How do YOU prioritise travel destinations?

It’s videos like THIS

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUoYWcbDCXI]

that make me so confused as to where I should go next.

In the past it’s been easily decided by where fits best on a Round the World ticket or by looking at countries close to somewhere I already know I’m staying. For example, when I had family living in the Philippines, I used it as an opportunity to visit Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan on various occasions.

But as I have become more and more exposed to travel and backpackers and travel blogs and… globes… I find it increasingly difficult to decide where to go next. Not where to go, just where to go NEXT.

So you make a list, don’t you.  These are the things I research:

  • Cost of a flight
  • How far my money will go when I’m there
  • What I can do there
  • How long do I need there

Then I weigh up those things by assigning a weight of importance to each one. Based on the result of this, I am able to come up with a logical conclusion as to where each one is placed on the list and therefore where the next place I ought to go is. Simple.

Except it’s not is it?

Mayan Ruins in Honduras

Shouldn’t decisions like this be made by looking into your heart of hearts? Shouldn’t I have a gut feeling about where to go? These things shouldn’t be decided using logic and sense. That totally goes against the whole spirit of travel – freedom, exploration, relaxation and the unknown.

And yet I really struggle with it. Possibly because I know I only have a finite amount of time but an infinite number of places to go. It’s ridiculous though, because the danger is that fear can paralyse you into NEVER making a decision and before you know it, you aren’t going anywhere.

The reality is that it’s difficult to pick the ‘wrong’ place because you can’t know how much you are going to like somewhere until you’ve been there. After all, it’s the unknown quality that make it attractive in the first place.

I travel solo these days which means no compromising but it also means no companion to bounce ideas off of and I think sometimes that would be a good idea because they make you think of things that had previously not occurred to you.

The bottom line is I’ve never been anywhere and thought, ‘well that was a big fat waste of time/money/effort’ because you know what? The two things that I value the most are catered for no matter what – the journey and simply being somewhere different.

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The art of patience

That’s another day in the office gone. One day closer to another week’s wages in the bank. Which will be one week closer to hitting that financial target, and one week nearer to a departure date.

In many ways this is the most painful part of the build up. It almost feels like wishing time away which is never a good thing.

So I started to think of the positives I can take from this experience because, unless you’re lucky to be simply handed wads of cash, burrowing away pennies is all part of the experience of travelling (namely, the first part) and almost every backpacker out there has to suffer the same torment.

Here are three things to think about that will hopefully give you the juice to keep going on the occasional moments of weakness:

1. Saving teaches you the value of money. Going months on end without splashing on frivolous accessories, not spending every Friday and Saturday in a bar or club is not easy, especially when your friends are out living it up. At this time, it helps to look at the bigger picture. The cost of a beer could be a night in a beach hut on a beautiful Thai island, so a whole night of drinking is one week’s accommodation when you’re away. Totally worth it.

2. Patience is a virtue, as the saying goes. I know from experience it’s a satisfying feeling when you look at your swelled bank balance for the final time before you begin to devour it in some far away land. Knowing you achieved that through sheer determination and discipline is no mean feat and one you should be proud of. It makes it all the more special when you hand over a fistful of notes for your Queenstown bungee jump.

3. Keep your eyes on the prize. Surround yourself by reminders of what the next chapter of your life has in store for you. Set your desktop background to Ayers Rock, make travel websites your homepage, go on forums and social media sites to talk with people also preparing to go.

I’m sure you have some of your own ways of dealing with this difficult time and I’d love to hear them!

Whether it’s days, weeks, months or even years until your trip starts, it’s a rite of passage you have to go through so try to embrace it. What doesn’t kill you…

Looking into the abyss at Nevis Bungy, Queenstown, NZ.