I recently read a blog post by one of my favourite bloggers, Jaharn Giles of Mister Weekender, about how to choose where to travel next. You can find the full article here, but to summarise, she recommended choosing your next travel destination by:
1. Reading blogs – ahem, ahem.
2. Using Social Media – which we wholly endorse!
3. Asking friends.
This final recommendation I couldn’t agree more with. I spent three hours over breakfast picking my friend’s brain who just returned home after travelling long-term, about everything from learning Spanish in Peru, to putting a traditional flamenco show in Madrid on the bucket list, to seeing the Great Wall of China with her own eyes. Nuff said. We always scratch around seeking first-hand accounts of a place, especially from people who share our interests. We know their advice will be unfiltered and won’t have the local tourism board’s guidebook gloss masking the more undesirable aspects of the destination.
This blog post of Mister Weekender’s also got me thinking – we at Checkin-Out must be a lot more (for want of a better word) anxious than we care to admit. Why? Because there’s a huge amount of other considerations we take into account when choosing a destination.
Then again, it’s more likely this is because sadly we don’t run a world-renowned travel blog like the amazing Mister Weekender. Ah well. B*tches can dream. In the meantime, we will have to continue to factor in the below considerations when planning where in the world to head next!
Find out details about the season you are heading into. If it’s a tropical destination, check if it is wet or rainy season. Why is this important – and not just for packing purposes? Well, if you’re leaving your hometown in summer for an island destination, you want the weather where you’re heading to be as good as, if not better than, the weather at home. A couple of years ago, I visited Bali over New Year’s. While it was a great time, we left a Queensland summer behind that is literally ‘perfect one day, paradise the next” to arrive in Bali to humidity, grey skies and fairly consistent and torrential rain. The thought of glorious sunny days at home frustrated me to the extent that I vowed that while I absolutely adore Bali, I will never visit again during rainy season.
INSIDER TIP: This being said, the cusp of rainy season is actually a great time to visit just about anywhere, as the weather is quite good but you avoid the jacked up prices and crowds of the peak period. If rain bothers you, like it does me, a simple tip is to google monthly rainfall of the destination. Similarly if you’re heading somewhere warm, have a look at the average monthly temperatures to avoid any extreme heat, as this can mean closure to the public of some attractions for safety reasons.
5. Length of time you have to get away
How long can you get away for? If it’s quite a chunk of time, it’s worth planning a bigger trip to somewhere you’ve never been before, or perhaps a more immersive and intrepid journey to somewhere you can take the time to get a feel for the local culture.
Alternatively, if you only have a few days annual leave and you’re taking a holiday to save your sanity and get a quick change of scene and injection of inspiration, then it might be easier to travel domestically and see something you’ve always wanted to check out in your own country or take a quick short-haul flight. More tips to maximise the fun on a short trip here!
6. Length of flight and change in timezone
Similarly, consider how long a flight is as well as the change in timezone you are willing to endure – especially important if you’ve only been allowed a short time away. A minimal change in time zone could mean no time is wasted upon arrival. I find the sweet spot is a change of four hours or less – a difference of any more and jet lag hits me hard.
However, if you’ve got your heart set on a particular destination, consider a flight that will get you there in the afternoon/early evening. We find this best because it allows you to arrive at your destination, at which point you’ll generally be tired and fed-up, but seriously excited and pumping with adrenaline. You can have a meal and a few drinks, take a quick look around and jump into bed, ready for a glorious day of exploration the next morning.
7. Purpose of trip
Give your trip a purpose! If you’re not sure where to go, let an event, concert, festival or convention be a source of inspiration and allow you to kill two birds with one stone. For example, has a road trip been playing on your mind? Buy a Splendour ticket (if you haven’t already), grab your mates and take the scenic route to the festival, leaving plenty of time to take in the serenity on the way. Been invited to your friend’s dream wedding in Tuscany? It’s a sign – let your carb freak flag fly and indulge yourself with a food tour of Italy.
8. Who are you going with?
Where you go and what you do on a trip with your best mates may be very different to where you head with your significant other. I have travelled with numerous people during my time and in each instance, this person greatly changed the trip. The contrast actually bowls me over. Really think about a) what you like to do with this person, b) if where you’re going is going to suit you both and c) is there somewhere that will allow you to meet in the middle?
