I’m the kind of traveller who enjoys a well planned trip as much as a spontaneous and, at times, a recklessly disorganised one. I take enjoyment from approaching my decision-making differently each time I go away, revelling in being open to different influences and inspiration before I book.

But with a travel bucket list constantly overflowing with potential countries to visit, it can sometimes be hard to narrow it down to just one place. I’m sure many of you reading this can relate. There are a lot of important factors to consider: the weather, cost, who you are travelling with, time restrictions and so on. The planning can at times become just as overwhelming as it is enjoyable.

If the idea of looking differently at your bucket list appeals, then here are 12 thoughtful, fun and unusual ideas to inspire you to choose your next travel location a little differently.

How many of these have you done or want to do in the future?

 

1. Visit somewhere recently affected by a natural disaster

For many countries, tourism is an essential, if not the most important component of the region’s economic development. In the wake of a natural disaster such as an earthquake, tourism consequently slumps, proving detrimental to a country’s economy at a time when it needs your money the most.

Of course it is important to firstly research whether it is safe to visit on your government’s travel advice website, but visiting a country after a national trauma can directly help the livelihoods of the citizens affected by the loss of income.

You may even wish to consider joining a volunteer project or fundraising scheme to help provide emergency relief or assist with the rebuild of an affected country.

2. Choose seasonal or off-season

Whether it be to see the cherry blossoms in bloom in Japan, the Northern Lights in Norway or the autumnal fall colours of New Hampshire in the USA, researching destinations to visit when they are seasonally attractive is a great way to ensure some idyllic photos and stunning memories.

On the flip side, choosing a destination off-season or on the ‘shoulder’ season can be great if you’re on a shoestring budget, so long as you are prepared for the potential of bad weather.

In February 2017 it still hadn’t snowed in my home county of Yorkshire in England, so craving some crunchy snow underfoot and picturesque powder-white mountains, I booked a spontaneous long weekend away in Slovenia. As it was off-season (but still utterly beautiful), flights were only £30 return. Bargain!

3. Do a Skycanner ‘everywhere’ search

Another great idea for those working to a tight budget is to go on Skyscanner.net, selecting your destination to ‘everywhere’ and your dates as ‘cheapest month’ if you have the flexibility. This will then arrange the cheapest possible flights to destinations all over the world from your selected outbound airport.

Doing this is an obsession (in fact a regular hobby I have) to find the most cost-effective flights, often to places I hadn’t considered before. However after seeing a country appear on this list, I have been inspired to look it up and often find myself booking!

 

4. Dart on a map or finger on a globe

This is a bit of a fun one that I have never done but have always wanted to!

Whether you have a large wall map you can chuck something sharp at, a globe or atlas to point at blindfolded, there is something a bit romantic about giving chance a chance.

And if you don’t like your first choice, we won’t tell anyone it was best of five.

There’s something romantic about globes.. and even more so when choosing a travel destination from one

5. Let someone else choose for you

Asking a good friend or a family member to choose somewhere they think is suited to your personality and interests is a great way to find a destination you may not have initially thought about.

Perhaps you love Asian cuisine and so a street food tour of South East Asia is appropriate or you were mentioning you like winter sports so a skiing trip to the Alps is in order. You may be pleasantly surprised at how well they know you and how well matched their suggestions are too.

Alternatively, if you’re feeling particularly brave, how about letting an agency plan a complete surprise trip for you? Companies such as Magical Mystery Tours offer exciting travel packages with your destination only being revealed to you upon arrival at the airport. After you complete a travel survey with a few details and desires, they will secretly plan everything, including accommodation and some of your activities. The only thing they give you prior to your flight is the weather forecast at your getaway destination – eeek!

 

6. Visit somewhere under threat of climate change

I recently wrote an article here on Travelettes about eight places most immediately under threat due to climate change. The destinations range from tropical islands at risk of disappearing due to rising sea levels, melting glaciers, to places with struggling flora and fauna. It’s a bit of a depressing way to approach travel but if global warming continues at the rate it is then many of these places could well be damaged for good. It’s now, or potentially never.

Just make sure you counteract your carbon emissions and minimise your impact to ensure you’re not being part of the problem. Paying to offset your carbon footprint when you purchase tickets, choosing a more environmentally friendly mode of transport or taking practical steps like eating vegan abroad, are some good ways to start.

 

7. Seek Instagram inspiration

Looking at places on dedicated travel pages such as Beautiful Destinations or searching hashtags can be the ultimate inspiration to help you decide what country appeals. Just bear in mind a lot of these photos can be Photoshopped or heavily edited!

If you’re trying to decide between a few options, I’ve previously put two destinations up on an Instagram poll asking my followers to vote for one. The result saw me heading to Switzerland over Slovakia in January 2018!

8. Do a lucky dip

Write down all the places you are interested in visiting on separate pieces of paper. Fold them all the same, put them in a bowl, close your eyes and pick one out at random! It’s an old fashioned but exciting way to let fate decide your next destination.

I’ve done this once and ended up booking a life changing three week trip to Sri Lanka!

 

9. Purchase a random ticket at the airport

Personal finances have never allowed me to do this but booking a flight on the day of departure to a random destination is for me ultimate goals! I love the idea of not knowing until you are actually at the airport and the thrill of catching your flight only a few hours later.

I guess it is probably wise to have a particular climate in mind first though so you pack appropriately!

 

10. Choose a place with the same initial as your first name

This is an interesting one if you like a bit of a challenge, have flexibility with time and budget and most importantly, an open mind. Brainstorm and research all the places or countries beginning with the same letter as your first name and set yourself the task of choosing just one, exclusively from the list.

If you’re an Ellie you could find yourself visiting the Baltic state of Estonia or William could find himself trekking in the woods of Washington!

Brainstorming all my ‘T’ destinations

11. Visit a forum and ask

Asking the advice of seasoned travellers on forums such as Lonely Planet can be useful to determine not only what destinations are currently trending but also what is most suited to your situation.

If you create a public post listing your travel preferences, ‘must haves’, trip duration, budget and any other details that might be useful, you can often get a whole heap of the forum community assisting and inspiring you.

 

12. Look for discounts

Those annoying spam emails from airlines packed with flashing red stars and dramatic fonts may indeed hold the golden ticket to your next wallet-friendly destination. Have a browse through your emails at all the latest discounts and check out offers on websites like Travel Zoo and Kayak.

 

Do you have any other ways you go about choosing your next destination? Let me know in the comments below!