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Researching Travel Destinations

Written by Jared on March 18, 2011

The easiest way to start your travel planning is to make a few lists of what you want. Something you can refer back to while you're plodding through guide books and web sites. Having a list of criteria helps to keep you focused and eliminate destinations that won't work.

Personal, professional and financial choices may limit your choices. That’s not to say you can’t travel where you please. You may have to weigh options and find creative ways to deal with a location’s shortcomings. If you are a location independent professional, choosing travel destinations that can accommodate your work is crucial.

Researching a destination involves reading online resources, published materials and consulting other travelers. Start with what interests you or places others have suggested. Take notes as you read and summarize places that look interesting. Refer to our article about how to document travel research for more advice.

The goal isn’t to make a travel itinerary. Collect basic information about a wide variety of places first, then use that information to an itinerary.

Cruise ship at Cozumel after Hurricane hitDefine Your Destination Criteria

Defining criteria you will use to select potential destinations will make your research faster and easier. Before you dive into travel websites and guides, make a list of what you will need for your travels to be successful. This list will be based on how long you plan to stay, your financial situation, if you will work while traveling and personal preferences.

Try to consider the language, safety and climate of the larger region before digging into the details of specific areas. Be aware of the current political situation and the hassles (or delight) of not speaking the language.

We do our best to schedule travels to avoid nasty weather. Freezing temperatures and monsoonal rain don’t make a trip impossible, just less fun.

Below are several lists of criteria that we look for when researching travel destinations:

General Criteria

  • Agreeable weather
  • Regional safety
  • Language difficulties
  • Entry requirements (Visas & immunizations)
  • Available transportation

Personal Preferences

  • Cultural significance
  • Proximity to UNESCO sites
  • Off the beaten path
  • Not a tourist trap

Services We Need Often

  • Shower
  • Food market
  • Internet
  • Bank/ATM
  • Gas station

Accommodation Must Haves

  • Clean budget rooms or camping facilities
  • Internet access nearby
  • Power for battery charging
  • Secured parking

Services We Need Less Often

  • Laundry
  • Post
  • Electronics repair
  • Vehicle repair

Accommodation Nice to Haves

  • Private bathroom
  • Hot water
  • Wifi
  • Kitchen
  • Double room discount

Destination Research

Winter storm in the Pacific Northwest - Destination researchMake the most of free online resources for researching potential travel destinations.

Finding reliable and unbiased online resources can be difficult. Your best bet is to start with names that are familiar. Avoid sites that seem too commercial. You want useful information, not products and services.

Supplement online information with good old fashioned printed guides. Travel guides tend to be more thorough and organized. In our experience guides books do a better job of providing the logistical details you need to narrow your choices. They tend to detail transportation, accommodation and food expenses more completely and succinctly than web sites.

Use travel guides in combination with your destination criteria to help make decisions. Follow up by researching web sites to refine your decisions. Reading other people’s personal opinions and experiences may give you far more insight than a generic travel guide.

A few words of advice -- don’t put all of your faith in published materials, whether printed or online. These sources aren’t always correct and are often out of date the minute they are typed. Try to verify critical information with more than one source. A combination of trial and error, and flexibility will come in handy on the road.

One of the best resources for useful information is other travelers. They always love to swap stories and share the latest destination news. Also consider scouting new locations ahead of time. Or make long distance friends on location who can provide current information.


#1 SAJID TRAVELS 2012-11-10 15:03
travel wel

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