We’ve all been there. You’ve just returned from an amazing vacation and you’re back to work. Coming home is always nice at first, but then you start to get itchy feet and want to start planning your next trip. You know what we’re talking about. So, where to travel next?
Great question. There are several things to consider, like weather, season, budget, style of travel. To help you think through the planning process, here’s our guide to planning your next trip thoughtfully.
Things to Keep in Mind
Traditional peak seasons are evolving because of climate change. Summer is stretching into shoulder seasons due to extreme weather and crowding. Snow in Switzerland at Christmas? No longer a guarantee.
The silver lining is increased flexibility with travel planning. Weather may be warmer in certain destinations now, extending the comfortable window of time to visit. On the flip side, however, extreme temperatures are limiting travel (and life) in other ways.
One of the main vacation killers is overtourism. Imagine elbowing your way around large group tours, crowded bars and restaurants. Everyone is speaking every language except the one native to the destination you’re visiting. As a result, the very culture you came to experience is now completely diluted. No thanks. Keep reading and we’ll give you tips on how to avoid the crush.
Also, be sure to seek sustainable or even LEED certified hotels. If you’re trying to stay on the lower end of your budget, eco-chic hotels with hostel vibes are on the rise too. And as always, where ever you go, do your best to do it with a light footprint.
When To Go
Perhaps the most important thing to think about is when you want, or are able to go. Holidays will always be peak travel times. Can you afford to take time off before or after the holidays? Sometimes the best time to go somewhere is not always when the weather is the best, like Costa Rica, for example. Although these days, the weather is highly unpredictable and there isn’t as much seasonal certainty as there used to be.
One option is to look at the calendar month-by-month and see what destinations are appealing in their shoulder or off-season. Bhutan in January? Slovenia in May? Christmas in Cyprus? Check our monthly guides to find some far-flung inspiration that take seasonality and visitor numbers into account.
When it comes to natural disasters, the best thing to do is to stay away until the community has had a chance to recover and rebuild. Once they have tourism infrastructure back in place and are allowing visitors, then by all means, invest your tourism dollars there and help them get back on their feet.
Where To Go
Pick your favorite second city. Don’t know what that means? Think of the cities you know best…Paris, Rome, Amsterdam. Now think (or find) cities that have similar qualities but are smaller and less visited. For example, instead of Paris, go to Versailles. Instead of Rome, go to Pula. Instead of Amsterdam, go to Bruges.
Avoid the same places you see all over Instagram. Please. Go out of your comfort zone and discover something new. Check out the UNESCO World Heritage list, which reflects some of the world’s most valuable sites for cultural and natural diversity, for inspiration.
Another way to choose your next destination? Pick somewhere you’ve never heard of. Since 2021, the UNWTO has curated a list of Best Tourism Villages, meaning under-the-radar villages where tourism dollars have the most potential for impact. Most of these destinations are rural with vibrant cultural or culinary appeal.
How To Go
Any trip where we can avoid flying will always be our first choice. Aviation pollution is one of the largest contributors of carbon emissions, so flying should always be at the bottom of your list.
And finally, trains, buses, ferries, cars and walking are always cheaper and gentler on the planet.