"HOW TO" SERIES: Choosing a Destination

Welcome to the inaugural post in my new "HOW TO" series, where I live tips, tricks, and guidance in how I plan my trips and how you can too!



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For me, finding and choosing a destination suitable for my needs and budget is one of the most difficult parts of traveling and travel planning. I'm a young, struggling millennial who's pocking lining is thin but feeling of wanderlust is wider than the universe. Thus, my typical pickiness gets set aside so that I can experience anything and everything in due time.

Budget
As I said, I'm essentially broke. This means that budget plays a huge factor in deciding on a destination. I'd love to be able to fly to the Maldives or Tahiti and stay in over-water bungalows, but with my average trip costing me less than $1,000 total, that's not going to happen anytime soon. Now, to dive a little into how I section out my budget when deciding on a destination! **All prices indicated are in USD

Most of the flights I take cost me less than $500, and that's on the very high end- typically it's less than $350. With the right flexibility and some digging, this number still allows for a wealth of destination options for the Western hemisphere. With flights out of the way/already priced out, I typically move onto accommodation-the second largest expenditure. Here, I'm a bit more flexible. When I'm solo traveling, I strictly stay in hostels to keep my costs low- under $30/night (often even under $15/night). When traveling with my partner, I'm willing to splurge a bit more for some extra comfort for the two of us, meaning I search for Airbnb's for under $100/night ($50/person). I love Airbnb for this reason because I find them much more comfortable than hotels (plus most have kitchen access) and they're usually less expensive than most decent hotels. Plus, you have the ability to meet some really cool people!

Bucket List
After determining my rough budget, I take a look at my mile-long bucket list. By now, I've done a ton of research and have rough ideas of what budget could last the longest or be best fit for which destination. I'm pretty flexible when planning, rarely having a concrete set destination in mind. If I have a mid range budget of lets say $1,000-$2,000, I can either look at hitting multiple destinations for longer or look at staying in one place for a shorter period of time in a bit more luxury. Examples for a mid range budget + bucket list trip:
Longer with more destinations: My 2 month long backpacking trip in Europe, where I visited 7 countries and spent about $2,500 total. I visited the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Poland, and Germany and stayed in hostels.
Shorter with more luxury: My partner and I have a long weekend planned for Belfast, Ireland where we are planning on renting a car and staying in an Airbnb.

Personally, if I'm traveling by myself, I like to make every penny count and make sure I'm getting to see as much as I want to see. When traveling with someone else, I'm willing to be a bit more laid back and relaxed wherever we decide to go, not constantly moving trying to see as much as possible. If I've learned anything, its that its always better to make sure you really enjoy the places you visit.

Wants and Needs
This goes hand in hand with bucket list, but what do you want to do during your travels? Do you want to relax on a beach and go snorkeling? Do you want to go snowboarding or skiing and frolic in snowcapped, whimsical towns? Do you want to explore urban settings? Wherever you go depends on YOU and your interests, as every place is different.

Dates/Time of Year
Dates usually depend on my budget. I love traveling during off season, because its not only cheaper but also emptier most places. I love being able to wander through museums with only locals around or very few other tourists. Plus, I hate crowds. Since I'm typically working part time jobs with full time hours or multiple part time jobs, I don't have to worry about a set amount of vacation days. Usually I keep a couple destinations in mind when looking at dates, as certain areas of the world have rainy seasons or snowy seasons (aka where I live), so I don't really want to get caught up in that sort of thing.



As I said in the beginning, choosing a destination is probably the hardest component of travel planning for me, but its one of the most exciting. I love my spreadsheets and notebooks, so I have tons of data and lists for every destination imaginable, and I'm forever adding to them as my list grows.

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