I always find this time of year a strange if not somewhat grumpy one –the Xmas hols are a distant memory, our Paddy’s Day and Easter hols are done and dusted, we have had a couple of bank holidays under our belts and a few more on the horizon. Most of us have gotten the taste of a little time away from the office and at this point and we feel like we deserve a little bit more….!
If you are anything like me the laptop/iPad is stationed on your knee for several hours a night at this time of year trying to plan the upcoming annual holiday. This usually results in trawling through endless sites featuring many ‘suitable’ locations to visit in 2014.
I have my usual reserve list on standby for when I win the lotto and can escape the tremendously stressful, oops sorry! I meant to say the tremendously stimulating environment of the print industry for good – 2 month tour of South America swinging through the treetops in the rain forests of Costa Rica, a Caribbean cruise with a two week layover in Sandy Lane, Barbados , a private yacht trip around the Seychelle Islands, I could go on and on and on…!!
Once I ground myself again and consider the time and budget I actually have I try to focus on the more realistic options. You may be incredibly organized and have all your destinations ideas for 2014 planned out already , or perhaps if like me you get sidetracked by the endless advertising shoved in our faces and need some help I found the following tips helpful in the decision making process.
A lot will depend on key factors like personal travel style, length of time you have available, and of course your finances. Once you have those figured out your options for where you can go on your travels are endless.
Who are you traveling with?
Your destination choices can be affected dramatically by your traveling companions.Will you be traveling solo, as a couple, or as a family?If you travel as a family, sit down with your whole family and discuss your ideas and interests. Memorable trips are those where each member of the family gets to experience something they love. Finding the balance between adult and kid stuff is important.
If you travel as a couple, talk about your individual desires and expectations. Be clear on what you both want and make the decision that will suit both of you. But don’t leave it to one half of the relationship to always make the decision. Maybe you could simply take turns in choosing a destination each year?
What kind of trip did you have in mind?
A big part of your decision will come down to personal travel style, what do you like to experience, and what is your everyday life like? Is your working and family life so hectic that you need a trip to relax, recharge and spend quality time with your family? Or, are you the type who can’t sit still for long, are wired for action and want to see and do as much as possible?
Do you prefer:
Adventure or relaxation?
- Cities or countryside?
- Beaches or mountains?
- Resorts or road trips?
- Festivals and cultural experiences?
- Shopping or food experiences?
- Luxury, mid-range, or budget?
How much time do you have?
If you only have 1-2 weeks of vacation time per year, you probably don’t want to waste too much of that time traveling to your destination. But if you have 2-4 weeks you can look at traveling a little further.Below are some key points to keep in mind in regards to how much time you have:
Short (1-4 weeks):
Have less time moving from A to B.
- Choose only 1 country or region.
- You’re more likely to spend more in order to save time.
- Tendency to stuff a lot of activities in, but be warned this can exhaust you.
- Know your purpose so you can choose activities to cater to this.
- May pack more and shopping could be more of a focus.
- More likely to visit those countries that are more expensive.
- More likely to have a rigid schedule with things booked in advance.
Long-term (4-8 weeks)
- Can allow more time for travel between destinations.
- Depending on length, can visit multiple regions/countries.
- Will sacrifice time in order to save money.
- Will need to be extra vigilant with budget and finding deals.
- Focus on packing light and embracing minimalism.
- More room for flexibility in your schedule.
- Volunteering work may be an option.
What is your budget?
You can pretty much find a match for your budget choices whatever travel destinations you choose. However, it could change your ultimate decision as it might not be budget enough, particularly if you are traveling long-term when it’s best to stick to the cheaper regions! Carefully consider the strength of the currency you are traveling on and what areas you can make your euro travel further? What other currencies is it stronger against?
Do you want to learn something?
Is 2014 the year you finally learn to speak Spanish? Why not base yourself in Central or South America and force yourself to speak Spanish. Do you love Thai food? Do you want to learn how to cook authentic Thai? If you’re the foodie type, maybe destinations like Italy, France, Japan and India are an option?
What else could you learn or experience? What are you passionate about?
- Skiing in New Zealand
- Scuba diving in south east Asia
- Massage in Thailand or China
- Trekking in the Himilayas
- Learning to surf in Australia
- Wildlife conservation in Africa
- Golfing in the Carolinas
There are experiences and courses that can sometimes be best undertaken in a particular country. Think about what you want to learn and which country specializes in that?
What seasons do you like?
Many people travel for the seasons. Are you a summer or winter person? For most it’s usually summer destinations. It just has more appeal to us as there is more you can do outdoors, people appear happier when embraced by the sun, and you can travel lighter – especially if you have kids you will appreciate this. So unless you are looking for winter activities, you are more likely following the sun too. This will often mean prices can be higher, except for those regions where it is always hot.
Can you travel in the off-season?
If you are fortunate enough to be flexible in when you can take your vacation time, this is a blessing! Avoiding peak periods and traveling off-season is one of the best travel tips and you can save big bucks on flights, accommodation and activities. Even if you have kids in school, consider traveling just outside of major school holiday periods to take advantage of the savings.
Fly where the deals are!
Instead of thinking too much about the location of your next travel destination, let the cheap flights make up your mind for you! Think about using airfare sales to help determine the location of your family’s next vacation and month of departure, rather than the other way around.
Revisit Old vs. New Destinations?
Do you normally revisit the same destinations or try someplace new? If yes, why? Well, if there is a particular experience or feeling youwant o duplicate and you know where you can get that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with revisiting places. If you do revisit the same destinations, maybe consider doing it with a twist. Stay in a different neighborhood, eat at different restaurants, swim at a different beach, climb a different mountain, seek out new experiences. Of course there is a never ending list of new places to visit but it’s about prioritizing and being realistic. If there’s a dream destination you really want to visit, maybe 2014 is the year to check it off the list?
Hate travel planning and moving around?
Why not consider a cruise or all-inclusive resort. With activities to appeal to every generation, food choices to suit all ages, and itineraries that can be action packed or you just sit around on your backside all day, cruises and all-inclusive resort stays can eliminate decision headaches. You check in, drop your bags in your room, and then your biggest decision for the next week is what are you going to eat? Who couldn’t use a trip like that every once in a while?
Travel in your own backyard
Is money and time an issue for you? Don’t underestimate the benefits of staying local and exploring your own backyard. This strategy is one of the most overlooked and cheapest ways of having more travel in your life. Benefits of local travel include:
- Less Planning
- Less Packing
- Less Time Away
- No jet lag or burnout
- Usually cheaper