Travel Destinations: How To Choose

how to decide where to travel abroad

Deciding where to travel abroad can be challenging, especially if you've never done it before. Here are some tips to help you choose your next travel destination:

- Speak to other travellers: Ask family, friends, or even strangers about their travel experiences and recommendations. They can provide valuable insights and insider tips that you may not find in a brochure or on a website.

- Use social media: Pinterest and Instagram are great sources of inspiration, with stunning visuals that can spark your wanderlust. Twitter and Facebook also allow you to discover events, follow tourism boards, and connect with people sharing inspirational content.

- Draw inspiration from films, TV, and books: If a particular destination in a movie or book captivates you, why not plan a trip there? You can walk in the footsteps of your favourite characters and explore the places they call home.

- Consider your culinary interests: Think about what cuisines or dishes you'd like to try, and plan your trip around those destinations. Whether it's authentic Thai food, delicious sushi, or mouth-watering Italian pizza, food can be a great starting point for your travels.

- Create a bucket list: Instead of focusing solely on destinations, consider the experiences you want to have. Do you want to see wild orangutans, go skydiving, or scuba dive? Create a list of your desired activities and then find destinations that offer those experiences.

- Determine your travel style: Are you seeking relaxation on a beach, or do you prefer exploring bustling cities? Do you want adventure, spirituality, or cultural immersion? Knowing your travel style will help narrow down potential destinations.

- Consider the weather: If you want to escape the weather in your hometown, choose a destination with your preferred climate. You can follow the sun by travelling between the southern and northern hemispheres or seek out snow-capped mountains for skiing.

- Decide on your travel companions: Are you travelling solo, as a couple, with family, or in a group? This will impact your choice of destination and the activities you can do.

- Research and plan: Once you have a shortlist of destinations, research them thoroughly. Consider factors such as safety, budget, flight deals, and whether you want to stay in one spot or travel around.

Characteristics Values
Visa situation Tourist, youth mobility, student, sponsored, family lineage, freelancer, marriage
Work opportunities Sponsored by a local company, transferring to an international office, remote work, finding a new job
Cost of living Affordable, expensive
Proximity to home Close to home, far from home
Language English-speaking, non-English-speaking
Climate Mild, hot, cold, extreme
Population & city size Big city, small town
Access to important things Easy access to travel, yoga studios, farmers' markets, movie theatres, etc.
Transportation Walk, drive, public transit
Expat community Yes, no
Pet-friendliness Pet-friendly, not pet-friendly


Research visa options

When deciding where to travel abroad, one of the first things to consider is the visa situation. Visa requirements vary depending on the country and the purpose of your visit, so it's important to do thorough research. Here are some common visa options to consider:

Youth Mobility Visa or Working Holiday Visa

The Youth Mobility Visa, also known as a working holiday visa, is a convenient option for individuals between the ages of 18 and 35 from partner countries. Canada, for example, has partnerships with over 30 countries, offering an excellent opportunity for eligible Canadians.

Student Visa

If you plan to study abroad, a student visa is a common path to gain entry to your desired country.

Sponsored Visa

Some countries allow workplaces to sponsor individuals to move abroad for employment. This is a great option if you already have a job offer from an international company.

Family Lineage Visa

If you have family members from another country, such as a grandparent from Italy, you may be eligible for a visa through family lineage. This option allows you to explore your family roots while living abroad.

Freelancer Visa

For those who work remotely or are self-employed, a freelancer visa could be an option to consider. This enables you to live and work in a different country while pursuing your career independently.

Marriage Visa

In some cases, you may be able to obtain a visa through marriage to a partner from another country. This option allows you to join your spouse and establish a life together in their home country.

Tourist Visa

Moving abroad on a tourist visa is a more complicated option, as it typically comes with restrictions on working and may require regular visa renewals. However, it can be a viable choice for short-term stays or if you don't intend to work during your time abroad.

When researching visa options, it's important to consider your specific circumstances, such as your age, occupation, family background, and relationship status. Each country has its own unique visa requirements and application processes, so be sure to review the relevant government websites for detailed information. Additionally, keep in mind that visas can be costly, so it's essential to factor this into your budget.


Consider the cost of living

When deciding where to travel abroad, the cost of living is an important consideration. It can vary significantly from country to country, and it's crucial to ensure that you have enough money to sustain yourself comfortably. Here are some factors to consider when evaluating the cost of living in potential travel destinations:

Research Local Costs

Before travelling abroad, it's essential to research the cost of living in your chosen destination. This includes understanding the costs of rent, food, transportation, utilities, entertainment, and other essential items. Online resources, university websites, and local government websites can provide valuable information on these topics. Additionally, don't forget to factor in any additional costs such as visa fees, customs duties, and taxes.

