Some of you that follow the travel jaunts of The Flight Attendant Life may see no rhyme or reason to the places that I choose to visit, or the order that I choose to visit them. Vietnam as my first country in Southeast Asia to visit? That’s interesting. But, really! There is a formula to how I travel, even if it may appear as my travel life is simply concocted on a whim.
Want to know how I decide where I will end up next? I’ll tell you my secret. I stand in front of the world map taped to my wall, throw a dart, and go to wherever it lands. Just kidding.
But I do like the idea. Owl is up for anything.
But, seriously. This is my advice on how to choose a vacation or travel destination. Hopefully you will find my strategy helpful when planning your next holiday!
1. The destination has been recommended
Quite often, I don’t research what to see when I go to a new country. Mostly people; my friends and strangers tell me, “You HAVE to go [insert most fantastic place ever HERE]” and “make sure you do…[insert coolest activity ever HERE].” Ok. You got it. Usually, I’ve been in a space of inner turmoil, having trouble deciding between two or more destinations, but then I meet someone that has either, lived, or just visited one of the places I’ve been thinking of visiting. This scenario has happened more often than I can count! Before I went to Croatia, I was in debate over Italy and its Adriatic neighbor. I ended up chatting with Croatian family on one of my flights to Sioux Falls, South Dakota of all places. I took is as an, I must go. Maybe I do believe in signs.
Hvar Town, Hvar Croatia
2. There’s an opportunity
If I can figure out my schedule to have a few days off in a row, I start thinking about where I can travel. If someone I know is going on, or planning a vacation, sometimes I’ll join in their fun so I don’t have to travel alone. I am constantly thinking in the travel mindset of, where do I want to go, and when do I think I will be able to go? The way that my lifestyle is and working as a flight attendant lends itself to making travel more convenient, but I also do a lot to take advantage of the opportunities in my life. My advice to you is that, even if you are not a flight attendant, but you want to travel, start paying attention to websites like budgettravel.com for deals on trips or meetup.com and join one of the travel groups. Other options include getting connected to volunteer trips or take that weekend getaway you’ve been wanting to go on.
I had the opportunity to go to Haiti, so I went
2. How easy is the destination to get to?
When I think of the destination that I want to visit, I consider how many flights, buses, trains, taxis, boats, etc…that I will need to take to get there. Is it going to be more hassle than it’s worth with all the modes of transportation or is it one direct choice of travel? This is important to consider in the event there are flight delays, or God forbid, travel doesn’t go flawlessly. Also, take into consideration how tired and jet lagged you will be from so much movement. Will you need to schedule another vacation to recover from the “vacation”?
Costa Rica: Takes time to see this beautiful sunset
Love Copenhagen: Fantastic city, easy to travel to and get around with lots to do.
3. How many days do I have off?
Depending on how many days off I have is a huge consideration when I plan my trips. Right now, Buenos Aires, Argentina is top on my list of places I want to go, but I want to study Spanish there, and my goal is to spend no less than five weeks living in the South American country. With that information, I am predicting that it may still be a year before that dream is realized. That’s ok. Until then, I have countries like Israel on my sights for a ten day trip, Cameroon for three weeks, Austin Texas and Niagara falls for a weekend. There is just SO much that I haven’t seen. I don’t know if I will ever settle down…
With 5 days off, I went to Iceland. Why not?!?!
4. Is it high season/low season?
I like to visit countries during shoulder season, right before the full swing of tourists diverge creating the higher prices and completely booked hotels, or right after everyone returns to reality. The weather is still good, there are less crowds, and it’s not so much a necessity to book hotels or trains in advance. Also, the way I travel, hoping to get the last seat on any airplane makes it essential that I travel when others are not.
Shoulder Season in Tallinn, Estonia
And then some places are nice any time of year:)
Barcelona, that is you
5. How expensive is it?
A flight attendant budget isn’t the biggest, so depending on my savings account and how much I’ve been working, which isn’t always that much, for either, I choose by the cheap sometimes. Is it just as easy to get to Norway as it is to Morocco? Which one will it be based on cost and how far my dollar will go? Morocco. So if you are looking for a cheap destination try places like Guatemala, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Czech Republic, Portugal, Thailand, Vietnam, or Costa Rica. There are many places in this world that are still affordable for the backpacking junkie.
For European countries, Portugal won’t hurt the wallet too much. I loved Portugal!
6. Is it safe to travel there alone?
How comfortable will I be if I am going to be traveling alone? I’ve yet to go to Roatan, Honduras on a dive trip because I am a bit intimidated by the idea flying into the capital, known as “the world’s most murderous city,” and then taking a bus, and a ferry, by myself. Sheesh! I would be a little wary going to San Pedro Sula with someone else. I’ve already accepted the fact that I am not your typical backpacker, loving frills, shoes, shopping, and good food, over dirty dorm rooms, and cheap eats. I’d honestly prefer not to worry and would rather be in a country like Sweden or Denmark, where I’m mistaken for a Danish or Swedish University student and the majority of the people speak and understand English. If alone, my first choice is not a place where I am constantly wary of pickpockets and can’t be out after dark.
Perfectly safe, soloing in Chiang, Mai Thailand.
This is the, “I’m SO excited to be in Slovenia!!!” Ljubljana, Slovenia. Another safe place to visit!
7. Would I have fun traveling there alone?
Some places I have no interest traveling to solo. Maui and other uber romantic honeymoon spots. No thank you. Surprisingly, I had a great time in Paris alone. I think part of solo travel is learning to be ok with being alone, and also, making friends. I had a harder time in Thailand traveling solo as it was so different from what I am used to, I wasn’t staying in dorm room hostels, and I wasn’t being my normally outgoing self. In Copenhagen, Sweden, Iceland, Ljubljana, and Munich, I had a great time. I would rather travel with friends, but if I know that there are things about a destination that I can enjoy solo, like city tours, biking, hiking, and sight seeing, I will usually go for it. Besides, I always end up meeting very cool people, and end up spending very little time alone anyway.
8. Do I need any visas or shots?
Some countries require more travel preparation due to the need for visas and shots. Make sure you know what is required and recommended for entering a country. For US Citizens traveling abroad, visit the US State Department Website. As I mentioned, I want to spend three weeks in Cameroon, and another trip on my dream board is Russia. Both countries require a per approved visa and an invitation from a tour company or local resident, which mean I can’t just decide one day to hop on a plane a go. I’ll have to plan for those adventures.
Sapa, Vietnam: Remember the Visa. I chose Visa On Arrival. Super simple, the only hassle is the line you have to wait in once you arrive at the airport.
10.What do I want to do on this vacation?
When deciding where next, I ask myself if I am wanting a beach break, a mountain retreat, or a city sightseeing outing. That helps to narrow the choices of where to go next. Of course, I like to go to places I’ve never visited before.
History, trendy nightlife, relaxing evenings, warm weather, beautiful sights, & bazaar shopping. What better than Istanbul?
Where ever the place is that you plan your next vacation, one experience is not better or worse than another. Just different. You may immediately love a city or have to take time to fall for it…or that destination may never catch your fancy. Whatever the case enjoy your next vacation, and if you don’t want to plan your own, email The Flight Attendant Life at firstname.lastname@example.org, let us know your budget, and we will help you with the planning of your next holiday.
Curious. Bubbly. Creative. Curating a life I don't need an escape from and inspiring you to do the same.