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Choosing Next Travel Destination Strategy

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One of the prime cerebral occupations of the traveler is looking into a world map, evaluating where they have been and where they are going — dreaming into the travels of old, gazing at the travels of the future. There are transitioning points in world travel where the path ahead splinters and frays like the end of an old shoelace: one path through a region all of a sudden becomes many.

There is perhaps no higher freedom than looking at a map and knowing that you can place yourself down upon almost any part of it.

Travel works in phases. At first the entire world is open — you can go anywhere — but then you select a region, then a country, and your focus refines itself and your options become fewer. Soon enough, a path across a certain part of the world presents itself, and you travel it through. But at the end of this regional path, the entire globe makes itself available to you once again, and a plethora of choices — paths — reappear: you are at an intersection of the globe, ready to choose your direction, the next region to travel through.

Travelers do not travel from country to country — to do so would require a bank account befitting a successful Wall Street broker — but from region to region. A single part of the world is generally selected for a projected six month to two year stretch of travel, which is entered at one end and then traveled through to the other. At the end of this path, the world opens up again:

Where to travel next?

I am asking myself this question as I look over a map of the world. The regions marked out in red are the ones I have already visited. I want a new horizon for this next move — I want to go to a region that I have not yet visited before.

As I look at the map of my travels, it becomes apparent that there are seven large regions that I have not yet set foot in.

1. Northeast South America: Brazil, the Guineas, Venezuela, Paraguay, Bolivia.

Pros of traveling in this region

  • Some extreme landscapes: mountains and jungles.
  • I have not yet visited this half of South America — I feel as if I only have a half way impression of this continent.
  • May potentially do a guidebook for the Amazon region.
  • Familiar culture, language in some countries. My family speaks Spanish, and have spent numerous years in Hispanic countries. Parts of this region are Spanish speaking and would be good for Petra’s continued proficiency in this language.
  • Brazil is fresh territory. Brazil is its own cultural entity in South America, and is calling my name.
  • Relatively not expensive to get in and out of.
  • Work is available for English teachers.

Cons of traveling in this region

  • Same old, same old. I have traveled a lot in South and Central America as well as Mexico, and I am really wanting a new horizon: something different, something to get my blood pumping, new riddles to figure out.
  • Romance languages are my least favorite of all language families to communicate in. Give me Chinese, Japanese, a language with grunts, groans, clicks, or tones, and I will learn and speak it fine, but Romance languages are not my best.

2. West and East Africa

A massive white blotch spans over the Africa continent in the map of my travels. I have not yet been to Africa south of Morocco or Egypt; though my wife, Chaya, had traveled in the south of the continent.

The pros of traveling in West/ East Africa

  • I really want to go there
  • I have not experienced the cultures
  • Would make for good writing
  • Chaya’s uncle is an anthropologist who conducts research in Uganda
  • Cheap to rent apartments or rooms by the month
  • New landscapes — I am tired of looking at the same places all the time under the guise of a new place name, I crave a different view.

The cons of traveling in West/ East Africa

  • Expensive to get to. I am looking at over a $700 one way plane ticket to get to Africa.
  • Wife fears for the health of Petra. Chaya is under the much touted impression that the African continent boasts a higher frequency of communicable disease than other regions of the world, and is therefore apprehensive about bringing her child there. Though she had no problem bringing Petra to El Salvador, where the food preparation methods were amongst the most unsanitary in the world that I have yet observed (read Petra gets Amoebas).
  • Lack of work, low pay. It is looking as if Chaya is going to take an English teaching position soon to compliment the income we bring in from this website. In much of Africa these positions seem to be volunteer or very low paying.
  • Potentially complicated culture to make friends and/ or work in.
  • Hotels in some regions are not cheap.

3. The southern region of Africa

Same pros and cons of as stated above for West and East Africa, only add $500 more for airfare.

4. Australia/ Oceania/ Island Southeast Asia

The contrasts of this region are almost enough to get me on a plane right now. This is a massive region of large islands, thousands of small islands, and one big country/ continent. This region has Islamic, Christian, and Buddhist influence, and has been a crossing point for civilizations from all over the world for thousands of years. This region is a true soup of world cultures.

The pros of traveling in Oceania

  • Culturally diverse.
  • Potential for work teaching English in Indonesia or Malaysia, or doing grunt work in Australia or New Zealand.
  • Big countries. I find that the larger a country is the more I tend to like it.
  • Radical differences at border crossings. I like to cross borders and see a new land hit me right in the face.
  • Parts of this region seem cheap enough to travel in with my budget.
  • Extreme landscapes: ocean, beaches, mountains, jungles, deserts.

