When this post goes live, I’ll be cozied up in an economy seat on my way to San Francisco, CA then on to Yosemite National Park. Well, more likely stuck in the middle seat trying to avoid resting my head on the stranger next to me, but that’s neither here nor there. This isn’t a new trip for me and even I am shocked that I’m heading back to the exact place I visited a few years earlier. But, as they say, I left my heart in San Francisco and I keep coming back for more. It could be due to the political haze hanging over D.C., but I’m in dire need of some west coast sun.
As I packed up my winter jackets and hiking boots last week for the five days we’re spending exploring the redwoods and sequoias, I attempted to pinpoint why, exactly, I chose to go to Yosemite, CA in the cold. I had imagined April might lead way to a little more spring-like temperatures in the park, but that turned out to be a false conclusion as soon as you step away from Yosemite Village. So, fleece leggings and wool gloves it is.
Inspiration for a trip usually strikes when I’m not expecting it…scrolling through my Instagram feed and stopping short on the straw huts in the Maldives, or eavesdropping on my neighbor’s recent trip to the south of France. If I’m anything, I’m eager to a fault. It can take a mere thirty seconds for me to go from oh-that-looks-nice to what-are-the-local-airports-I’m-booking-this-trip-NOW. So how do I chose where my next adventure should take me? My full time job and bank account are the first reality check, but after that, the world is fair game.
TBH, the expense of traveling has to be worth more than a well-liked photo edited to perfection.
Establish Your Intention
We all define vacation differently. While some enjoy some R&R by the pool, others might find hang gliding through the Grand Canyon the way to let loose. Before you can plan any further, ask yourself what the overall goal is of your trip. Is it to become rejuvenated? Perhaps consider a retreat that focuses on well-being. Maybe you’re looking for new experiences out of your comfort zone? Hiking Manchu Picchu might be on your radar.
Check Your Budget
There are a lot of factors that come into play when it comes to pricing a trip. Consider setting a side a portion of your pay check each week for your ‘travel fund’. The most important part of saving up is determining whether you’d like to have a bunch of little trips throughout the year or save up for your dream excursion. Once you have the numbers down, you can plan accordingly by estimating flights and boarding. While I fully support splurging on once-in-lifetime-moments, make sure it is something that will not be easily forgotten. Spending an exuberant amount on a Carribbean cruise won’t mean much if you hate boats.
If you can have your cake and eat it too, by all means cut another slice. But for most of us, it’s necessary to be selective with where your funds go. Aim for trips in the off-season or near major airports that offer more flight options. The same location can vary in cost drastically month to month. A beach trip in early spring can give you the peace of mind you need, but at the exchange of swimsuit weather. Jot down what is most important to you, as well as what you’re willing to compromise.
Find people like you, and ask where they like to visit. This works especially well when you’re involved in hobbies that bring you joy. When you’re on the hiking trail, ask a fellow hiker their favorite place to trek. If you like spending your time trying new dishes, ask the chef where he got his inspiration from. Even if you don’t know these people, you at least know you already have at least one passion in common.
When you’ve generated a list of ideas that comply with all of the above, read up on the ins and outs of the locales you wish to visit. There are times when you simply might not be ‘ready’for a particular adventure. It’s okay to move it towards the bottom of your bucket list because your head space isn’t ready for what that trip entails. If you’re in a point of overwhelming transition in life, a hectic schedule of planes,trains and automobiles might do more harm than good. Likewise, if you’re feeling stagnant, you might need more than a leisurely cabin in the woods to feel inspired and engaged.
Or, you know, throw that dart on the map and pack your bags. All we have is now.
How do you choose where to go next?