Accommodation Costs

Accommodation costs can vary widely depending on the location and type of accommodation. When creating your budget, consider not only the rent or purchase price of your accommodation but also any associated costs such as deposits, utilities, and furniture. If you plan to rent, be sure to research the local rental market and understand the standard requirements, such as lease lengths and any agent fees.

Living Expenses

Living expenses cover the cost of essential goods and services, including food, transportation, and housing. These costs can vary greatly between countries, so it's important to research them ahead of time. For example, some countries may have higher food prices due to import taxes or a lack of local production. Additionally, consider your lifestyle and any non-essential expenses, such as dining out, entertainment, and personal care.

Healthcare Costs

Healthcare costs can vary significantly between countries, and it's important to understand what expenses you may incur. Research the healthcare system of your chosen destination, as some countries have universal healthcare coverage, while others may require private health insurance. Determine whether you need international health insurance and factor those costs into your budget. Additionally, consider the cost of medications and any specific healthcare needs you may have.

Transportation Costs

When evaluating the cost of living, don't forget to include transportation expenses. Research the cost of public transportation, such as buses and trains, as well as the cost of fuel if you plan to drive. Additionally, consider the availability and cost of ride-sharing services or taxi alternatives. If you're planning to travel long distances or across borders, look into the cost of flights or other transportation options.

Communication Costs

Communication costs, such as phone bills and data plans, can vary significantly between countries. Research the local phone and internet service providers and their pricing plans. Additionally, consider the cost of purchasing or renting a local phone or SIM card if needed. If you're bringing your own device, understand any international calling or data charges that may apply.

By carefully considering these factors and creating a detailed budget, you can make informed decisions about where to travel abroad and ensure that you have the financial means to support yourself comfortably during your time away from home.


Decide on location

The location you choose to travel to will depend on what you want from your trip. Here are some factors to consider when deciding on a location:

  • Visa requirements: Research the visa situation for the countries you are considering. The type of visa you need will depend on your reason for travelling, how long you plan to stay, and your nationality. Some visas can be costly, so this may impact your decision.
  • Work opportunities: If you plan to work during your trip, research work opportunities in your desired location. Consider whether you will need to learn a new language to work in your field.
  • Cost of living: Research the cost of living in different locations and consider whether this is affordable for you. Even expensive places can be lived in on a budget with some adjustments.
  • Proximity to home: Consider whether you want your travel location to be close to home or further away. If you plan to return home regularly, a closer location may be better. On the other hand, you may want to embrace the opportunity to travel somewhere far away and experience a new culture.
  • Language: Think about whether you want to be able to get by with speaking English, or whether you would prefer to immerse yourself in a new language.
  • Climate: Consider whether you want to escape the weather in your home country or experience a similar climate. Research the yearly weather in your desired locations and consider whether you want to avoid natural disasters or extreme climates.
  • City size: Decide whether you want to live in a big city, a small town, or somewhere in between. A bigger city may offer more amenities and things to do, but it may also be more expensive and have larger crowds.
  • Access to important things: Make a list of things that are important to you, such as travel links, public transport, nature, restaurants, etc., and research whether your desired locations can offer these things.
  • Transportation: Research transportation options in your desired locations, including public transport, driving, and walking. Consider whether you will need to rent a car or use a boat to get around.
  • Expat community: Consider whether you want to live in a place with a large expat community. This can provide a built-in support network and make it easier to adjust to life in a new country, but it may also be more expensive and make it harder to meet locals.
  • Safety: Research the safety of the locations you are considering, including crime rates and the health system. While media reports may be biased, it is important to be aware of any potential risks and take necessary precautions.
  • Things to do: Look into the activities and attractions offered by different locations to find a place that aligns with your interests. Consider trying something new or creating a bucket list of experiences you want to have during your trip.


Check out job opportunities

When deciding where to travel abroad, it is important to consider job opportunities. Here are some tips to help you explore job opportunities in your desired destination:

Use International Job Boards:

Start by searching for international job boards that cater to your specific career field. These job boards will allow you to narrow your search to certain locations and may even have filters for positions that are open to international applicants. Some websites also cater specifically to US citizens or English speakers looking for work abroad. For example, the Go Overseas Job Board offers a variety of open positions with companies around the globe.

Network and Connect:

Building a strong professional network can be beneficial when seeking job opportunities abroad. Join relevant groups on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter, where you can connect with other international job seekers and companies looking to hire. Create a profile that showcases your skills, experiences, and goals, and don't be afraid to reach out and make connections. Stay in hostels or co-working spaces to meet other travellers and expand your professional circle. If you're a recent graduate, utilise your alumni association to connect with fellow alumni living in your desired country, as they may provide valuable insights or connections.

