If you have a serious case of wanderlust with a bucket list that's pages long, you're like many others who love to travel. There are so many places to see in the world and it can be tough to narrow it down to your next must-go-to destination, especially when your growing travel list becomes overwhelming. If you are having trouble deciding which place you should visit next, it helps to break it down into steps. Once you've figured out where you want to go, you can actually begin the planning process.
Starting with a destination in mind will get the ball rolling so your dream trip isn't an idea that seems far away...it becomes a plan that's happening in the near future.
1. Make a list of the top 5 destinations you want to visit most
Don't think about money, time, or anything else that might hold you back. Paris? Buenos Aires? ...A remote, nomadic village in Mongolia? ...A research base in Antarctica? Other than passport/visa restrictions, no place is off-limits at this point.
2. For each destination, list 1-2 reasons why you want to go there
What makes you excited about this particular place? Is it the opportunity to see friends or family? To take a relaxing break from the stresses of everyday life? To work or volunteer? To meet people from other cultures? To seek adventure? To find yourself?
3. Then, list the number one activity you want to do while you're in each destination
If you were only at these places for a day each, what is the one thing you'd have to do? This could be taking a tango lesson in Argentina. Or drinking wine in Tuscany. Or volunteering at a local school in Nicaragua. Or surfing in Australia. Write out your "must-do" activity for each destination on your list. Now that you've defined some reasons for why you want to go to your top destinations as well as some things you'd do, it's time to narrow down the list.
4. Remove a destination from the list
While they all sound exciting, deep down you know which one you prefer less than the others. It doesn't mean you'll never make it there. Removing one location will get you closer to your decision, and ultimately, your trip. You should now have four locations on the list.
5. Do some quick, surface research for each location. Find out:
- When peak travel season is as well as the shoulder season
- Average cost of roundtrip flights from your home city to each destination
- What the visa process is and if you need to apply or pay for one
- The currency conversion rate of the location to your home/general consensus if it is expensive or inexpensive
- Cost (if any) of your top, number one activity from Step 3
6. Duke it out, bracket style
Write out the first two destinations on your list in a column on one side and the other two on the other side. After having considered the factors from your research - as well as listening to your gut feeling - choose only one from each column as the winner. Then, have the winners on each column battle it out for number one. Choose the winner based on your gut feeling, deep down, where you see yourself most. Then...
7. Yeah! You've chosen where to go! Now comes the fun part: planning
Is your chosen destination seemingly expensive, time consuming, or has some other factor that feels overwhelming? Don't give up yet! You generally have an idea of what the trip will cost and when most people go. Look into many ways to budget travel and see which time fits best with your schedule. Also, decide when to go. If you can't make a finalized decision yet, start with "this year" or "next year" AND choose the month. Saying "Oh, I guess I'll go to Marrakech next year" isn't a very motivating goal, but "I'm going to Marrakech this September" is. This ensures you have a time frame to start out with which will help you research and plan. It's okay if it changes later on. Get my free worksheet!
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