Are you a nature fiend and your friend a foodie?
Are you an early-to-bed, early-to-rise and your travel buddy a renowned party animal?
Is your partner action-packed while your spirit animal is a sloth?
How are you going to a) decide on where to go and b) compromise to have an amazing trip together in the chosen destination?
Talk to each other about what you’re hoping to get out of this travel experience. Be completely honest. If your expectations are polar opposite, re-consider the destination or suggest that maybe maybe you take a rain check on your holiday together.
Don’t be afraid to say no to someone. If there is somewhere you are desperate to go, and you think the best way to experience it is by yourself, and it’s safe to do so, then go it alone!
9. What is your current state-of-mind and what do you need to get from this time away?
This is so important! If you’re exhausted, don’t feel guilty for craving a lazy getaway. Embrace it and book a fab all-inclusive resort so you can be lay around, relax and rejuvenate and don’t forget to save a little extra for a spa date! Listen to your body.
I know on our recent trip to Melbourne, Nat and I definitely overestimated ourselves. As we only had a week off, we rushed down to Melbourne, ready to take on the world. For the first couple of days in the city we couldn’t shake off feeling sluggish and in hindsight, should absolutely have gotten in one or two restful days on the Gold Coast to recharge after an insane month of working overtime.
Alternatively, if you’re restless and looking to get inspired, think about heading to a city that’s going to energise you and ignite the fire in your belly again – I always find New York City does this for me! Or maybe you feel like a little adventure? Head out hiking!
Finally, if you want to head on a whirlwind getaway with a bit of everything but don’t have the time, energy or inclination to do the research required, consider booking a tour. They minimise hassle and a lot of the thinking is done for you, both pre- and during travel, allowing you to enjoy yourself, meet new people and have fun. Great for the time-poor and those who don’t want to take things too seriously.
Finally, but quite possibly, most importantly, your budget absolutely SHOULD impact where you choose to holiday. For example, you are not going to head to Canada for a ski trip at an exclusive resort if you haven’t saved yourself up a nice little down payment on the chalet. Whilst I can appreciate there are budget breaks to be found everywhere, don’t make things hard for yourself.
If you have a limited amount of money but you are desperate to get away (trust us, we know the struggle is real!) then do your research and choose somewhere you can keep expenses within your means. Remember in every country on the planet there are amazing things to be seen – including your own.
If we can give you one piece of advice, it is not to fall into credit card debt. More to come on this!
Question the common stereotypes of where to find a cheap holiday. For example, once upon a time, a trip to Bali or Thailand was as cheap as chips – and while it still is, it’s certainly not as consistently affordable as it once was. As always, do your research to avoid surprises and ask around your immediate and online community for accurate advice.
Similarly, ensure you take a look at the foreign exchange rate of where you’re heading before you get there, and if overseas for an extended period, continue to to keep an eye on it. You can do so online any time! While something may look cheap, once converted into your home currency, the price may not be so appealing. As an Aussie, I find recommendations online on where you should travel now the Australian dollar has fallen super helpful. There is still value to be found overseas for Australians – you just need to know where to go.
INSIDER TIP: I know firsthand the benefits of travelling in a country where the Australian dollar is performing well – I was fortunate enough to visit the US twice with a friend when the country was still reeling from the Great Financial Crisis and for want of a better word, I went ballistic during both – because I could! The Australian dollar was stronger than the US dollar, accommodation prices were at an all-time low and every restaurant and bar featured incredible happy hour deals daily to encourage spending. It was an amazing time to visit America for two young girls with a penchant for shopping and sightseeing. Should I head back there now for a similar trip the budget would need to be much more measured as once you factor in the exchange rate, the US would now be approximately 40% more expensive to travel than it was at that time.
For those who aren’t great with numbers, make like Nat and pop a little card in your wallet with a quick reference guide as to what certain amounts in the country are equivalent to in your home currency. This means you won’t lose track of how much things cost relative to how much they would cost at home and will help you to regulate your spending habits.
So now that we’ve all come to the conclusion that picking somewhere to go is the most complicated decision ever, what have we left out? What else do you have to factor in before confirming your flight?