Consider Your Current Job:

If you're currently employed, consider whether your company has international offices or partnerships. Many large companies operate globally and may offer opportunities for employees to travel or relocate. This is especially common in the hospitality industry, where American hotel companies often seek English-speaking employees who are familiar with the company's operations.

Work with a Recruiter:

Consider using an international recruiter or recruitment agency that specialises in placing workers in international positions. They can help cut down the hassle of searching for jobs and companies willing to sponsor visas, but be aware that they usually charge a fee, often taking a percentage of your future paychecks.

Research Job Availability:

Before deciding on a destination, research the job market and opportunities available in that country. Will you be able to work in your current field, or do you need additional qualifications or language abilities? Are jobs in your field easy to come by, or will you need to consider other options? For example, if you're moving to a non-English speaking country, you may need to learn the local language to increase your chances of finding employment.

Understand Visa Requirements:

Research the visa situation for your desired destination. Different countries have different visa requirements, and understanding these is crucial before committing to a move. Some common visa options include working holiday visas, student visas, sponsored visas, and visas obtained through family lineage or marriage. Each type of visa has its own set of eligibility requirements, so be sure to do your research.

Remember, finding a job abroad can be a challenging task, but with persistence and a well-planned strategy, you can increase your chances of success.


Assess safety

When deciding where to travel abroad, safety is a key consideration. Here are some tips to help you assess the safety of your chosen destination:

  • Research travel advisories and government recommendations: Check official government websites for travel advisories and safety information specific to your destination. These websites often provide valuable insights into potential risks, such as political instability, natural disasters, or health concerns. They may also offer guidance on necessary vaccinations and insurance coverage.
  • Be vigilant in tourist spots: Tourist spots are often targets for petty crimes like pickpocketing and scams. Stay vigilant, keep your valuables secure, and be aware of your surroundings. Avoid carrying valuables in your back pockets, and consider using a money belt or pouch to keep your passport and cash close to your body.
  • Maintain a low profile: Avoid standing out as a tourist. Dress to blend in with the locals, and refrain from wearing expensive jewellery or electronics that might attract unwanted attention. Minimise speaking loudly in American English in public spaces.
  • Be cautious at night: Avoid going out alone at night, and stick with a group of 3-5 people whenever possible.
  • Stay informed about local culture and customs: Understand what behaviours are considered acceptable and inappropriate in your host country. Be respectful of local customs and cultural norms to avoid unintentional offences.
  • Be cautious around transportation and water activities: Road and vehicular safety is a significant risk when travelling. Familiarise yourself with local traffic laws and regulations, and consider using public transportation or ride-sharing services instead of driving yourself. When engaging in water activities, always prioritise safety. Obey posted signs, use life jackets when available, and avoid taking unnecessary risks.
  • Register with your embassy: Sign up for relevant embassy programmes, such as the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for U.S. citizens, to stay informed about safety updates and receive assistance in emergencies.
  • Keep important documents secure: Make multiple copies of your travel documents and credit cards. Store one set separately from the originals during your trip, and leave another copy with a trusted contact at home. Keep your passport and other essential documents in a secure location, such as a hotel safe.
  • Stay connected: Carry a functioning mobile phone with you at all times, and ensure it is charged and easily accessible. Share your contact information with your department, colleagues, or trusted contacts.
  • Be cautious with money: Notify your bank and credit card companies about your international travel plans. Familiarise yourself with foreign transaction fees, and consider having multiple payment methods available.

Frequently asked questions

Start by making a list of inspirational destinations, then narrow it down by asking yourself some questions. Do you want to travel solo, as a couple, or as a family? What type of vacation are you after – beach or city? Do you want to follow the sun, or escape it?

Speak to other travellers to get insider tips. Use social media – Pinterest and Instagram are full of stunning visuals, and often come with a first-hand account of someone’s experience. Keep an eye out for destinations on film, TV, or in books – if something captures your imagination, why not walk in the footsteps of your favourite characters?

Think about the type of trip you want to have. Are there any activities or adventures on your bucket list? If so, figure out where in the world you can achieve these dreams. You might find a destination that ticks off several of your experiences in one go.

Ask yourself if you want to stick to one spot, or travel around. If you’re going all the way to Australia, for example, you might want to see a number of destinations. But if you’re heading to a neighbouring city, you might prefer to stay in one place.

Research the area to find out about must-see monuments, secret coves, quirky museums or unknown restaurants. Look into seasonal attractions or festivals that will make your trip memorable. And see if there are any safety considerations to be aware of.

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