Many people get stuck on where to travel to and what the perfect destination is. Traveling isn't about finding the perfect destination, it's a about finding the perfect destination for YOU. I love traveling to places on the water, preferably with a beach somewhere with lots of sun. Like one of my friends, you may be scared of the sun and wear big hats and SPF 100 every time you step outside. This is why it's so important to do a lot of work at home before you go. These 5 tips are a great start to find the right place for you.
1) RESEARCH-I can't stress the importance of researching a destination as much as you can before you buy your tickets. Make sure you know what you're getting into before you spend all your savings. Some great questions to ask while you're researching....What languages do they speak? Is it easy to get around when I'm there? Is it safe? What season will it be when I'm there? Is this a spot I have been dying to see or don't care too much (don't just go for the hell of it!) Do I need a visa/passport? What is the exchange rate? Make sure you "travel from home" before you buy and know what you're getting into.
2) NARROW IT DOWN-Finding a great place can be a bit overwhelming with thousands of options all over the world. Figure out exactly what you're looking for first (exploring, leisure, party...), think of 3 countries that would be great for what you're looking for (Rio would be great for partying, an island in the Caribbean for leisure), look up flights and see what is actually affordable in those 3 places (this is usually always what determines it for me, some flights are $2,000+), see what the top things to do in each destination are.
3) TOUR GROUP OR NOT-This all depends how much time and how many abilities you have. If you’re not going with a tour group, you should have at least 2-3 months to plan your trip, it takes a lot of time to figure out tours, places to stay, things to do for a long vacation! It is also a good idea to use a tour group if you are traveling alone and/or don’t speak the language (there are a lot of places that do not speak English, especially the non-touristy places). If you are using a tour group, just make sure the group can still fit you in, you can get a reasonable flight, and you can get proper travel documents (visas can take a while!). You can book in as little as 2 weeks before if you decide to go with a group!
4) WHAT WILL THIS COST ME?-The great thing about going to non-touristy places is that they are usually cheaper than really touristy places. This is not always the case though. Make sure you look up what the costs are so you know if you can actually afford to travel there. Easy way to this is by looking up local restaurants; see what the menu is like. Trust me, there is nothing worse than getting to your awesome destination and realizing you only have enough money for 2 days…..no one wants to eat Ramen Noodles on their vacation!
5) ASK YOUR FRIENDS-I tend to be a bit impulsive when it comes to going on vacation, usually I’ll find somewhere I want to go and start booking my flight 5 minutes later. Don’t do this. After you have done all your research, run it by a friend and make sure it’s not absolutely ridiculous and you’re throwing your money away. My friend politely told me going to Egypt right now would not be a good idea….I was unaware that 2 Americans were being held captive at the time.
2 weeks ago I traveled around South America in Argentina and Brazil. Every place was incredible, but there was one place in particular that was beyond incredible: Ilha Grande. Ilha Grande (pronounced Illa Granje in Portuguese) is an island a bit off the coast of Rio. 5,000 people live there, not too sure where because there are only 2 towns where more than 10 people live and there definitely weren’t close to 5,000 people in them, but anyways it is very quiet and isolated, no cars at all you have to get everywhere by boat or walking. All the so called tourists were from Brazil, just there for the weekend. My group had the only American people on the island. The most amazing part was the Lopes Mendes and the hike to it. It is a 2 and half hour hike through the mountains (all rainforest) to the other side of the island. When you get there, you are literally lost for words. White powder sand, blue water, all surrounded by mountains and completely secluded, boats can’t even get near this beach! I took pictures but they don’t do any justice. Another awesome place was the black sand beach. It’s black due to all the minerals. Ilha Grande is a magical place; people are so nice, relaxed, and just want to enjoy life. Highly recommend!