Nothing sparks your creative flame quite like travel does. Exotic locations, historical stages, and the overwhelming awe of nature’s sublimity have inspired the masters the makers and the dreamers since the dawn of civilization. Personally, when I’m abroad, my metaphors spill beautifully from my pen and my thoughts converge faster than I can write.
Picking a destination to fuel your fire can seem daunting with dozens of factors to consider. Don’t be overwhelmed — your adventure awaits! Follow these six steps and I promise the globe will shrink and your perfect soul-inspiring getaway will come into view.
1.) Select Five Activities
People seek inspiration in a variety of ways, from meditating on a sustainable wooden platform surrounded by the sounds of the forest,to shredding down a double black diamond in fresh powder. Whether you seek the passive or agro approach to inspiration, you must first define the activities that are a prerequisite to your perfect getaway. Once you are able to clearly articulate your ideal scenarios the destination options start to come into focus.
Hint: The world is a giant place ,so don’t limit yourself. Think BIG, but try to loosely stick to a theme. In other words, if yoga overlooking the endless shades of green and blue of the ocean is a must-do, it’s unlikely that dogsledding can also be checked off the list. Don’t afraid to be specific.
My sample list:
–Go on at least three dives in warm water teeming with wildlife
–Have an option to spend an entire day on a beautiful and quiet beach with my kindle and beer
–Tour ancient ruins
–Interact with the locals and an indigenous culture.
–Spend at least three nights in an high end eco-lodge surrounded by the sounds of nature with ample opportunities for adventure and spa treatments
2.) Pick the Season and Hemisphere
Now you need to figure out what time of year you are able to travel and hence which hemisphere will support your adventure. This step is crucial to creating the ideal setting for some serious mental sharpening. There is nothing worse than being stuck inside a room because you decided to visit SE Asia in the monsoon season or wine country when its hitting triple digits. Once you’ve completed this step entire swaths of the globe should be eliminated and specific regions should start to present themselves.
My sample season and hemisphere:
If I want to travel in late May / early June, then based on my activity list above and the amount of time I have to travel (two weeks), I am looking at Mexico/Central America region, Europe, parts of the Pacific, and a few other very remote destinations.
Hint: Really do your research! Just because a region might be in their wet season doesn’t mean its likely to rain. Look at historical weather data (average precipitation, cloud cover, temperature, etc) and select an area where the weather gods are in your statistical favor.
3.) Determine Your Budget and Prioritize Your Spending
How much can you spend on this entire adventure and how does that match up to your list? Where would you prefer to spend the bulk of your money. Is it on the flight? On five star accommodations? Or is a day packed with adventure more important than a bed with Egyptian Cotton Sheets?
If your budget is limited and your expectation huge then consider traveling in some more ‘rustic’ destinations. Consider the wine regions of Chile and Argentina versus Tuscany and Bordeaux. Snorkel the crystal waters of Belize instead of Oahu. Visit Angkor Wat instead of the Coliseum.
My sample budget and list of priorities:
I have two weeks and want to spend a maximum of $2500 including flight.
After some research flights from SFO to:
Europe average = $1200-1500
Central America average $500-700
I would prefer to spend on average $50/night on accommodation and want to go on some adventures (diving, ziplining, rafting) that will cost anywhere from $100-300 each. And according to my list I want a few nights in an upscale eco-lodge which will cost about $150/night.
4.) Find a Location BEFORE it Becomes Trendy
Unless you want to be lost in a sea of loud and demanding tourists wearing matching sweat suits and sneakers find those locations that aren’t on the top of every MUST TRAVEL. Find that location that is on the cusp on being the next it place, blaze the traveler trail for others to follow. Imagine 15 years ago Colombia was one of the most dangerous countries on the planet, but now its a major travel hotspot with beautiful Caribbean islands, unbelievable nightlife and probably one of the coolest and most talked about cities in Medellin. But how do you find out these spots?
–Ask your trusted traveler buddies. The sweetest secret spots are not secret at all to the traveler community. Engage your friends who share that same spark that you do, the chances are they have been or are planning a trip to somewhere where you can fulfill your need for inspiration.
–Blogs and message boards. Find your like-minded community online and see what they are buzzing about. Post questions on travel message boards. Read reviews, and check out the neverending listicals. There are more travel blogs on the web than countries on the planet…so get searching.
–Find the top 10 spots for the activities you listed in step 1. For instance, if beautiful beaches are your thing then search for the top 10 beaches, then top 10 dive sites, then top 10 eco lodges, etc…The matrix of your results will no doubt crystalize where you must go.
5.) Build a Loose Itinerary
By now you have most likely narrowed your destination to 1-2 locales. Do your research and start building a loose itinerary based on your activity list. When I travel I tend to only book my first few nights as well as the night before I return. I then map out the path I will most likely follow. I prefer not to be too locked into reservations unless I absolutely have to. I always leave room for some spontaneity as often times some of the best and most inspiring spots are learned about once you are already in the country. Don’t overbook yourself, leave space to soak in the experience and charge your creativity.
Hint: Things in keep in mind when creating your itinerary. Is it high season? If so, rooms might be more expensive and harder to come by and therefore reservations might be 100% necessary. Are there any festivals, large events or local holidays? Don’t get stuck without a room because it happens to the weekend that the entire population descends on a city to celebrate a holiday you have never heard of…do your research.
Now, read up! You’ve clicked BUY on your airline ticket and taken the most important step. You couldn’t be more excited to get unstuck and set your creativity on fire, what can I do to prepare for this experience. I suggest you READ. Whether you like fiction or nonfiction, there is no better way to build your excitement and learn a thing or two about your destination. Who are the most famous authors or poets from your destination country and what inspired them? Are there tales of others who have journeyed there? Which travel guides fit your style of adventure? Once I select and ultimately reach my destination, my Kindle is full of material from biographies, to poetry, travel guides, and works from the country’s most important authors.