Photo Source: Flickr - Robert S. Donovan
With so many great choices when it comes to travel destinations, it can be hard to narrow down where to go. No matter what your resources, it is always possible to plan a dream trip. To help you, here's a guide on how to research and plan your perfect travel destination.
While you may not have the budget, time or resources to do everything on your bucket list, you've got nothing to lose during the pre-planning stages. Dream as big as you'd like and imagine where you would go if resources weren't an obstacle. Read travel blogs and magazines for inspiration, and see which travel stories move you and make you want to get on the road. While you may not be able to book exactly what you imagine, it'll give you an idea of the type of experiences you're hoping for.
Note: Almost all RoamRight blog authors have their own, independent travel blogs. You can find links to them on our authors page.
After you've got some ideas going, start to pin down exactly what you want and can do. For example, maybe you can't ride a camel across the African continent, but perhaps a South African safari would help you fulfill your desire to interact with wildlife. Or maybe you can't afford to cruise to Antarctica, but Patagonia also offers some interesting glacier and wildlife experiences and is more accessible.
Sometimes a travel goal is also intangible, like wanting to strengthen your relationship with yourself, to provide your children with a memorable experience or to have a digital detox. Write these goals down, as well, as they're often even more important than your tangible goals when it comes to having a rewarding travel experience.
One of the most important parts of the trip planning process is creating a budget. While there's nothing wrong with splurging for a great trip, you also don't want to put yourself into debt. Be realistic, and figure out where you want to spend extra money and where you don't mind scrimping. For example, if food doesn't interest you but you love luxury hotels, skip dining out in lieu of cooking and street food and use the money you save to put towards a nice hotel. Another idea is to spend half your trip splurging and half your trip on a tight budget.
Once you have a realistic budget in place, start making a list of destinations that meet your travel goals. Even write down destinations you believe are expensive, as you can always research cheaper alternatives. For example, if French Polynesia is out of your price range but you dream of azure waters and beautiful beaches, then a Caribbean or Thailand getaway might be another option that costs less. If you want to experience unique desert scenery but can't afford a flight to Africa, Bolivia's Soleli Desert offers otherworldly landscapes for a cheap price.
Don't book anything before checking on what deals are being offered. Apps like Groupon and Living Social offer travel packages for anywhere from Jamaica to Australia for 50% off or more.
Additionally, following Twitter handles like @JetBlueCheeps, @airfarewatchdog and @traveldeals allows you to keep up-to-date on flight and travel discounts. And to have travel discounts sent right to your inbox, subscribe to newsletters from TravelZoo, Kayak, Budget Travel and SmarterTravel.
If you can be flexible with dates, you can often find great deals. Traveling during shoulder season is one way to find travel discounts, although you should make sure the attractions you're interested in are open and that the weather is bearable. Additionally, certain days of the week -- like Tuesdays and Wednesdays -- are cheaper to fly on than others.
If you live in the United States you can visit the travel.state.gov site to see which countries are safe for travel, as well as any concerns you should have when visiting a certain destination. No matter where you travel to, make sure to sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program well as purchase travel insurance to protect yourself in case issues arise.
RoamRight travelers can also stay informed using the security alert feature in the RoamRight mobile app.
No matter where you end up booking your vacation to, make sure to appreciate the fact you're getting to experience something new and exciting. Let yourself be selfish, and mold your experience to fit what you want to get out of the trip. Travel is one of the most rewarding parts of life, so enjoy it.
What are some of the ways in which you plan for travel?
Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.
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Jessica Festa is a full-time travel writer who is always up for an adventure. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia and doing orphanage work in Ghana. You can follow her adventures on her travel websites, Epicure & Culture and Jessie On A Journey. You can also connect with Jessica directly on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, or follow her epicurean adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
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