"Where are you headed next?"
But how do I decide where I'm going next? I'm not in a position where I can just pick up and go. I have to think about my full-time job and the number of vacation days I'm given per year. There's also the cost because, as my mom liked to tell me growing up, "Money doesn't grow on trees" (sadly).
The short answer to how I decide where I'm going next is that it's circumstantial.
The long answer – here are a few factors that go into how I choose my next travel destination:
I Look at What's On My Bucket List
First and foremost, I think about what's on my bucket list when I'm deciding where to go next. But, I also have to be realistic. I can't go to ALL the places on my list at once, but I can prioritize and see what's feasible in the coming months and what will have to wait until next year or the following. It's frustrating at times to know you have to be patient in crossing things off your bucket list, but it also builds up the anticipation (or so I keep telling myself).
I Look at Any Events I Have Coming Up
By events, I mostly mean weddings because that tends to be what people travel for – a destination wedding or a wedding in someone's hometown. Over the last several years, I've had my fair share of destination weddings: Italy, the Philippines, Jamaica, India and soon Savannah and Santorini. Whenever I have a destination wedding coming up and it's an event I know I can attend, I incorporate that destination into the list of places I'm traveling to. I also do the same if I need to travel for work.
I Look at Places Near Those Events I Have Coming Up
If I'm traveling for a wedding or for work, I rarely just go to that destination and then go home. Why not make the most of it, right? For example, when I knew I was going to the Philippines for a friend's wedding, I looked at other places I could potentially go before or after. It ended up turning into an amazing adventure, from visiting a friend in Sydney to crossing off a place — El Nido, Palawan — that had long been on my bucket list, to revisiting one of my favorite cities, Hong Kong. And when I had to go to Ireland for work, I ended up tacking on a few days in Scotland. It's all about making the most of it.
I Pick a Place With Friends or Family
Sometimes I end up going somewhere, not necessarily because it's at the top of my travel bucket list but because it was a destination decided jointly amongst family or friends. Every year, I take a trip with friends for a long weekend and we always have a great time. The last few years we've done the Poconos, the Hamptons, Vermont and Philadelphia. I also end up visiting travel destinations based on collective decisions with my family. My parents wanted to visit Italy one year since they had not been in 30 years, so we went on a family vacation, passing through Venice, Milan, Lake Como and Rome.
I Look at Travel Deals
Sometimes a place pops up on one of my favorite travel deal sites, and I have no choice but to grab it. The place may not have been on my list of destinations to visit soon but that deal bumps it up to the top. Case in point, I had never visited Chicago and knew I wanted to one day get there but it wasn't until a great summer fare appeared on The Flight Deal that I grabbed at the chance to go. The same occurred with my family trip to London and Lisbon last year. I didn't necessarily have plans to visit either city (for Lisbon it would've been my second visit that year), but an amazing deal appeared on Secret Flying that I could not pass up — $250 total from New York to London to Lisbon to New York. Yes, please.
Those are a few things that help me figure out where I'm going next. In terms of how I actually afford to go to these places, head here to learn how I travel more for less.
How do you decide where to travel next?