Deciding your travel destinations is an important part of your trip. Since my ‘European Sampler’ trip was my first un-chaperoned adventure outside of the country, I wanted to have all of my destinations nailed down before arriving. These were some of the major factors I considered when choosing where to go:
1. What do you want to do/see?
For my travel buddy and me, we wanted to focus our trip around food and architecture. So after months of deliberation we chose Prague, Interlaken, Cinque Terre, Rome and Barcelona. With our chosen places we knew we could go to museums, cathedrals, Swiss chalets, and the Sistine Chapel. We also knew we could munch on fondue, throw back some beers, slurp up spaghetti and eat tapas. We wanted the “Eat, Pray, Love” experience, just without the loving or the praying.
2. When is the best time to travel to these destinations?
For our trip we were forced to go the last week of July and the beginning of August which ended up being the perfect time of year! However, it is important to consider the weather. If monsoons or blizzards are likely, you might want to reconsider your plans. Are you traveling during off season? Great! You will miss all of the crowds. But, be sure to check for festivities and cultural customs in case of regional closures.
3. What is my budget?
As college students, we were looking for the cheapest route possible. We found out quickly that if a town is relatively inexpensive it could be very expensive to get to. Be sure to research travel expenses (airfare, train, bus, taxi, and metro system), lodging, activities and the exchange rate before deciding on your destination.
4. Are there any travel warnings or safety issues?
We felt that Europe would be a relatively safe place to travel, but as mom always says ‘it’s better to be safe than sorry’. I downloaded an iPhone app called “Smart Traveler” which lists international crime rates, hospital locations, and other safety questions you might have. This app is also handy because it sends regional safety alerts.
TIP: I would suggest looking into a good ole fashioned travel book to tailor your trip. I bought Lonely Planet’s “Discover Europe” which is filled with maps, lodging recommendations, itinerary suggestions, safety tips, budgeting ideas, translations and more. This book came in handy when my phone died, I couldn’t connect to Wi-Fi and when I needed a safe home for postcards.
Deciding your destinations is an essential part of your planning process, but it is important to remember that no matter where you end up, you are bound to stumble upon life changing experiences.