Winter has really arrived to Rijeka, with temperatures below zero and hurricane-like northern winds, which means that it’s the time of the year when my itchy feet itch the most. So as I simultaneously plan and daydream about my next travel destinations, let me share with you some tips that might help you decide where (and when) to travel next.
1 – First comes the budget
I am a type of traveler who has to start with a budget. Since I can’t splurge on traveling as much as I might like – because I also have to pay my bills, eat from time to time and survive until my next paycheck – money management is an important element of my travel plans. In my experience, a set budget will make traveling easier, more relaxed and put you in a frame of mind that you end up being grateful for, especially when you come back from your trip and have to go on with your everyday life. Yes, budgeting is not particularly fun, it can sometimes clip your wings and make you realize that a vacation you wanted is not possible (at a particular time), but putting expenses on paper can sometimes help you realize that you just might afford a trip when you maybe thought you couldn’t.
2 – How many days/weeks/months do you have at your disposal?
You won’t travel to another continent if you have 5 days off work. I mean, you can, but I don’t recommend it. Knowing how much time you have at your disposal will help you plan the trip accordingly and eliminate destinations that are too far and should be postponed for some other time.
3 – Getting there
Defining which type of transport you want to use or which one is the most convenient for you might steer destination picking in a particular direction (we are talking, of course, about those times when you don’t have a set destination and are trying to pick one on the basis of many variables, pros and cons). For example, flights operating from airports closest to your home may help you narrow down your options, train lines and connections from your country might make a certain destination stand out from the others. If you’re indecisive, any small thing might help you decide.
4 – What do you want to do?
This might be the easiest deciding point – simply think about what you want to do on your trip. If you want to spend your vacation relaxing, you might opt for a beach holiday or a spa weekend. If you want to get back to work even more tired than when you left and want to explore culture, art, architecture and history, you might choose some big historic city. Or maybe you want an active, nature-oriented vacation spent in the woods? Or you wish to eat good, authentic food and drink quality wine? Knowing what type of a trip you’d prefer at a certain point will make destination picking much easier.
5 – Special events and seasons
Is there a particular event happening somewhere in the world that you want to visit and maybe plan your trip around it? It can be a particular concert, exhibition, music or movie festival; you might want to see the Quatorze juillet parade on the Champs-Élysées or the Festival of Lights in Lyon or the carnival in Venice or any of the many wonderful events taking place all around the world. Maybe you wish to visit Rijeka in 2020, when my home town will be the European Capital of Culture? If you are indecisive, you can check out list of events for a particular country, region or even a continent and who knows, maybe one particular event will help you decide on the destination.
6 – Amazing deals as divine interventions
Have you found an amazing deal? If you have, forget everything I wrote and just take it. I like to think of amazing flight or accommodation deals that I come across as divine interventions. When the universe offers you a ridiculously cheap plane ticket and sends the offer to your e-mail, who are you to say no? You don’t have to know much about the destination, it doesn’t have to be on top of your travel lists: if it’s cheap, take it. The first time I chose a travel destination because of a cheap plane ticket, that divine intervention brought me to Malta, a country that I knew very little about and that didn’t attract me. Needless to say, once I went there, I fell completely and irretrievably in love with that island.
7 – Open your mind
You don’t have to go to the most popular places or the furthest places; your trip doesn’t have to be two months long to matter – sometimes, a weekend in the neighboring country or even in a nearby city (in your own country) can be a wonderful travel experience and give you just what you need.
8 – Stop reading, start traveling
Even if you don’t manage to plan a “perfect” vacation (due to budget restrictions or time that you have at your disposal), don’t give up. Opt for the “second best”, and you will soon realize that there is no such thing as “second best” in traveling – every place that you go to will have its own particular atmosphere, its charm, its stories to tell… And will give you a once-in-a-lifetime experience, fulfilling you in ways you may not have even thought were possible.