Where To Go...

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

I'm going to have a couple of weeks to go on a vacation in about a month and I still haven't figured out where to go yet. A couple years ago I went to Costa Rica and although I got to see that it was a beautiful country, a lot of my time got sucked away because I didn't realize how long it was going to take me to get to my destination. Last October I went to Hawaii and although once again I got to see a lot of things I have never seen before, I felt like it could have been better.

I have a couple of places in mind as to where I want to go this year, but I'm also a little discouraged that after having spent a good amount of time and money and at the end of my trip that I'm not quite happy with experiences so far. Is there a good way to figure out how to get to places in other countries, where to find buses, trains, things like that, and be able to calculate out how long it will take out of my day? A lot of photos I've seen online look amazing, but then when you get to those places you realize that it's more of a tourist trap, it's crowded, so it sort of sucks the fun out of it.

Been thinking about going to Germany or Norway, but maybe South America Peru or places around South America... I could probably do a little hiking, am scuba certified... Although I could probably spring for a resort or something of that nature, my goal is to be able to explore on my own, meet some cool people, and have a good understanding of what my next move needs to be. I understand you need money to travel, but why spend more than you have to if you can find a good place to eat and sleep, doesn't have to be a 5 star hotel...

2. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 1165 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Yep that's the reality of travel - it's a gritty world that's slow to travel, the popular sights are full of crowds, and it's sometimes difficult.

I think it's helpful to separate the ideas of "holiday" and "travel", and to go about either with a clear idea of your purpose. Relaxing in a resort is a holiday or vacation, with an industry set up to take your money in exchange for making it easier and maybe rewarding. Travelling independently will perhaps be cheaper but certainly harder, it'll let you realise goals, see what the world is like beyond a package trip, and grow you a little.

Rome2rio and Google maps are useful in figuring out the options for travel times. Guide articles on this site and on Wikivoyage will often tell you of good ways to get to places. Stay in hostels to meet like-minded travellers and to stretch your budget.

Germany and Norway are expensive destinations. Nowray is very rewarding but in mid October you risk poor weather. Peru would be far cheaper, give you less jetlag, and has more of an established backpacker circuit.

Good luck and welcome to the forum. :)

3. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5274 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

In a way, travelling is like many other activities: You get better at it, the more you do it.

You learn how to (not) plan your days, you learn to more effectively pack (both in total, and each morning when you move on), you learn when to book things in advance and when to trust that you'll just be able to sort it all out on the go (there's no absolute truth for these, but certainly strong preferences for one or the other for individual people), and most importantly, you learn what pace is sustainable and enjoyable for you.

Longer trips with fewer destinations might take the sting out of the time sink of just getting places. You might feel that you get to see "less", but most people would have their eyes open for just as long, so you can instead feel that you just see things more in depth, and truly get to know a place, rather than just having a superficial impression of it. Also, on the practicality of getting places and how to know about all the details, bringing and extensively perusing a recent lonely planet guidebook for your target destination is still justly popular for this purpose.

Anyway, you seem to mostly have useful attitudes for travelling. Don't be too disheartened by a few less than perfect experiences; one the one hand that's simply the reality of things that need to be adjusted to, but on the other hand, that also gets better with experience. The more you travel, the more you'll learn your favorite travel style, and the more enjoyable the whole process will become. :)

Oh, and agreed with what Andy said on Peru and Norway. Peru is king of inefficiency in transport, though, so I'd personally probably recommend Germany. There's numerous really nice hiking destinations there. Highlighting just two, I'd recommend the far southeast (Saxon Switzerland), which has gorgeous mossy gullies leading up to the tops of numerous sandstone mountains. Can be easily combined with Dresden / Leipzig / Berlin, though you'd need to rent a car for getting around while in Saxon Switzerland. Extra benefit: though the cities aren't "cheap", Saxon Switzerland at least is the nearest thing to cheap you'll find in Germany. Alternatively, if going for efficiency of transport, consider the Rhine valley with its numerous castles. You could for example combine Cologne and Bonn (both well worth a visit) with hiking into the hills using Bad Honnef or Königswinter as a base of operations. Not the most... "happening" places, but plenty of restaurants to choose from, and excellent S-bahn connection from there to Bonn.

[ Edit: Edited on 17-Sep-2017, at 02:12 by Sander ]

4. Posted by Andrew Mack (Respected Member 355 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

I can't add much to this thread except to add that Germany and Norway (Especially) in October can get very cold. So you'll need to carry more cold weather gear.

5. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1047 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Since you live in Indiana, you can easily fly from Chicago to Tokyo for about the same price as to cities in Europe. Fall is beautiful in Japan, one of the easiest places to travel in (I was there recently and was amazed). Japan is affordable, transportation is efficient, people are polite, and there is lots to see and do. Language should not be a barrier. You'll get to where you want to go because in many places there are signs and announcements in English as well as Japanese and Mandarin. I roamed from Hokkaido to Okinawa, thoroughly enjoyed it; and plan to return.

6. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 2056 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

"Is there a good way to figure out how to get to places in other countries, where to find buses, trains, things like that, and be able to calculate out how long it will take out of my day?"


You can do a Google search with your computer and see what comes up. Sample Google search for San Jose to Samara and bus stations.

From the US I always stick with major airlines. Same airline company from when I leave home to return home. Since I fly a lot I use the same company and accrue Frequent Flier miles and status for free lounge, better seats, etc. With mixed airlines, to save a buck here and there, if your flight is late and you miss a connection - the replacement flight is your problem! But with the same company from initial departure to final arrival if their connecting airline is late the airline takes care of your re-booking for you. For example, many airlines fly to Asia from the US. I deal directly through the airline website. I personally don't use discounters but that is me!

Buses usually start from bus stations - so always locate the bus stations. Likewise trains usually begin from train stations. So first find the station you need! (Man in Seat 61 has a lot of info for trains in many countries.)

Some travel guides include some information for transportation. Lonely Planet Travel Guide can be helpful. In the US you can check out travel guides for free from local libraries too. Good old fashioned printed guides can still be useful for research and basic information.

I think Asia will be a good change. My suggestion is Thailand. Good long distant trains and buses. Major cities have buses and other local transportation. Bangkok, besides taxis, buses, tuktuks and motorcycle taxis also has a good city rail system. Train available from the main Suvarnabhumi Airport to the city area too if between 6 am and midnight

For a trip to Thailand you work up a daily budget after paying for your round trip plane tickets to Bangkok and return home. No secret how to get around in Thailand. Everything is out there on the web. This forum has a link for Thailand and other countries.

If you do choose Thailand for a short visit try to include Chiang Mai (Northern Thailand,) a beach area of your choice, and Bangkok of course. Bangkok has 2 airports. In Thailand some discount airlines also available. If you need hotel advice you can ask! But for big cities you do some research for what part of the city you want a hotel located. Also how much you want to spend on your room. Use local currency for the price range. No visa required with US passport and stay less than 30 days. This free Visa Exemption requires a verifiable flight out of the country within 30 days.

Thailand gets all sorts of visitors - luxury tourists, cheapie tourists like me and many young backpacker type tourists. Something for just about everyone! Very tourist friendly! Lots of information for this country out on the web and even in bookstores and libraries.

The more you travel the easier it gets. At least that is what I have found. (Especially when you use your screw ups as a "teaching moment" and not repeat them!)

For every country investigate the weather available for the month you visit. For long distant flights from the US there is a cycle for ticket pricing. Leading up to Christmas to just after New Years holidays more expensive. Usually when the kids get out of school in June the cost of long distant flying to some countries is higher priced too until around September when the students return to school.

I can make more sense of my travel research when I use a regular computer compared to just using a phone or small tablet. Maybe because I am an old fart set in my ways!

For any country you visit always research how to get from airport to hotel or hostel. Always Google up scams to avoid for each country you visit. Forewarned is forearmed!

Up to you.

7. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5274 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Quoting Andrew Mack

I can't add much to this thread except to add that Germany and Norway (Especially) in October can get very cold. So you'll need to carry more cold weather gear.

No disagreement on Norway, but really, Germany in October is pretty much perfect for hiking (avg daytime temp of probably 15-ish degrees? maybe down to 10 by the far end of the month?), and not something I'd describe as "very cold" at all.

[ Edit: Edited on 17-Sep-2017, at 10:17 by Sander ]

8. Posted by Teoni (Respected Member 562 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

I've travelled to Norway in August and the north of the country was pretty chilly already, the south was alright but I wouldn't describe it as warm. I can only imagine October this would increase. The only place I've travelled to in October is Spain I found the weather favourable and being shoulder season prices were down. The Sierra Nevadas have some good hiking as does the Sierras de Tejeda and of course in the south of the country there are resorts to indulge in. While I can't say from personal experience about South America I have been recommended Argentina as a great destination in October. Apparently in Bariloche there are amazing wildflowers at this time, might be worth looking into:)

As for disappointment in travel I do think that is inevitable. With more experience you will get better at getting into the rythm of travel but there will always be something that you wish you'd done better. I think when you first think of travelling you have this amazing dream in your head of this incredible adventure but until you start travelling you don't realise there are a lot of things your dream didn't take into account and that can be profoundly disappointing. Over time I have found that I have become more desensitized to the disappointments and instead able to focus more on the things that did work out over the things that I missed out on and I think that is important. While it is good to learn from your mistakes I don't think you should end up dwelling on them too much

Post 9 was removed by a moderator
10. Posted by Andrew Mack (Respected Member 355 posts) 51w Star this if you like it!

Quoting Sander

No disagreement on Norway, but really, Germany in October is pretty much perfect for hiking (avg daytime temp of probably 15-ish degrees? maybe down to 10 by the far end of the month?), and not something I'd describe as "very cold" at all.

You're right that it should be 'OK', but I've been to Bavaria in October when it's been down in the single digits.