Updated: Jul 17, 2018
Deciding where your next trip will be can be a tough conclusion to come to, particularly because there are so many potential options to narrow it down from. For me, I know that traveling to a new country is certain before February of 2018, as I'm moving away for school (currently looking at the U.S., New Zealand, Australia, and England right now), but there is so much more I want to see beyond any one of those countries.
I have my friend in Manila, Philippines that I want to see; to travel with her to the gorgeous and vibrantly lush island of Palawan during that trip would be certain. I want to go to Moscow, Russia with another friend and spend my evenings gallivanting at the Russian ballet. I want to travel to Reykjavik, Iceland and wander through the rich natural landscapes and drink Icelandic vodka cocktails. I want to visit my cousins in Edmonton, Alberta - the opposite side of my own country - and drop into British Columbia while I'm over there to wander through the towering forests. But how do I narrow down such an extensive list? I certainly don't have the money (or frankly, the ability to take the time off of work) to do all of these trips by the end of 2017. Ideally, I would spend my whole life traveling, but that's not possible... for right now, at least.
So, then, how does one choose which trip to take when so many options are available?
You have to prioritize them by category, first off. From most to least likely, or most to least important, think:
Which destination is the one I have been thinking about traveling to the most?
Which destination seems the most culturally appealing to me?
Which is the most cost-friendly (if saving up money for the trip is a potential issue)?
Would I have a potential place to stay at (and get to spend time with family/friends at the same time) while visiting?
Am I most interested in doing something exciting and adventurous, or something relaxing and low-key?
What else is important for me on a vacation?
Now you have to prioritize the priorities, then see which destination popped up the most in the top selections. HINT: In my opinion, #1 is the most important, and if there is a place you can't stop thinking about and you're disappointed when it doesn't come up in your top selections, go there instead. That's the place you really want to go to and if money is the issue, you'll find a way to come up with it. :-)
Last year, I had, in addition to the above potential places I mentioned, Paris on my top list of places to go to (actually, I didn't really have the money to travel anywhere last year, but I wanted to, anyways). In fact, it was the place I wanted to go... so I just went.
It wasn't exactly a cheap trip, nor a place I had someone I could stay with (though I have a friend I used to work with living there, who I grabbed dinner with one night), and souvenirs weren't particularly cheap. But I put it in my head that I wanted to go, took as many shifts at work as possible, found the cheapest flight out on the cheapest days of the week, the most economically-friendly hotel (that was located close to a metro station and didn't look like I would contract a disease while sleeping in the bed), and tried to keep souvenir buying to a minimum. I bought the ParisPass to see all the sights, only took a taxi to and from the airport, and saved my money for indulging on a week's worth of bliss-inducing cuisine. Those eight days were hands down my absolute happiest days of 2016. I actually felt like happy crying every single day (except while in the tiny crammed seats of the flight, in which case I wanted to sad cry, but opted to sleep the time away instead).
Paris was first and foremost, where my heart and soul wanted to go, so I chose there and don't regret it at all. I also had my mom come along with me, which made it that much more fun, and I was so excited that I got to be with her on her first trip to Europe.
But now that I've made that trip, I don't see myself needing to go back to Paris within the next couple of years, so I can decide on a new place. I'd love to see more of my own country, especially because I'm guaranteed to travel to a foreign country because of school; I can have the best of both worlds, both near(ish) and far. Traveling within Canada would be more economically feasible, since I would have family to stay with in Edmonton and only need to pay for a hotel while visiting B.C. Most importantly though, I would see some of my favourite cousins, who I normally only see once every four years. These cousins would also be coming back to Toronto in December for my dad's wedding, so seeing them twice in a single year would make me one happy camper. And so, that's how I've come to decide that I'll be going out west this summer. I picked the season because Emily + cold weather = unhappiness to the extreme, and if I can barely survive an Ontario winter, there's no way I could handle an Albertan one. Plus, I can go to the Calgary Stampede if I go in July.
And that settles that! Where do you want to take your next vacation? What are your top necessities when choosing a travel destination? Let me know in the comments.
*Originally posted on Emulating Emily