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This is not a cut and dry question. Some travelers just know. For others, this is an excruciating question — something that passes through your mind and you find yourself torn in a variety of directions. So, how does one solve this problem? Where do we go to find inspiration or reasoning behind our next decision for a location? While there are endless reasons to travel, there are certainly factors that will determine the nature of your next vacation. Trust us, we know how it feels to have a seemingly endless bucket list — too many places to see, endless adventures to go on and a confusion of where to check off next. This has an interesting way of causing anxiety among many potential travelers. The sheer amount of possibilities can often times create a stagnation in our plans. However, there are many factors to consider that can help to weed out the majority of those locations in congruence with your current desires.
Below, you will find a myriad of factors to mull over as you place your finger on the part of the world you want to see next.
Duration. Quick getaway? A few weeks to really explore an area or do you want while away the days feeling languid on a beach? These are keys factors that will determine many facets of your vacation. For example, having only a few days to get away may influence you to only want to take a short flight somewhere instead of spending one of your few precious days traveling to the location. This is a big one and often times is rather set — many people have a very fixed amount of time that they can step away from their daily lives for.
Budget. As discussed above, your budget can also affect how long you can get away for. Think realistically about how much you want to spend on your trip and the activities that you would like to do. This factor also has the tendency to have trickle down effects on the nature of your vacation. Keeping your budget in mind will allow you to determine the sites you can see, the accommodations you will be staying in, the forms of transportation around your destination and the overall duration of your trip. In addition, perhaps if you are traveling with a bit of a larger group you will have your own personal budget to think about as well as the budgets of the remaining people in your group in terms of the activities that group members can do together.
Must-sees, activities, special events. For some travelers, a particular destination is desirable because of a special event such as Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.
Not only will the dates of your trip have to coincide with the dates of the event, but your trip may have to revolve around this event in many other ways — having accommodations near the event site, additional budget allocated for the event, and transportation to and from the event. Another example would be if you wanted to hike to historic Inca Trail up to the lost city of Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu, Peru
In this instance, you may want to book a guided tour months in advance and determine your itinerary around that hiking adventure. Definitely consider these components of your future vacation as you think about the possible location that you may want to go to.
Sources of inspiration. Now, this can actually be the very first step as you start to really consider certain locations over others. Photos and stories have a special way of evoking emotions and can let us live vicariously through others. This is why checking out various forms of inspiration can be key as you think about your next vacation. Consume information from a variety of sources, here’s a link to Photos From Around the World to Inspire Your Next Vacation. Additional sources that are rather popular are Pinterest (do we have one of those?), Instagram and the blogs of other travelers. Allowing yourself to browse through a plethora of destinations often has a way of elevating certain ones above others. Find photos that stir your soul and give you the travel butterflies — what do you need to see, now?!
Environment, culture, weather, food. These have been grouped together because they often go hand in hand. Are you drawn to sunny beaches, gloomy overcast days, or alpine lakes set in a vast mountain landscape? Every traveler is unique in their destination preferences, really think about where you will be happy. Additionally, think about the time of year that you will be traveling and the various climates that your potential locations may put you in. Traveling in January? Perhaps you don’t want to experience a deep Scandinavian winter!
Opt for locations that will have your own personal desired weather. As you look for inspiration for your next trip, you may come across cultures and different types of food that interest you. These are all important to consider when you consider the location you may want to visit.
Who will be traveling? Whether its with a group, going solo, a couples trip, traveling with elderly folks or younger children, this will be indicative of the nature of your vacation. For example, traveling with a family will open up a whole different itinerary from those traveling in their later years looking for something such as a relaxing cruise.
So, where does this leave you? Hopefully after the consideration of all of these factors, your choices have been narrowed down and become manageable. With such a vast expanse to explore, we don’t want you to be overwhelmed with locations. Consider your options, time constraints, budget, special events, and more as you think about where to go next!
When you’re ready — or if you need help on deciding your location and want to learn more — we’re here to help you plan your dream trip!
Direct flights. While direct flights are typically sought after, they can be especially life-saving for those traveling with children. The less time you spend wandering through terminals with little ones and baggage, the more likely everyone is to arrive in a positive mood and ready for vacation.
