If you’re like me, you have a million and one destinations that you can’t wait to visit. My bucket list is a long one, and hopefully one day I’ll be lucky enough to have checked them all off!
As much as I wish I could travel full time, that’s just not my reality right now, so I try to maximize the vacation days that I DO have, by prioritizing places that I want to see.
The problem? Things get in the way. Life, work, budgets, family obligations, etc. And before you know it, you’ve either spent your vacation time doing things that you only sort of want to do, or you decide to just go somewhere easy / cheap / quick because it’s the path of least resistance.
I operated this way for a few years, and found that it just left me feeling frustrated. Time was flying by so quickly, my travel bucket list was growing, and my wanderlust wasn’t anywhere near being cured. I ended up spending a big portion of my travel budget and vacation days on things like weekends in Las Vegas – not that there’s anything wrong with that (I enjoyed every minute) – but I wasn’t going anywhere NEW.
I needed a plan. A plan for planning travel. But I had no idea how to approach this with any sort of structure.
So in the midst of this mental chaos, I sought solace by creating a spreadsheet.
I divided my travel wishes into three categories: weekend trips, week-long trips and 2-week trips.
Then I went through my wishlist, just off the top of my head, and organized each destination by category. A few examples:
Weekend trips: Portland, Austin, the Hamptons, Savannah, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite
Week-long trips: Lanai, Maine, Florida Keys, Croatia, Scotland, Turks & Caicos, Italy’s Amalfi coast, Spain, Sardinia, French Riviera, Buenos Aires
2-weeks or longer trips: South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, the Maldives
And so on – these are just a snippet of my three (very long) lists. Obviously, for any of these destinations, one could certainly spend way more time than what I’ve outlined here – and if I had more vacation time, I would! But for now, these categories work for me.
Then, I went through my list and gave each destination a score of 1-10, with 10 being the ones I MOST wanted to go to. The best of the best, if you will.
It was simple, but effective.
I did this exercise with Mr. Belle Voyage over some wine one night, and when we were done, we compared our lists. There were a few trips that we BOTH reeeeeally wanted to do – like South Africa. Some were high on my list (French Riviera) and he could have cared less about. Some were high on his list (Antarctica) that I knew I could probably live without seeing.
So now I have a plan! With this plan, the travel planning for 2016 is already underway. Stay tuned for more details on what’s getting crossed off the list next year!
How do you decide where to go next?
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