I’ve always been a big believer that travel is an easy thing to do. Want to go somewhere? Book a ticket. If it’s somewhere local, book the hotel, camping site, whatever.

If you’ve got one big thing booked, then you’re forced to figure out all the other parts of the plan.

Obviously there are other factors that come into this — children, partners, getting leave off work, financial issues, not wanting to travel alone etc. — but I think the basic premise remains the same.

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But for me the biggest travel drama this year is not figuring how I can afford it or when my boyfriend and I can both get time off work, it’s figuring out where the bloody hell to go.

Sure, it’s all about the journey not the destination and all that hoo-hah, but picking the destination is critical. It determines how much everything will cost, what time of year you should go, what kind of holiday it will be (relaxing? adventuring?) and what you’re likely to do when you’re there. Travel around? Stay in one spot? Experience another culture? The options are endless.

Last December/January we spent three weeks in Argentina — beautiful 30 degree days but more expensive then we’d planned. The year before it was Vietnam — great food but too cold to laze by the pool. In 2010 I went to New York and Washington DC — freezing temperatures, but full of wonderful galleries and museums.

The years before that were the glorious years of student travel life, where I could jet off for six or seven weeks straight during uni holidays and not worry if I had to quit my crappy retail job. Meaning, I had a lovely time wandering Spain, France, Germany, Morocco, Ukraine, India, Japan, Thailand, the US and the UK, amongst others.

Except now I’m realising that when you only get one decent holiday a year, the destination counts. A lot. And yes, I am particularly talking about overseas here, I do travel regularly across Australia — last year’s weekends away included Sydney, Hobart, Canberra, Warburton and the Murray River — but one of my current life goals is a trip overseas every year.

My current dream holidays include:

  • Visiting my adopted Spanish host family and friends scattered across Spain (plus an eating tour of Spain)
  • Riding around Italy on a Vespa (specifically to Cinque Terre and/or the Amalfi Coast)
  • An eating tour of Sicily (mainly inspired by this, a brochure I helped edit)
  • Going on the Trans Siberian railway from Moscow to Beijing
  • An eating tour of Europe more broadly, trying restaurants like Copenhagen’s NOMA, England’s Ottolenghi etc
  • Visiting my sister in Kenya and going on safari
  • Visiting a friend who returned to South Africa last year after a decade of living in Oz
  • A roadtrip across the southern states of the US (and attending South by Southwest)
  • Taking my boyfriend to New York to convince him that he’ll want to move there one day
  • Spanish classes in Mexico
  • Going to Bali since people keep telling me it’s amazing if you avoid Kuta
  • Eating all the dumplings in China
  • Drinking tea and walking the markets of Istanbul, Turkey
  • Backpacking through Cambodia and checking out Angkor Wat

I’m not sure how I’m ever going to fit/afford all these trips — and this list is only the beginning.  The dreaming part is probably the most enjoyable part of planning a trip. But the definitive choosing may be the most difficult.

How do you decide? What’s on your life list of the things you must see or do? What are the biggest influencers in choosing your destination — price, weather, time of the year, food, amazing must-see tourist attraction you just have to tick off the bucket list?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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