Coffee, chocolate, travel discussions and how to choose your next travel destination…

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I often get the question of how do i choose a travel destination. What has made me select Peru instead of Argentina, Canada instead of Chile, Australia instead of New Zealand?

Of course in most instances the answer is as simple as … “that is the place I wanted to visit at that period of time” and I am sure most of you are thinking the same way. Still, if we search a bit more underneath this simplistic answer (or if you prefer if we read between the words – because there are no lines to read between), the answer is not as simple as it sounds.

Over the years, and especially over the last 10- 20 years, the internet has brought any place of the world and any type of information about such a place under our fingertips and in-front of our eyes in a fraction of a second.

One has just to type a name of a location on earth and in milliseconds he (“one” to be politically correct) will be over-flooded with Terabytes of information about the place one intends to visit – utterly useful or not at all – related to the location as much as Jupiter is related to the concept of agriculture – from numerous direct or indirect sources. Additionally, the internet has brought about another great transition. It has helped to lower the age of knowledgeable people – a 16-year old boy or girl today knows much more about our world than what his/her parents knew when they were 16. What is more, this globalisation, this virtually shrinking world has become a physically shrinking world and has given the opportunity and ability to many lucky kids (and grown ups) to travel the globe.

Of course there are also other more traditional sources of information such as the TV, radio, newspapers etc.

The fact of the matter is that every second of our lives we are sucking up and stacking up in our brain neurons incredibly immense amount of information.

Through the processing of that information that we perform over time and based on our type of character and preferences, we develop likes and dislikes about places on earth. All places potentially sound exotic, but there are people who would never visit Asia because of the food, Northern Europe because of the climate, Australia because of the distance to get there etc. Thus, these likes and dislikes inevitably give rise to an informal list of places one would like to visit. Naturally, not everybody has Hawaii in the first place of his list.

Or have they?

Still, taking aside the quantity of information one has and one’s likes and dislikes, it is always the triggers that make one select a certain destination (and rocket a certain destination up in his list).

Triggers are usually random – their occurrence is stochastic, serendipitous. You bump into a friend who tells you about a great destination that you must visit. You read a magazine and see an advertisement about Jamaica and realise it is high time after so many years you visited the birth place of Bob Marley. You see a 50%-off special deal for a cruise vacation package in the Norwegian fjords. Triggers could also be more deterministic. I am pretty sure in the coming years sophisticated software programs may by designed (or even the Internet with Web 3.0 technologies may have progressed) so that smart computer programmes or virtual autonomous agents will be able to select a certain destination using criteria as relevant as one’s character, likes or dislikes, age, gender, family type and as irrelevant as the drinks one prefers, one’s shoe size, stock market statistics on that day or if he had a promotion in the last three months – if you feel like splashing some cash, the agent will suggest New York for shopping.

Still, until such agents are as widespread as forks on tables, there may be some slightly less deterministic ways (one of which follows) to determine your next travel destination which, ways, may still retain some bits and pieces of spontaneity, serendipity and, of course, fun!

A small precondition of course is as follows. People should try, and this should be done offline, to stuck up as much information about places on this globe through their daily practices so that they build up a certain threshold (or you can call it critical mass) of information about travelling and locations on earth in order to get them going – even about places they never thought they would like to go.

So!

Select a date you have nothing to do, preferably a Saturday.

Go to the closest bookstore and go to the travel section. Look for a world map, but neither the size of your palm nor the size of your bedroom. Preferably it should be an A2-size map as you would be intending to spread it in a part of your room’s floor. If you are intending to use a table, an A3-size world map could do but this may not be so much fun. (If you think buying/obtaining such a map is difficult or expensive, one cheap and easy way to do this is to tear the last pages of airlines magazines. This is not very stylish or sophisticated way, but they are damn good quality world maps!)

Then, go back home, invite a couple of friends, preferably close ones, ideally those you intend to travel with, get the kettle going for a good cup of coffee, bring up the chocolate and deadly brownies (or any type of other finger food and beers you wish to consume depending on your diet), spread the map on the floor’s carpet, get your laptop next to you, bring next to you all the travel literature you have and of your friends (good one – not any type of worthless magazine or newspaper articles telling you how romantic Paris is – even rats know that) and you are ready to start your virtual quest.

Take a step back and look and appreciate your map. I don’t know how many times you have looked at it, as a whole, but each time I look at a world map, I get a sublime feeling and an urge to travel everywhere.

It is just a small and plain colourful piece of paper yet it carries and it hides and lets the trained eye see and heart feel different feelings or emotions unfold. You just move your glance an inch to the right or to the left and your eyes fall on a country so different from the one next to it that in order to fully appreciate even a fraction of its history, people, way of life you require weeks of studies. You are gobsmacked by the diversity – not that you did not know!

Well, if you find it difficult with your friends to still initiate the process then I have a very structured, well defined and successful mathematical process which is called … coin tossing. Take a coin and let it fall randomly on any place on the map. Then let your internet detailed maps travel you there.

Start searching for info for that place. Talk with your friends about it. See what they think of that place. Ask them if they would like to travel there. See what intrigues them. Be provocative. Travel virtually. Make a small story, a short itinerary, and see if this suits your appetite. Ask advice. Look at photos online. Gather and exchange different opinions and views while engaging your friends in this discussion. You never know in the next corner of your discussion what a new perspective may be waiting for you! Jump from one country to another. One sentence will bring another and you will start discovering the realms of the travel discussions. Be intuitive! Be creative, even though “creativity” may not be strictly related with travel. Let your imagination go wild and let your senses guide you. Unleash your true child in you and you will be rewarded whole heartedly!

By the end of the discussion you (and your friends at the same time) will have taken out the true you and possibly a need to visit a new location will have sprung up. If not, you can re-do the whole process a second time – a third possibly.

If not then I bet the reason for inviting friends was solely a good excuse for the … chocolate, brownies, coffee, finger food, beers or chit chat!

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