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Deciding on your next travel destination | nicolasdecorte.be

Deciding on your next travel destination


21 January 2010

Every traveler has some kind of list in his or her head with specific places they want to visit. Cuba while the embargo is still on, Iceland while it's still suffering from the crisis and everything is relatively cheap, the village of Corleone in Sicily - if that's also on your list, I can assure you that there's really nothing to do in that dust hole, walking the Inca trail in Peru, getting stoned in Amsterdam, go diving in the Great Barrier Reef, go fishing in Canada, celebrate carnival in Rio or walk around for a week in your naked butt at the Burning Man Festival.

Depending on the length of your list, sooner or later you'll get more or less through it. Now some of you will tell me that their list is updated constantly because of stories they've heard, people they've met or things they've seen on the Internet. But that's not what I'm talking about, right now it's about the things you really really really want to see. Of course I would like to go to Australia, but that's not on my "very important" list. If I'd be dying, I would probably not regret that I've never been to Australia. I'm talking the big stuff here, let's say the numbers one to five on your list, aight?

So you came to the end of your list, now what? Stop traveling, invest in a house with a garden and a bunch of children and live happily ever after? Of course not, the world is large and there are still hundreds of pretty places you can visit.
The problem is that in the past you had a small fixed list with destinations, and now you have a broad range of options. So which destination will we finally choose and how do we know that this is the best choice?

Another situation where you have to make this choice is when you're attracted to a certain area instead of a specific place. For example I am kind of attracted to Africa and I would like to go there one day. But I don't have a single clue which country I want to visit, and I can choose between 53 of them.

And yet another situation where you have to make these choices is when you're on an RTW trip, this might even be the worst case. Okay, you should be very happy that you have the time and the money to do such a trip, but there's always a limit. Even though you have a year and 25 000 euros to spend, you'll still have to make choices between where to go and where not. The fact that it's probably the only chance in your life for making such a trip might make the decision even harder.

What you can do to make the decision easier is getting a couple of brochures and spend hours on the internet reading about all possibilities, to come to the conclusion that they're all good. Of course they are! Why would you otherwise consider going there?

Now what?

A trick you can use is to check for additional advantages, like the ability to sport or the availability of good food or the price of the flights.

Let's take Africa for example. First of all, I don't want to go to the Sahara, which means I can skip the north of Africa. I'm also not planning to visit countries where there's political unrest so I can remove Liberia, Sierra Leone, Angola, Congo and many others from my list. This leaves me a couple of countries in West and South-East Africa. If I now put the possibility to dive to my list of criteria there are only three countries left: South-Africa, Tanzania and Mozambique.

Now it gets easy, I can go for nature in Tanzania with mount Kilimanjaro, and world's most famous national parks like Tarangire, Ngorongoro and Serengeti. Or I can take the path of history and culture and end up in South Africa to explore the history of Nelson Mandela, Hector Peterson and everything else that had to do with the Apartheid. Or I choose for Mozambique, which is the least famous of the three countries, so it might be more authentic and I will not be surrounded by herds of other tourists.

You see that by reasoning logically you can easily find a destination. Is this the way to do it? I don't know, I do not much like to link traveling with reasoning.

The opposite way to decide is by spinning the globe on your desk and stop it with your finger. Is this a better way? Probably not.

Nine out of ten of your holidays will be to either the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean and chances are that the tenth one is to a country in war or to the top of a mountain.

Somewhere in between the two has always worked fine for me. If you take too much time to figure out the ideal travel location you'll create too high expectations that will most likely end up in disappointment once you actually get there. When you have no planning at all and you just leave to the first location that comes in mind you might end up in some shit hole feeling sorry that you didn't spend your money on something else.

My advice is to pick a continent you like, read the general travel stories and advisories, based on that you can pick an area that looks nice - e.g. Eastern Europe, close your eyes and drop your finger somewhere on the map of Eastern Europe.

There you go, you can start booking flights.

It doesn't matter that you don't know anything about the country you're going, at least you know that it's in an area that sounded interesting to you. You still have the time to get yourself a book about Lithuania.

If your finger ended up in the black sea, you get a free retry if you promise to point a bit higher next time!

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Leigh's picture

I have a bucket list but I like the way you reason through the choices. Namibia is awesome too BTW.

I found you in the first place because of your comments on Todd's Wanderings with regards to Deb & Dave's Travel blogging advice.
I think more like you. It would be nice to have two weeks of posts done but that will never happen. It would put way too much pressure on me before my a trip. Just have to say it was nice to see a voice that didn't agree with everything.

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