Travel has never been easier or more accessible, but for those of us in the grips of wanderlust, it can be difficult to even know where to begin. There are so many choices and options, it can seem overwhelming - and choosing a travel option that really suits you can be tricky.
Regardless of whether you're an experienced and world-wise traveller, or setting off on your first global adventure, choosing your next travel experience will require some time and thought. The factors that will influence this decision will be different for everyone, and will inevitably require some careful consideration.
There are all kinds of things you'll need to think about, from your budget to how much time (if any) you'll need to take off work, and it can be easy to get lost in the complexity of it all. However, making the right travel choice doesn't need to be a stressful or frustrating experience - in fact it can be quite enjoyable. Simply taking a logical and mindful approach can help you identify the perfect travel experience for you.
Thinking about why you want to travel
First and foremost, it's crucial to ask yourself the question - 'Why do I want to travel?'. It can be easy to get hooked on the abstract idea of going travelling without giving it any really specific thought, and doing so can help to put things in perspective. The reasons we travel are numerous, and deeply personal, so taking a moment to reconnect with this is a great place to start.
A few things to bear in mind include your intentions - will you want to work and live somewhere for an extended period of time, or move on regularly? Do you have itchy feet, and like to absorb as much culture in as many new places as possible, or do you prefer to put down roots somewhere for a longer period, assimilating with the location as much as you can?
One of the most poignant things to come to terms with is whether you want to travel to give or to get. Some of us prefer to give something back to the communities we visit, either by working, teaching or volunteering, whereas others prefer to travel for their own gain, either simply to have fun or enrich our lives. There is no right or wrong, better or worse - but coming to terms with that you hope to get from your travels is a fundamental starting point.
Factoring in budget
Whatever your priorities and preferences, budget is going to have a big impact on your options. Again, a lot of this will depend on your intentions when travelling - if you're planning on visiting multiple countries or locations, for instance, the cost of your flights and transport is likely to be higher.
You'll also need to bear in mind the economy and cost of living of the places you want to visit. If you're planning to work as you travel, countries like Switzerland and Iceland have an extremely high cost of living, whereas countries in Southeast Asia, including Thailand and Vietnam, are far cheaper.
If you're planning on spending a short period of time travelling, budgeting can be relatively straightforward, and working out how much money you have to spend can be easy. If, however your intentions are to travel frequently, you may need to do some more long-term planning. You could consider something like loyalty schemes with airlines, or if you have the capital you might even look into joining a property investment fund, which could enable you to travel all over the world.
Deciding on a location
One of the most important questions you'll need to answer is exactly where you want to visit. Many of us will have a few places we've always dreamed of seeing, and these can be the perfect place to start, but don't be afraid to consider somewhere you'd never thought of before. One idea is to make a list of places you've never even heard of, and use this as inspiration for some research.
Consult the internet, read travel guides, speak to people in your network, and more generally just do some digging into places that pique your interest. When you have a few destinations in mind, try to think of all the things you'll need to factor in - look into everything from the local language, climate, culture, and even things like crime levels.
Depending on how long you plan to stay and what you intend to do while there, these things may be more, or less, significant. Nonetheless, it's always good to do some homework to avoid any surprises or disappointments upon arrival.
The main thing to remember when making your travel decisions is not to get swept away in the sheer breadth of possibilities. There are travel experiences to suit all tastes, personalities, and budgets, and it's worth taking the time to work out what would really suit you best.
With our planet becoming more interconnected and accessible than ever before, the world really is your oyster. Taking some time to work out exactly where to go - and what you want to do when you're there - can pay off hugely, and help you build some truly wonderful memories.