When you have an extended period of time to travel, like I will with my sabbatical, or even when you are just planning your next week-long vacation, you have to figure out where you should travel next.
Have you been considering traveling abroad and found yourself asking, “Where should I travel internationally?” If so, these tips can help you figure it out.
Ways to Figure Out Where to Travel Internationally
Figuring out where to travel abroad doesn’t need to come down to spinning a globe and going wherever your finger lands. There are some unconventional ways to find an international travel destination that you’ll enjoy visiting.
Here are some out-of-the-box ways to answer the question, “Where should I travel next internationally?”
1. Consider Your Personal Bucket List
Do you have a personal bucket list of all of the places you want to travel to? Maybe you dream of sitting in a cafe in Paris reading a novel, perusing the markets in Morocco, or taking the trans-Siberian across Russia to see Lake Baikal.
Of the many things COVID has taught me, one of the most important is that there is no time like the present. So if you can afford it, you should travel to one of the places you’ve most been wanting to visit.
2. Do an Image Search on Google
Using the image search on Google or Flickr is my favorite way to plan an international trip. I just type in the name of a city or country I’m thinking of traveling to and start scrolling through pictures.
It’s an amazing way to determine if the place you want to visit is actually the next place you want to go. Sometimes searching will help you discover a place was not what it seemed or that somewhere else was even better than you could have imagined.
3. Consider Places to Travel Where the Economy is Depressed
Since this is a finance blog, I would be remiss to not advise you to consider costs when planning your next vacation.
There are a number of ways to think about costs. Some countries are always cheaper to visit than others, but sometimes a country has taken a recent dive in tourism dollars due to a natural disaster, local illness outbreak, or just a poor local economy.
For instance, a little over 10 years ago, the economy in Argentina was struggling, and it was a great place to spend tourist dollars. Why? Because the local hotels and restaurants are glad to see you.
When you visit a location that is already doing well, locals, even those in the hospitality sector, can get annoyed by tourists. But when a place is not doing as well, they appreciate you spending your money with them.
4. Prioritize Sights that May Not Exist Forever
Writing about this makes me incredibly sad for the future of our planet, but the reality is that some of the greatest places to visit won’t be around forever. If a place is already on your list of trips to take, and it’s otherwise endangered or changing such that it might not be the same in five to 15 years, you should travel there next.
Some places, like the Great Barrier Reef or the Patagonian Glaciers, are obvious contenders. However, places like the Galapagos or even the Egyptian Pyramids (two places that already have too many current tourists) will only become less attractive if they continue to be tourism hotspots.
Other destinations where overpopulation is already an issue might still be there, but they won’t be the same.
5. Search for Cheap Flights from Your Airport
When answering the question “Where should I travel to next,” think about cheap flights from your airport. Either sign up for your favorite airlines’ email list where they will email you about the best deals, or you can use Kayak.com’s Explore feature.
This feature allows you to type in your airport, and it shows you the best deals all over the world for your select dates.
6. Search for Direct Flights from Your Nearest Airport
When you aim to travel internationally for your next trip, you should learn what cities you can fly to direct from your closest airport. Even the largest airports in the world don’t have direct flights everywhere, and mid to large size airports may only fly direct to a dozen or fewer international locations.
If you have limited time for your next international trip, flying somewhere direct will help ensure that you don’t waste extra time in airports or waiting for delayed flights.
7. What Season Will you Be Traveling In
There are great destinations for every season, so consider when you will be traveling next. Take into consideration when the rainy season is, and consider what you will want to be doing there.
For instance, Iceland is phenomenal in the summer if you want to hike and enjoy days where the sun rarely sets. But, if you are looking to see the Northern Lights, you better go in winter.
Similarly, if you’re interested in shopping at German Christmas markets someday but you’re planning a spring vacation, you’re going to have to find a different time.
8. Ask Five Friends
Like scrolling through other people’s travel photos on Google, this tip is one of my personal favorites.
Ask five friends, colleagues, or even strangers (think the dental hygienist or the supermarket checkout person the next time you’re making small talk), “Where should I travel next?” This is a great way to crowdsource a vacation.
We recently took a road trip to the Badlands and Custer State Park in South Dakota based solely on asking this question to a few people we knew. These were not places that were on our list of destinations to visit, but the trip turned out to be amazing.
9. Is There a Dream Event You Want to Attend?
Keeping with the theme of getting to visit places before it’s too late, consider if there are dream events you want to get to.
Maybe you want to see a lantern festival in Thailand or China, the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia, the Cannes film festival in the French Riviera, or maybe Ted Lasso has inspired you to see a football match in England.
Whatever the event, you should plan your next international trip to get to that spot.
The Bottom Line
As part of my sabbatical series, I’m writing about travel this month, including how to plan your sabbatical abroad. These nine unconventional ways to think about traveling will help you figure out where you should travel next internationally.
This post is part of our Sabbatical Sundays series. To read more, click here.