How to choose your next travel destination

A not-exhaustive list to get inspired and to prioritize

To go or not to go?

“All you have to do is decide to go, and the hardest part is over. So go!” — Tony Wheeler, Co-founder, Lonely Planet

I was reading some other articles about travel and I was surprised to find out that people of mine or younger generations can find excuses for not traveling.

That sounds really strange to me because for all my life, all I wanted to do was traveling, no matter where, but preferably to another country where I couldn't even understand the language, where everything was so different that the only thing left to do was learning something new. Taking all in.

Unfortunately my parents were not as adventurous and I had to wait quite a long time before I was able to earn my own money and investing in something as intangible as inner richness and memories.

Traveling isn't an object you can buy and use until you either exhaust it or sell it to make profit. When you spend money for flights, accommodations, tours, etc. there is no material return. All you're left with are your memories and, hopefully, a strong sense of cultural growth.

So, is it really worth it?

Yes. In over ten years I can fairly say that I made up for all the traveling I didn't do when I was a teenager and I never had the feeling, not for a second, that it wasn't worth it. This is why I will keep on traveling for as long as I can.

Of course I've been to places I wouldn't necessarily go back to, but even the ability of building a critical opinion is something I cherish.

It's a small world

On Earth, there are almost 149 millions square kilometers of land, divided into 206 countries, where over 7 billion people speak 6,900 languages. In other words… there's a lot to discover.

If all these numbers seem overwhelming, don't worry, traveling doesn't necessarily mean that you have go everywhere. Just be open to go anywhere: every place has its own charm and beauty.

Where do you choose your first or next travel destination, then?

The bucket list

I'm sure (almost) everyone has their travel bucket list. That "I would really love to go to…" must have crossed your mind at least once in your life.

So, there you have it, your starting point. Which can be either geographical or inspirational… or both.

Iceland was always on top of my travel list, but I had to wait until I had the money and the time to get there. So I started exploring Northern Europe first: Denmark, then Sweden, then Norway, then Finland eventually I made it to Iceland too.

No-brainers

There are few obvious choices when picking up a travel destination. For instance when a family member or a friend move overseas or when you're traveling for business and you have the possibility to extend your stay.

I always take advantage of these opportunities. With one of my best friends living in NYC, I regularly fly there (and I don't have to pay for accommodation!). And if I have to fly long-haul for work, I always extend my stay for few days either to get to know the place a bit better or to visit a neighbor destination.

Obvious destinations

There is a reason why millions of people visit every year cities like Paris, countries like Italy, natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef or food paradises like Bangkok.

Hype is definitively an element, but so many people can't be wrong. So make sure you go there too, there are big chances that you're going to be charmed too.

Word-of-mouth

Getting inspired by friends and following their steps is completely legit. Especially if the inspiration comes from someone more expert in traveling than you, from someone you trust or someone with a similar taste.

(Travel) media

To be completely honest, I will never understand why someone would want to go to New Zealand just because of Peter Jackson's movies. The amount of CGI is transforming the landscape so much that you could definitively visit any other mountain range and pretend you're in the middle-earth.

Still, movies, music, books, magazines, blogs and other media can definitively help you find some inspiration. So read, watch, listen, do your research, no one said it's going to be easy.

Airlines

If you are, as it is probably the case, part of a frequent traveler program you might want to make sure you collect miles.

You can always pick up the list of destinations served by your favorite alliance and get inspired.

If this is too overwhelming, just look at the airlines you can fly with and the countries they belong to. I have to say that my recent decision to visit Argentina and Chile was facilitated by the fact that LAN is part of oneworld.

Rediscover

Don't be afraid to visit some places more than once: there is always something new to discover.

You will also have the chance to slowly transition from tourist to local, which is a very rewarding and enriching experience.

Your own country

In all the previous sections I was almost assuming that your next travel destination may be in another, potentially remote countries.

Of course everything I said so far applies also to the cases in which you want to just explore what your fatherland has to offer.

I grew up in Italy and I haven't been everywhere. Sicily is one of the most notable regions I would like to visit soon.

You made it this far

Some places are just so far away that you just might want to extend your travel plans to include even more remote places.

If you made it as far as Australia, why not going to New Zealand on the same trip?
This is actually a question I asked to myself when I visited Australia for the first time. I ended up spending one week between Melbourne, Great Ocean Road and Sydney and then one week traveling by train from Auckland to Christchurch stopping in Wellington.

I have to say that it was probably a mistake. Yes, I got to visit New Zealand too but I spent too little time in both countries and I didn’t appreciate either.

So be careful in using this technique: it requires serious planning and you need to know what you’re doing. It probably only works if you have a very flexible time available, e.g. during a sabbatical.

Too much? learn how to focus

As I said before, traveling is a learning experience and you will get richer inside the more you travel.

But that's not everything, the more you travel, the better you get at traveling. It seems obvious, but it shouldn't be underestimated, because the worst that can happen while traveling is being disappointed by a destination.

So remember to learn a bit of yourself every time to go out of the door. What could have gone better during last journey? Did you spend too much time on the beach? Didn't you plan enough? Did you pick the wrong season?

But most importantly, remember to focus on what went well, because that's the real key to find your next travel destination.

Leading themes

The best you can do is finding one or more leading themes, guidelines that make sure you always choose a destination that you're not only going to like, but to adore.

Although it didn't really come as a surprise, it really hit me last May when I was visiting Svalbard: I just love the polar areas. That's my leading theme.

After visiting Iceland for the first time and therefore crossing the top destination off my bucket list, I wasn't as impressed by the places I visited next.

Then I went to Svalbard and everything was clear. Just give me a pair of hiking boots, mountains or volcanoes, remote places, majestic nature and I'm in.

Where am I going next? Patagonia. I'm trying to find the southern-hemisphere equivalent of all the places I loved around the north polar circle.

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Social media professional. Traveler. Hiker. Bear cub. Amateur photographer. Sometimes I feel like the world isn't ready for me

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Pino

Pino

Social media professional. Traveler. Hiker. Bear cub. Amateur photographer. Sometimes I feel like the world isn't ready for me

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