Oops, I missed a week. Still, I’m doing pretty good over here in blog land.
This week I’m going to tackle a fun travel question that I’ve been asked which is, “how do you pick where you’re going to travel?” The question came up especially after I announced I was going to Amsterdam in part because I think most people don’t consider it a major tourist destination and going there seemed to be completely random.
(A side note here to say Amsterdam is absolutely a great travel destination in and of itself. I loved it and could have spent lots more time there. In addition, it would make an ideal base to explore lots of other attractions in the area due to its excellent transportation connections.)
There are two parts to answering the travel destination question. The first part is kind of boring and just plain common sense, mainly safety. As a woman traveling alone or with one or two friends (as opposed to a tour group), I’m especially aware of this. You cannot, of course, guarantee complete safety anywhere (including your own back yard!) but I’m going to pass on countries torn by civil war or other major dangers. Of course, my level of comfort may vary widely from yours and I have no doubt that some of the places I have passed on are actually fine for travel.
The second part of answering this question is entirely personal, especially when, like me, you travel independently. Tour groups have their place and can be a great alternative for many places, but they can limit you, especially if your interests don’t align with the tour schedule. So the answer, obviously, is to follow your interests, whether that’s riding famous roller coasters or visiting lighthouses or birdwatching, your personal passions can not only direct your travels, but fill them with meaningful memories.
My travel choices boil down to three favorite topics: gardens, photography and museums. I used to say, to myself and anyone who would listen, that someday I was going to take a garden tour of England. Then one day I made a ‘bucket list’ of great gardens that I had seen and that I would someday like to see and something (finally) clicked – what are you waiting for? Start now! And that’s what inspired me to book a flight to Amsterdam. And yes, England is going to be featured heavily in future trips. Of course, gardens have been a major attraction for me anywhere I’ve gone, I’m just going to be a little more focused on gardens as the main destination.
One thing I’ve learned about myself with my recent travels is that I love museums (and I include historic sites and monuments in this category). Not just the beautiful artwork and historical artifacts (although I love those too), but also the buildings themselves. Old or new they’re often breathtaking in their own right. I also love the atmosphere of most museums, not hushed so much as respectful, where people come to learn or be inspired. There is camaraderie and joy in a museum.
And finally, photography bridges all my interests nicely. Gardens are, of course, very photogenic as are most museums (many museums allow non-flash photography but I always ask) and as a bonus, many of the great museums are in beautiful cities which are, in turn, very photogenic (Paris, London, Amsterdam, Chicago, etc). For me, photography is a lot about keeping your eyes open to new sights and interesting details which makes it an ideal travel companion.
So those are my guides when planning my next trips(s). What about you, do you follow your passions when you travel? And where will they take you?