Original photo via Flickr

For the next three weeks, we will be taking a break from our regularly scheduled programming and our A World Of Wanderlusting posts to share a special series with you: The Twenty-Something’s Guide to Traveling

Welcome to Part II of our Twenty-Something’s Guide to Traveling series. Last week, we discussed making the commitment to travel (you can catch up here in case you missed it!).

Where on earth to go? Before you go pack your bags and head for departures, you have to decide where to you want to land.

Choosing your travel destination or pit-stop can certainly be a difficult decision to make. A beach, a river, the mountains, a city: so many possibilities, each with so much to offer, but how do you decide? Maybe you just want a trip upstate, or maybe you see yourself on the other end of the planet, the choices are endless.

Whether you’re clueless where to start or your heart is already set, you may need some help or have some questions, especially if this is your first time planning a trip on your own. GenTwenty at your service! We are here to give you some tips on how to decide where specifically you want to go, and why you want to go there.

It is necessary to determine your destination before you determine your budget for several reasons. It’s nearly impossible to set a realistic budget because of price variations between destinations, time of year, and where you will be traveling from. Narrowing down your destination first will help you set a realistic budget.

Determining Your Travel Destination:

If your answer to, “where do you want to go?” is along the lines of, “everywhere!” – we understand. You can’t go everywhere all in one trip so you’ll need to narrow down a specific destination. Try working through these exercises to choose:

1. First thing: Provoke your imagination. You know that therapy exercise of closing your eyes and imagining yourself on a beach, well try using a similar practice for your dream trip.  Where do you ache to go? What do you want to experience: relaxation, adventure, cuisine, nature, history, night-life?

Take into account your current everyday interests. Maybe you like running and have a passion for the outdoors, or perhaps you enjoy dancing and see yourself in a place with live shows and entertainment. These interests will help you narrow down your options and make the most out of your trip.

For others who enjoy a little bit of everything, you may be even more confused. Keeping an open-mind, make a checklist of what your dream destination has. At this point in your life, you may only be looking for a vacation of relaxation. You might also be seeking a wild adventure, or a foodie’s dream locale. Is it somewhere specific such as Machu Picchu? Figuring out exactly what you want out of your travel will help you pick your destination. 

2. Where to go for ideas. You should utilize all possible resources to help you with your search. If you find yourself overwhelmed with possibilities, look into finding a travel agent to help. They have the experience and handle travel arrangements for many types of travel, from tours and attractions, to cruises and romantic getaways.

Keep in mind the price of their services may be high, but overall, leaving the details in someone else’s hands is likely to be way less stressful, especially if you are inexperienced in international travel.

Now if you do have the confidence to going at it alone, we suggest watching travel shows and reading up on travel magazines and travel guides. This way, you can educate yourself and get a visual of a place before you commit. A trip to the travel section of Barnes and Noble will provide you with ample resources to flip through before you decide on a destination. 

3. Your companion’s opinion. For those that dream of going about all of this solo, then the only person you have to agree with is yourself.  You put all of the logistics up to you, which can be both thrilling and slightly terrifying. But, if you are going to have a travel partner or partners this probably means a little compromising and discussion.

The challenge lies with coordinating a trip together that works and satisfies everyone. This means working with someone else’s hesitations, budget, and interests as well as your own. 

Make a list together of the places you’d love to go. Do any overlap? That is a good place to start.

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If no specific destinations overlap, consider destinations that can give you the best of both worlds. There are many locales in our world that offer both beaches and mountains, hiking and spas, adventure and relaxation. If you are committed to traveling together, work together to find the best of both worlds.

4. Consider your time constraints. We realize you live a busy life. Even finding the time to work a shower into your schedule these days seems tough. So for those who have a minimal timeframe to travel right now it would be unrealistic to take a weekend trip oversees and then head back to work on Monday.

So here is our advice: divide the total time you would spend traveling to a certain location by the total time you have to travel to come up with a percentage.

For instance, say it would take you a day and a half to get to California (double it for the amount of time to travel back home), and you have 12 vacation days to do it in; this means 25 percent of your trip will be spent simply traveling to and from your destination. Decide if this percentage seems worth it or if you should choose to go elsewhere. 

If you aren’t comfortable with that percentage, figure out where you can go that will keep your traveling times to a minimum.

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5. Connections. If you are up for it, take advantage of connecting flights or roadside pit stops to make the most of your travels. Often these flight options are cheaper, and you get to see more even if it is just for a night. Pro-tip: Call the airline! Talking to an actual person can help you finagle connecting flights more than a search engine ever could.

Make sure your itinerary allows enough time to do this and don’t get caught up in one particular place for you might miss out on another. Sometimes the form of transportation you take will be an experience within itself. 

6. Understanding your travel personality. You will want to know what kind of weather you want to be in, what kind of food you want to eat, etc. Do you want to backpack across Europe or do you want to take a cruise along the coast? Once you understand what you want out of the trip, the easier it will be to pick a destination.

Don’t forget, though, that you can take multiple trips throughout your twenties. It isn’t a one-time thing so the trip you are planning now doesn’t have to encompass everything you ever wanted out of traveling.

Next Tuesday we will be covering how to budget for your trip expenses, how to save for your trip, travel hacks, and tips on where you can cut down your budget.

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Have a question? Leave it in the comments and we will cover it!