Bring snacks and treats. Airports and popular attractions jack up the cost for everything — don’t be caught without snacks throughout the day and end up spending far too much money on them. Keeping treats handy can help reward children for positive behavior when you’re in unfamiliar locations and situations.
Stock up a tablet. Travel days will leave you with seemingly endless empty hours and restless children. Books, movies, and games on a tablet game while away a chunk of that time when there are limited options for entertainment.
Get the insurance. Do it. While travel insurance is certainly recommended for all travelers, don’t take your chances with children that are more susceptible to foreign places and germs. Getting travel insurance will help you keep your peace of mind throughout the trip as well as ease tensions and stress if something does arise.
Choose your destination wisely. Depending on your needs as a family when traveling, think about the particulars of a destination as you think about where you would like to go. We can help with this — knowing the ins and outs of a country and destinations allows us to make recommendations based on this type of travel.
Cut down on luggage and rent! It’s already difficult enough toting around your own luggage and managing to remember everything. There are many popular destinations that have rentals — playpens, strollers, cribs and more that are available to rent. Try and keep your travels as stress-free as possible and you and the whole family will have a much more enjoyable time.
Slow down. There are few things that can bring the mood of a vacation down than tired, grumpy kids. This tip can be a trip-saver. While it’s tempting to want to cram a lot of activities and attractions into your short vacation time, more often than not your trip as a whole will be more enjoyable if you slow down. Make a clear list of your absolutely “must-see’s” and we’ll help to plan a trip around those. Cram a plethora of activities into a short period and the children as well as the adults may find themselves worn out and unhappy.
There is something ethereal about Sweden. Walking across the bridges that connect the 14 island archipelago of Stockholm, your mind can begin to place a tab on some of the things that make this country and its people so unique. Maybe it’s the immaculate streets void of any litter or the cheery bright-eyed Swedes that you come into contact with. The essence of Stockholm extends far beyond these simple matters — as you cross each bridge into a different part of the city, there is an entirely different feel. The heart of the city, Gamla Stan — or Old Town, is full of towering medieval structures washed in burnt oranges and creamy marigolds. As your feet conquer the uneven cobblestone streets, the sweet smells of breads and ice cream shops making fresh waffle cones putters you along. There are seemingly endless narrow streets throughout Gamla Stan and when you hop off the main street of Kopmangatan, you’ll find some of the most picturesque narrow alleyways all to yourself.
Pop out to the outskirts of the streets and it will seem like a completely different world, full of pointy building and endless water.
Other areas of Stockholm offer shops full of traditional nicnacs, restaurants with menus only in Swedish — not to worry, it seems every Swede speaks English as though it’s a first language, or cafes to sit and people watch. One of the most cherished traditions in Swedish culture is that of fika, a simple aspect of daily life. To outsiders, fika may seem to be just a coffee break, but to sit down and enjoy fika will have you wondering why this isn’t a part of daily life, everywhere. The essence of fika is to slow down. What makes this unique from a regular coffee break is that it is generally enjoyed with a tasty baked good to pair it with. Within virtually no time at all, you will find yourself at cafes throughout the city, taking an easy fika break as if you’ve been doing it your entire existence. It’s a truly pleasurable way to pass time, catching glimpses of the daily lives of Swedish city dwellers and staying up to date on the undeniable stylish garb of nearly everyone. Enjoy fika The countryside of Sweden is altogether perfect, in every way. An eight hour train ride from Stockholm through the countryside to Oslo, Norway proved endlessly breathtaking. I had allocated these eight hours for catching up on lost sleep and although truly exhausted from adventuring and exploring the vast city of Stockholm, I could not sleep. As I would begin to doze off, the train would round a corner and the next breathtaking scene would unfold. With impossibly blue sky and rich velvety green empty fields scattering the landscape, the only thing to see is clear lakes reflecting the crisp clouds, vibrant yellow flower fields and the iconic red houses and barns dotting the scenery. Needless to say, not catching up on sleep as planned during this train ride was well worth it and something that my mind plays loops of constantly.
