Not sure where to go? Here is my thought process for picking my next travel location. This travel planning process enabled me to go to over 40 countries all over the world. But of course, this is for me and might not work for everyone! The following are some questions I ask myself while I am searching for my next travel destination.

Where do you want to go?

The biggest thought process for me is where do I want to go. The best example is when I wanted to go to the Philippines. At the time, I was located in Europe. So the distance between the two are quite large. I didn’t know how I was getting there or when, just I wanted to go.

Another example is that I wanted to celebrate my birthday in Cambodia. How long do I spend there? How do I get there? When exactly do I go?

I have my final destination, but I only needed to figure out my journey to there. The next questions helped me with these questions.

Philippines as a travel destination

Where do I not want to be?

Ok yes, you don’t want to be home, you want to be traveling. But here is an example of what I mean when I say where I do not want to be.

When I was in Europe without a work visa, just a regular tourist visa, my time in the Schengen Zone was limited to 90 days within a 180 day period. I didn’t want to be in the Schengen Zone in order to maintain my days for later, for other travel plans that I might have in the Schengen Zone. So, I looked for places that were outside the zone that had different tourist visa rules.

Barcelona as a travel destination
Barcelona, Spain

Another way of looking at this is, are there visa restrictions? For the Philippines, tourists are allowed 30 days without a visa. After completing 30 days, I wanted to stay longer, but how do I go about doing that? I decided to travel to Taiwan for a week to reset my tourist visa then to come back to the Philippines.

This also works with Argentina as well and many do, crossing into Chile or Uruguay and then crossing back to get a tourist visa refresh. I recommend to not do this too many times as it will show in the records and the authorities might not be too impressed.

However, for travel planning purposes, these are good things to keep in mind. As I mentioned for Schengen Zone, there is that 180 day period so leaving and coming back in the next day doesn’t work as it would with the Philippines or Argentina.

Be sure to research your travel destination fully before making any travel plans.

What program can I use to get there?

This has to do with Workaways or a similar program. Perhaps you want to use one of these programs and maybe they don’t have anything available in certain countries.

This is what happened to me. I wanted to use Workaway, but I didn’t know where. I also wanted to get out of the Schengen Zone. Later, I found a situation in Serbia, which covered both criteria for me.

Serbia as a travel destination
Belgrade, Serbia

At one point, I wanted to be an Au Pair in Spain. If you have your travel destination in mind, but not sure how to get there, be sure to check out these programs. Or, like me, if you want to use this program, but not sure where…there are so many travel options and planning resources you can use to find your next travel destination!

How do I get there?

Going back to traveling to the Philippines from Europe, I was looking at direct (with layovers) flights. I found they were quite expensive. However, I found one flight that had a layover in China. I found this interesting and thought, maybe I will stay in China for a little bit and explore.

When I looked at the flights from Europe to China then to the Philippines, this trip was significantly cheaper than going straight to the Philippines. Well, decision made. I was heading to China for a few weeks.

This also happened to correspond with Chinese New Year’s which was an amazing opportunity! For those going to China, please also be advised you need a tourist visa from the embassy.

China as a travel destination
Some Chinese Decorations

Since I wanted to celebrate my birthday in Cambodia, there were a few days that I had to cover from the Philippines to my time in Cambodia. I thought spending 3 weeks in Cambodia was a bit much, but as I soon learned, there is a lot to do there! However, before I knew that, I decided to spend 2 weeks in Cambodia and use that extra week in Malaysia. Both countries are close together so flying from the Philippines to Malaysia then heading to Cambodia was a logical route.

Where do I have friends?

I don’t mean, where can I not travel solo. I am a big proponent on traveling solo! If you would like to travel with someone else or a group, by all means, but if you want to travel- just go! Don’t want for anyone! If their plans align with yours, all the better!

Another way to help you decide where to go next is to see where your international friends lived. When I graduated university, I wasn’t sure where to start first in my travels. I remembered a long term friend that was living in Budapest. I messaged her and she welcomed me into her home.

When I went to China, I also remembered I had a few friends in mainland as well as in Hong Kong, which helped me decide even further.

I always try to see if I can see friends especially if they live in far away countries, but sometimes I also try to meet up with friends at a particular travel destination. A Czech friend of mine wanted to travel with me and she picked China. So, after spending time in the Philippines, I headed over back to China again to meet her. I made sure to time my Cambodia trip right before my second time in China in order to shorten my travel time between countries. Cambodia borders China in the north so, my flight was like 3 hours.

A friend with me in China as a travel destination
In Zhangiajie, China

Most of the time I travel by the seat of my pants or for another cliche, where the wind takes me. There is some logic to my planning, but I try not planning too much to allow for things to come.

I understand that not everyone has the time flexibility to be as nonchalant as I was in my travels, but I hope these questions and my examples of what I have done has helped you plan your next travel destination.

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