research to the places I want to see and food I want to eat. Think about what you’re interested in – is it nature, multi-day treks, the city, the best restaurants in the world, learning about a specific history or a desire to eat a country’s food? I had a friend in college who wanted to study abroad years ago. She spun a globe with her eyes closed and decided that wherever her finger landed, she was going. She did it, Barbados for six months! If you are as adventurous and spontaneous as she is, go for it and spin that globe!
3. Decide how long you will stay
For some people, choosing and committing to dates is the hardest part of planning travel. I would recommend making it a priority to figure out exactly how many vacation days you are able to take and from there, narrow down the top three to five countries and/or cities that you would like to see.
4. How many places would you like to visit?
Based on your budget and the length of time you plan to getaway, you can plan how many places you would like to see. Some people enjoy being on the go and seeing multiple countries in one trip. After trying both, I realized I personally enjoy getting to know one country, the languages and dialects, trying foods in different regions, and seeing what each city has to offer. One of my favorite trips to date has been Peru. I spent 18 days there and was able to see its extremely diverse geography, from the capital city by the coast and the mountains of Cuzco to the Amazon rainforest and desert sand dunes in Ica.
5. Purchasing your flights, hotels and packages
I suggest booking flights and hotels three to six months out. Consider travel deals or packages to save money and time, or if you are willing to put in the time to research, you can book everything separately and still be able to save some money. Websites such as Kayak.com, Expedia.com and Travelocity.com offer bigger discounts to those who bundle their travel arrangements into one package; however, the downside to it is that you do not always get to choose the airline, the hotel, what time you fly out, or how long your layover is. I personally enjoy researching the cities and countries I plan to visit. It gives me an opportunity to be in complete control of which airlines I want to fly with at specific times and how long my layover will be – whether it is a few hours or a whole day.
Now the hard part – the waiting game! It is the best feeling to have something to look forward to, especially when you are visiting some place new.
The meaning of travel is different for everyone. For some, it is crossing a destination off a bucket list. For me, it is about immersing myself in another country’s culture through learning the basics of the language to eating the local foods. Every experience can be a life changing one if you want it to be, and… if you let it be.