How to choose your travel destination

How To Choose Travel Destinations

If you guys don’t know by now, traveling is one key component in our relationship (one of our tenets is that we need to travel to learn and experience more, and life is a journey that we all should make use of). In this article (a few in a series), we try to take you in to our decision making process on traveling. One of the most recent questions we got was:

How do you choose your travel destinations?

Good question. There’s a few answers:

Dallas Texas
A cheap fare in March was a deciding factor to go to Dallas, TX

Cheap airfare/mistake fares

Mistake and cheap fares are our main driver for traveling somewhere. When we see something that is within our comfortable price range to pay cash (below $100 for domestic short haul that’s less than a two hour flight, or below $400 for an international flight), then we book our tickets. We aim to use at little money out of pocket as possible so sometimes we offset this cost by the use of travel rewards cards like Barclaycard Arrival.

Peter's cousin drove from Slovakia to Germany to be with us!
Peter’s cousin drove from Slovakia to Germany to be with us!

Family/friends + a side trip (or two)

We are a multi-race couple who both live in Jacksonville, FL in the USA. Peter still has family in Slovakia while I have family in the Philippines. We aim to go back home at least once every two years. This year (2016), we just visited Slovakia with a side trip to the Czech Republic, Germany, France, and Switzerland. On our last Philippine trip, we took a side trip to one of the islands from Manila (Bohol) and a stopover in New York (where we got free accommodation I  Manhattan, thanks to our friends).




It’s always good to do side trips and visit family and friends at the same time because it mixes both exploration and family ties, and there won’t be complaints that you keep going back to the same place, and not adding more countries or destinations to the list.

Family Travel for Real Life was held in Orlando in early 2016
Family Travel for Real Life was held in Orlando in early 2016

Events/conferences

This was recently added to our list. Went to my first event in April 2016 in Orlando for Family Travel for Real Life and I got hooked. Where else can  you find a place where you can connect to fellow travel geeks and learn more tips and tricks from them? That great first experience pushed me to book flights and accommodation for the Chicago Seminars in October. Peter and his brother will be out sightseeing and exploring the city for the weekend while I learn. Win-win situation, right? I love mingling with fellow travel hackers, and of course meeting travel bloggers as well!

 

Skydiving in Palatka, FL
Skydiving in Palatka, FL

Bucket list items

Like everyone else, I’ve always wanted to do crazy things I never thought of doing. Mostly from watching movies and reading books or blog posts. When I was living in Manila, I didn’t really have the chance to do these things: mainly because I didn’t really earn much in my day job, or whenever I wanted to do it, I find it expensive abroad. Now that I have a salary that is enough for me to comfortably live on and have fun, there’s never any time like the present!

If you look through our destinations, you’ll notice a lot of European places and of course, North America, with bits and bobs of Asia thrown in. While we would have wanted to visit and explore Central and South America as well as Africa and Australia right now, we have to wait when the time is right.

Is it more dangerous to travel now than before?
Ruby en route to the North Korean border

Visa/Safety Restrictions

Ruby travels with a Philippine passport, so she does not have as much freedom of movement as what I have – while it may impede some of our last minute travel plans, we don’t let such a thing like that bother us too much. We research in advance which places allow her to travel visa-free or just with her US visa, or if we really need to get a visa for her, we try to make a good weekend out of it. Case and point: during our recent trip to Europe, we decided to stay a couple of days more in Miami to enjoy the fun and the sun. We have been to Miami before to get Ruby’s other Schengen visa (last 2015), and went to explore a different neighborhood this time. We love doing spontaneous travel like this, as it gives us a feeling that we are locals (as we’ve already been to the destination before, so we are a bit familiar with what to see/do, and not in a rush to try and see everything).

For safety restrictions, well, we don’t really want to travel to Iraq just yet nor Afghanistan – those are in the least destinations we kind of want to visit for now, but it is something to look out for. With Peter holding an American passport, there are some places where he may not be as comfortable traveling to – like North Korea for instance. In Ruby’s case, she did a tour to the North/South Korean border but had to submit her Philippine passport and sign a waiver that the company cannot be held responsible if there was a sudden war in the border while she was there on a tour. Freaky stuff, but it was something real!

How To Choose Your Travel Destinations
How To Choose Your Travel Destinations

And there you have it – If you still can’t decide where to go even after we have given the tips above, well you can always opt to buy a map and a dart, put said map on the wall and throw the dart. Wherever the dart sticks to will be your destination. Not particularly rocket science nor will it be reflective of what you exactly want, but it works for some people. You can also do a lottery system where you write names of places in a piece of paper and randomly draw your destination. These last tips only work if you are not so worried about the budget.


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