How do you choose your next destination for travel?

Travel Forums Introductions How do you choose your next destination for travel?

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11. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1600 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

When it comes to picking a destination, I sometimes respond when opportunity knocks. That was the case last January, when I decided to visit Patagonia instead of Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. I discovered that -- for $1,540 -- I could sail from Valparaiso, Chile, to the Falkland Islands and Buenos Aires, without paying a single supplement. The 14-day cruise, with an ocean-view cabin, followed much of the route taken by Magellan and Darwin. From Buenos Aires, I returned to Patagonia for two weeks of hiking before returning home.

Before joining the cruise, I flew from Santiago to La Paz, Bolivia; then traveled to the Salar de Uyuni and Chile's Atacama Desert (an encore visit).

I sometimes find inspiration from Web sites such as Atlas Obscura. In 2015, those sites led me to visit Indonesia's Mount Kelimutu, with its three lakes that change colors every so often. Kelimutu is on the island of Flores, which also is the jumping off point for visits to Rinca and Komodo islands, known for its dragons. Then it was down the chain of islands to Timor-Leste; and to western Australia. Looking at a map, and following airline routes, I then discovered that, for a reasonable price, I could get from Perth, Australia, to Beijing, where I caught the Trans-Mongolian Express to Moscow. One thing led to another, as you can see on my 2015 Travellerspoint map.

I also like to visit friends around the world; and when I do, I arrange trips to nearby destinations.

I find it important to explore options. For example, it's often expensive to fly from one African country to another, even if the countries are relatively close. It might be cheaper to take a detour to Europe first before returning to Africa. That's the reason I sandwiched a visit to Rome last November between trips to West and Central Africa.

12. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2840 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

I look at the map for inspiration, thinking of where I've not been and what may be similar to places I've liked. That starts me researching via the web.

Quite often I'll research a load of ideas before something fits together - in terms of time of year, budget, transportation between places being clear. Some ideas go on the back burner (Kamchatka and South America are there right now).

My other method is keeping an eye on cruise and ferry schedules, and budget flight routes, for inspiration. Along comes a new route, and I may well grab it - as in the case of the budget AirAsia X flights between London and KL a few years ago. They were unmissable bargains, so I built a few trips around them.

13. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1600 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

Kamchatka, what a pleasant surprise! I'm planning a trip there as part of a month in Siberia this summer.

I'm still firming my travel plans for 2017. The only thing booked so far is a three-week cruise in March with a friend who accompanied me last summer to the Himalayas. She and I will be visiting the eastern Caribbean, then crossing the Atlantic to the Canary Islands, Gibraltar, Marseille and Savona, Italy. We'll visit friends in Austria before traveling to Ukraine to visit her grandmother's village. The cruise cost US$1,769, so it was attractive.

On deck are trips to Nepal, India, Africa and South America. But I'm flexible, so I'm always looking.

14. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2840 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

I hope you'll update us on how your Kamchatka trip goes. It sounds like the perfect combination of volcanoes, hiking, glaciers, hot springs and helicopters for me, and would give me welcome practice in Russian, but I've not yet figured out what to see or how to do it without hemorrhaging large amounts of money. Must you take a tour or is it practical independently?

This is a low budget year due to being 2 years into setting up a business, so my trips are a city break to Riga, a week in the Highlands, and the Canadian Rockies is the extravagance.

15. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1600 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

It's difficult to do independently as there are few roads. Most trips involve camping and much hiking. As such, costs are surprisingly reasonable.

If you're going to Canada, consider taking the rail from Winnipeg to Churchill on Hudson Bay. I'm looking at doing that in the future, perhaps with friends from Calgary.

[ Edit: Edited on 31-Jan-2017, at 12:28 by berner256 ]

16. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1600 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

I know that some travelers eschew organized tours, but those tours can make sense particularly when traveling to difficult and perhaps remote destinations. I rue the day that I chose to travel independently in the somewhat lawless Afar region of Ethiopia. It would have been better to join one of the many tours offered from Mekele to the Danakil Depression. Ultimately, I had to pay bribes to corrupt officials and police who, among other things, threatened to jail my excellent driver. I previously had traveled with him throughout Ethiopia, including the areas bordering South Sudan. The cost of the bribes equaled the cost of one of the tours. Not only that, I was required to hire four armed soldiers to accompany me into the Depression, as well as a guide.

I looked into traveling independently in Papua New Guinea, but concluded that it was too expensive; and not as desirable as joining a tour. For example, arranging a canoe trip on the Sepik River would have been difficult on my own. One alternative was to stay at lodges and use private planes to get to them. But that's expensive. The tour was much more reasonable.

Some tours offer a better cultural experience. But not always. You have to choose carefully.

If traveling independently, it's sometimes to your advantage to bring somebody along to share costs and to help meet certain requirements. For example, in some regions of India it's difficult to get the necessary travel permits if you disclose you're traveling solo. It can be done with the help of locals. Even so, that can be problematic with the numerous checkpoints.

Whether traveling independently or with a tour, it's best to be prepared and keep your wits about you. I recently was detained on arrival at the Libreville, Gabon, airport, even though I had a valid five-year multiple-entry visa; and papers to verify that I was there for tourism. I was interrogated as to the reason I was visiting despite showing the evidence. Luckily, I had the phone number of the guide who was meeting me at the airport, so I told immigration officers to call him. He showed up and convinced them that I was indeed a tourist. My travel companion, from Germany, was similarly detained a day later.

We were aware of the tensions within Gabon; but that didn't deter us from going. I ultimately had a great time; and hope to return.

17. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2840 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

As well, tours can be a fun way to meet people. I find friendships firm up quickly and before you know it you're looking out for each other like family.

I dislike paying over the odds, and avoid tours which get you bogged down with often older people who like it safe and sanitised, but I've done a few tours aimed at backpackers and thoroughly enjoyed each one.

Being a bit older, I sometimes find younger travellers in hostels can tend to shut you out. Being on a tour throws you all together enough to get past that.

18. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1600 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

There are some excellent adventure tour companies, including some in the U.K., that work with local travel providers. If I've had a good experience with one, I might hire it again for a trip of my own.

My excellent guide in Papua New Guinea is based in Chamba, India. He's taken travelers to PNG for almost a decade. He also conducts tours to India, Nepal and Tibet for a large Canadian company. So I had him arrange a two-month trip to the Himalayas that I made last summer. We're working now on a visit to the Upper Mustang region of Nepal; and India's Odisha state.

It would be great to see more young people on trips to places that are off -- or far off -- the beaten path. Mostly, I find folks in their 40s, 50s, 60s and some 70s, many traveling solo. Some tours to more-popular destinations cater to the young; and have age limits. You'll see these -- many involve camping -- in southern Africa and East Africa, for example; but not so much in West and Central Africa.

[ Edit: Edited on 31-Jan-2017, at 16:45 by berner256 ]

19. Posted by tonilair (First Time Poster 1 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

I always choose my next destination based on culture. I believe that everything from architecture to food are around it, so I am sure if the country's culture I am going to visit is very appealing so is the flavors, the people and the atmosphere in general.

20. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1600 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

You're quite right. Culture is very important; and is perhaps the primary reason for traveling to destinations such as West Africa.