Choosing where you'll go travelling is one of the most exciting parts of planning for a big trip.

It gets you excited early and brings joy into everyday life, because everything's better when you have something so wonderful to look forward to.

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But how do you decide where to go first? Is it even possible to choose a destination without getting overwhelmed at all the options?

Absolutely. And it's a lot easier than you may think.

It only requires working through these 10 questions.

1. How much time do you have?

Work out how much time you have. Whether you want to be gone for two years or two months, you need to know what length you're planning for.

 

The less time you have the less you'll want to be in transit. So if you're on the shorter end then experiencing a smaller region properly might be a better option than trying to visit every highlight in South America.

 

2. What travel activities do you enjoy?

You'll have loads of time to experience various types of activities, but there's usually a general theme you'll be more drawn to. Do you want a really active hiking trip or would you prefer to spend the summer partying at every music festival you can find?

Of course you can combine many different activities in one trip, however, knowing what you want to do the most will help you narrow down the countries based on the weather, landscape, culture and history.

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Every answer is the right answer, there is no "right" or "wrong" way to go backpacking.

3. What’s your preference: travel fast or slow?

Do you like taking your time to explore all the hidden gems of each place or do you thrive on the "go, go, go" pace, moving around a lot and seeing as much as you can in a short space of time?

 

​If you like slow travel, look at regions which have the culture you'd love to immerse yourself in. Perhaps while you're there you could settle in and learn a new language or some other local skills.

 

If you love fast travel, find a country or region with lots of sites you'd love to visit. You can explore new regions every day without having to spend as much time on transport.

 

4. What culture are you drawn to?

Do you love a particular cuisine? Is there a country’s history you’re mesmerised by? A language you adore?

 

If you're already planning a big trip away, you may as well make it in a place you'd love to spend time in. Think about what culture you'd really love to immerse yourself in, that'll give you some great clues.

 

5. Are you flexible on dates?

If you have a specific date you want to go by you'll need to work back from there. How long do you have to save? How long do you have to prepare? 

If you want to go on a working holiday visa to Australia but want to leave in only a few weeks' time, chances are you won't get your visa back in time. If you're not flexible with dates then you'll have to be lenient with locations.

Which brings us to . . .

6. Are you flexible with locations?

We ended up in one of the coolest towns ever (Tarifa, Spain) because we were totally flexible with where we'd go next. Thanks to Workaway we landed an opportunity to live in and experience an awesome small town in the south of Spain, which we probably wouldn't have considered before.

 

You don't have to be totally open to all options in the world but by "shopping around" you can go for the experience rather than location. And if you want to travel long term, a site like Workaway will help your money go a lot further.

 

7. Which season do you prefer?

Although the idea of going skiing or snowboarding sounds awesome to me, I would chase the sun forever if I could (so far it's working).

Be realistic with which seasons you like. If you prefer warmer weather, don't decide to do a year-long Euro trip. It get's cold. Likewise, if you prefer to rug up with winter dress in the mountains, don't put yourself through unbearable heat. 

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Think about what would be the most enjoyable temperature for you then check where to get that ideal season.

 

8. What can you afford/what are you willing to spend?

Cost can be a big deciding factor for choosing a destination. Norway, as beautiful as it is, will require a much larger budget to a month of yoga in India. Consider the costs before you get too carried away with planning your itinerary, otherwise you may have to go back and start planning from scratch once you realise your budget.

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9. Who are you travelling with?

Depending on who you’re going with could determine your whole itinerary. Are you travelling with your kids? Your partner? Your best friend? Or perhaps heading solo? Travelling with your boyfriend will require many different considerations to travelling with a baby.

 

As well that, going with someone else means you need to know where they even want to go. Going back to being flexible will help immensely.

 

10. What does your heart tell you?

Everyone has a dream location in their mind and, unfortunately, the more you travel the more you find! But when you really think about it, what country is calling your name? Where can you see yourself having the most fun?

 

Above all else, this should be the prime reason for choosing a destination. We can rationalise all we like but we all have that special place in our hearts, calling out our name. Go there.

 

10 Steps To Choosing the Perfect Backpacking Destination #backpacking #travel

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Where to find destination ideas:

Pinterest:

Search lots of different keywords and create various boards based on your dream trips. Just don’t get sucked into it, you may be gone a few hours (we all know the spell Pinterest casts on us!).

The great thing with Pinterest is once you create your boards you have all the tips right there with the pins. It makes it really easy to refer back to when you have more time to read all the attached blog posts.

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Trover​

Trover is a really cool platform which is like Pinterest, but only for travel. The cool thing is that travellers upload pictures directly to it and tell you exactly where it is, whereas with Pinterest you don’t always know the destination, and sometimes the destinations listed with the pictures are completely wrong.

 

Definitely have a look at Trover, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

 
 
Ask family and friends 

People are quick to give out tips and information when it comes to travel. The people closest to you may have been to some great places that you don’t even know about. Ask what they suggest in the period of time you have and see what they come back with.

 
 
Workaway

It's no secret we’re obsessed with Workaway because that’s how we ended up in two places we didn’t even know about (Tarifa, Spain and Wilderness, South Africa).

If you have a look on the Workaway site you can search by the kind of work you want to do or search by location. You may find yourself in a place you’ve never heard of before meeting lots of fun, like-minded people.

 
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go on a tour​

I still haven’t been on an organised tour but the people I’ve met who have been, have loved them. The reviews I heard were for Intrepid Travel and G Adventures tours, but if you can recommend a fantastic company, tell us in the comments!

 

The big pro of doing it this way is you can see quite a lot without all the hassle. The costs are generally a lot higher but it usually comes with far less stress since you really don’t have to do anything besides picking a tour.

 
 
 
 
Chase a deal

Sign up to receive alerts for flight or tour specials, or go into your local travel agent and see what specials they currently have going.

 

Sometimes just seeing a really great deal is enough to make you book it. Don't underestimate the power of a great opportunity and a spontaneous decision. It may be all you need to make that big decision for you.

 
 
 

Pin me!

Now that you know both how to choose the perfect backpacking spot and where to find new ideas, tell me in the comments where you plan to go next. I'd love to hear!