Some of us are lucky enough to be able to travel for months, even years at a time. Most however, are not so lucky; mainly because they have jobs. They get a month of vacation if they’re in Europe, a few weeks in Asia or a twenty minute break in the US. When you only have a limited time off for travel, choosing the correct destination—and, more importantly, the correct type of travel—becomes vital. But how do you choose?
It’s simple really. I’ll give you a few questions to ask yourself and tell you what type of vacation you need and where you could go. Alternatively, you could use common sense and figure it out on your own.
Do you care about people?
I know, I laughed when I wrote that too; but I have actually met some people during my travels who care about others and get a kick out of helping them. I blame their upbringing. If you are one of these people, you might want to look into volunteering abroad. You can basically name a third-world country and there will be numerous programs that help you find volunteer opportunities in that country.
Unfortunately, many of those programs will be scams, but a little bit of research will easily identify the legitimate ones. As a first step, look at the cost. Yes, I know paying to volunteer seems counter-intuitive, but with a legitimate program, you are mainly paying for your room and board.
Be wary of programs that charge several thousand dollars for a few weeks of volunteering in a country where several thousand dollars could support you for five years. Most programs will put you up with a local family and then pay that family fair compensation. If you are paying thousands of dollars, who do you think keeps the rest? Hint: it’s not the family.
Popular destinations for volunteers include: Nepal, Peru, Thailand, India, Kenya, Laos, etc.
Do you prefer to not remember any of your trip?
If you want to return from your vacation knowing you had a great time, but not really remembering how or why you did, then you need a party destination—preferably one with a beach on which to spend your days recovering from your nights. Basically, you will spend your nights drinking and dancing in a (usually foam-filled) club or outdoors on a beach and when the sun comes up, you start thinking about going to bed.
Eventually, you do actually go to bed for an hour or two; then you drag yourself to the beach and pass out for a few more hours in the sun. You’ll probably wake up with a hideous sunburn, but when you never do anything until after dark and everything you do then has you surrounded by drunk people, who cares?
Popular party destinations include: Ibiza in Spain, Ios in Greece, Koh Phangnan in Thailand, etc.
Do you have money and hate foreigners?
If so, you are definitely going to want to stay at an all-inclusive resort. You can go anywhere in the world and barely even have to deal with the filthy locals. True, there will be a few of them working at the resort—cooking and serving your food, cleaning up your mess, carrying your luggage, etc.—but any good resort will require them to shower occasionally and to wear a western-tourist-approved local costume in lieu of their own hideous clothes.
Other than that, you might be pressured into making a few excursions out of your resort and into the actual foreign country, but you will be provided with an air-conditioned van to move you around and an English speaking guide to handle any and all interactions with the locals. All you have to do is get out of the van for a minute or two to snap some pictures and you’ll be back at your resort in no time. You may even get away with just cracking a window and leaning out with your camera.
And don’t worry about having to choke down the disgusting local cuisine. Your resort will offer plenty of western food lightly disguised as local food. You get the best of both worlds—you can say you’ve eaten exotic local foods, but you won’t have to put up with the actual exotic local flavors. It will taste just like home.
Popular destinations with resorts include: the Caribbean, Thailand, India, Costa Rica, Mexico, etc.
Does time off work sound too relaxing?
Then you need to go trekking. Unless you work in the United States. Sorry, Americans, but any good trek will take at least a week, so most of you won’t be able to get the time off work. But everyone else who hates relaxing and unwinding is free to spend their entire vacation walking.
And not just walking; walking with a gigantic, heavy bag strapped to their backs, maneuvering their way over slippery rocks and muddy trails, through streams and leech infested shrubs, dodging donkeys and wild dogs and doing all of it while either being frozen solid or dripping sweat from every pore.
Popular trekking destinations include: Nepal, Peru, India, New Zealand, etc.
No matter your preference, the world has a destination for you and the internet has a deal. Whether you need a ticket to the Himalayas to spend a few weeks scrambling over rocks like a goat; or you want that perfect weekend in Ibiza you won’t remember for the rest of your life; or you are looking for a memorable foreign vacation without all the foreignness; or you’d like an opportunity to do some good, because…who knows why you’d want that. The point is, in this day and age you can have the exact vacation you desire. You just need the time or the money and preferably both. So, if you’re like most people, I guess that means you stay home.
Bellhop photo courtesy of Anushruti RK.