If you want to experience a sweet fika break in a sidewalk cafe or take a dip in the crystal clear lakes of the Swedish countryside, we’d love to help you find your way there!
Ireland is really something, it is. To start, the Irish are…overtly kind, cheery, full of genuine belly laughs and truly invested in the fact that you see the wonders of their country. Carrying with me a notebook to write down some locals recommendations for food, music and sights, it felt as if every local I engaged in conversation was fully vested in my satisfaction with Ireland. They wanted to make sure I saw every sight and tasted every variation of delicious pub fare. An afternoon in a dark pub full of a few regulars in the country town of Killarney gave me a glimpse into the true charm of Ireland. Loaded down with a backpack and looking for a cold drink, I found myself at a pub — the bartender a spry, bright eyed woman easily over the age of 70 with a tiny bar dog named Gin. I ordered a Smithwick’s and she gave me a sly smile and then erupted in a warm laugh. She was kind enough to correct my pronunciation of Smithwick’s beer from Smithwick’s to Smit-icks. Followed by, “darlin’ you’ve been here how long and not one of us has set ya straight dear?”
The melodic upbeat tones of flute, fiddle, pin whistle and accordion waft through the streets of Dublin, equally as delicious as the pub fare — one can’t help but be drawn into the live music, seemingly on every corner. Even the most sincere wall flower is coaxed into tapping their foot along and joining into the fun. The Temple Bar area is wall to wall live music, friendly locals and tourists alike. Spending two nights in a row at the same pub conversing with bartenders and patrons alike can only end well — in my case a Liam Neeson lookalike bartender will not only let you come behind the bar for a photo with him, but when an extra accidental hot toddy is made — it gets passed your way.
As 5am rolls around, I found myself among friends from around the world and went for a sunrise bike ride around Dublin. Am I an avid bike rider? No. But, when in Dublin and someone offers you a free tour around the city, it’s in your very best interest to take that chance. Not only did I get to experience the city traffic-free, I was able to see a Dublin that not many tourists get to. A stop off in the Docklands to see the Famine Memorial and learn about the Potato Famine, whipping rides across empty bridges over the River Liffey and learning about the Christ Church Cathedral while sitting on the stoop is not something that I will forget shortly.
One of the main sights to be seen in Dublin is the Guinness Factory. Even for those that are not fans of this darker beer, the factory will simply give an insight into the significance that Guinness has played throughout Irish history including old posters and advertisements as well as a really great gift store to pick up some memorabilia. Take a quick course to learn the proper pouring technique that should be used for every pint of Guinness and discover just how “The Black Stuff” is made.
There are few places that carry the energy and uniqueness of Dublin, I suggest you find out for yourself what this city holds for you!
The charm of Killarney is undeniable. Here, you’ll find yourself in the Irish countryside. The small town of Killarney is littered with small pubs, treat shoppes and picturesque with flags from every nation hanging above the streets. I was situated in Dunloe, a quick 20 minute bike ride from Killarney. I made arrangements to make my way through the Gap of Dunloe, a narrow passageway through mountains. On my second day, a bus picked me up — on the side of the road. Not a bus stop, no formal markings. A kind Irish man simply called the bus driver and told him I would be waiting on the side of the road, so I settled myself on top of the fence and waited (Avoid these silly happenings and let us book your tour in advanced). The 11km of the way through the Gap of Dunloe wound through Killarney National Park, passed small lakes, crumbling stone houses, and friendly sheep — lots of sheep. There are several ways to make this trek, by horse drawn carriage, by bike or on foot. I opted for on foot because I’m a lingerer. Also so I could climb and wander and try to pet sheep.
The end of the hike wraps up with a ferry ride across Lough Leane led by an elderly Irishman speaking about the history of the area. I can say with confidence, I did not catch a word of what he said. Between the wind gusts, motor of the ferry and his exceptionally thick accent, his words were lost on me, but full of character none the less.
The Gap of Dunloe is definitely a must and will give you a glimpse of the Irish countryside as well as the history and people. Save yourself some waiting on the side of the road for a bus and book your Ireland vacation with us!