The cons of traveling in Oceania

  • Don’t want to go broke and run to Australia with only a hope and a graft.
  • Expensive to fly in and out of some countries.
  • Island areas, so flying intra-regionally is necessary.
  • Some countries are expensive.
  • Visa complications. Indonesia only gives 30 days upon entry.
  • Do I really want to be sitting around Australia when there is a whole world out there?

5. Middle East: Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Gulf States, Iran

Visa complications and the costs associated with traveling in this region do not present it as an option at this point.

6. Eastern Europe/ Central Asia

This region is really beckoning to me right now. The lure of a 365 day on arrival tourist visa to Georgia sounds pretty good. Entering this region from Bulgaria and then traveling a northern loop around the Black Sea and then going to Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan before crossing the Caspian sounds like a good stretch of travel.

Pros of traveling in far Eastern Europe and Central Asia

  • Good, clear line of travel presents itself.
  • Many different countries and cultures.
  • Covers a wide span of geography.
  • Diverse landscapes.
  • Possibility of work in almost all countries.
  • Easy visas outside of the Stans.
  • Cheap travel.
  • Not expensive to get in and out of the western portions of the region.
  • I have a general interest this span of the world.
  • I really want to travel through the Stans — maybe hitting MRP head on as he travels in the opposite direction.
  • China — one of my favorite countries in the world — is at the end of the road

Cons of traveling in this region

  • This is not a Spanish speaking region, so Petra’s knowledge of this language would probably wan. No other dominant language for her to learn other than English.
  • Winter. This region has a harsh winter season, so travels should be planned for the spring, summer, and early fall. Being stuck through a Caucasus winter does not sound like fun to me.

7. North of the Eastern Hemisphere

Too many cons here, not really an option as of now. Scandanavia, the north of Eastern Europe, and Russia are EXPENSIVE. Russian visas are a headache and expensive to get, and many other countries of the region are on the idiotic Schengen 90 days in, 90 days out regiment. Not a good choice for the VJT family right now.

So here it is, where we will travel next fully framed

There are seven large regions of the world I have not yet traveled in, and paths are leading to five of them at this juncture. Where would you like to see me travel throughout the remainder of 2011? Enter your vote below:

In point, a traveler can only go to one place at one time, and the choice of what region you choose to go to must be sought with care — as this will more than likely be the area you travel for the next 6 months to 2 years. You must make decisions in travel, and, at its root, travel is just one long exercise in decision making. The traveler physically moves himself like a piece across the chess board of the world, each move requires calculation.

Ultimately, choosing the next region I will travel in comes down to my intuition at the time when purchasing a plane ticket. Once a plane ticket is purchased, the deal is done: the next region I am going to travel in for the next six months to two years has been selected. Though, readers, you can drastically impact this decision, please place your vote in the form above and share your suggestions in the comments below.


Walk Slow,

Wade, Chaya, and Petra

Countries we have visited


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Filed under: Travel Philosophy, Travel Plan, Travel Preparation, Travel Strategy

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3720 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

15 comments… add one

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  • the candy trail ... | Michael Robert Powell March 28, 2011, 7:13 pm

    Wade, good analysis. Yeah, I reckon Eastern Europe to Central Asia is fascinating choice with many possible options – and it got my vote.

    Second: South America – but ultimately, anywhere, it’s all good.

    the candy trail … a nomad (map scouter) since 1988

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com March 29, 2011, 9:02 am

      Right on, anywhere is good. This is often the difficult part of choosing a region to travel in — how can you choose one when you know that you want to go to all of them hahaha. I suppose the question is, “Where do I want to go MOST right NOW.” I looked over this map and realized that the only place that I have not been that I do not really want to go to right now is German and Italy. The rest is calling me, though it seems as if the E.Europe to Central Asia route is going to win out.

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  • craig | travelvice.com March 28, 2011, 10:34 pm

    Don’t do Brazil — miserably, miserably expensive for what you get. The price of overland travel and accommodations around the level you (we) were avoiding in Europe back in ’08. Never seen buses cost as much as they do there.

    Also voting for Eastern Europe to Central Asia, so long as you’re not there during winter.

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com March 29, 2011, 8:48 am

      Yeah, there seems to be a big deviation from how Brazil looks at map level and how it is on the ground. Man, from looking at it on the map it seems to be a place of unending adventure, but the only thing I ever hear positive about it are the girls on the beach and the bars. Neither are really my thing. The Peruvian Amazon is amazing though, and would really like to move around that border region that separates the Andean countries from the heart of South America, which is, geographically, Brazil. Man, I feel that having not gone there I have this gapping hole in my travel repertoire haha.

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  • Dyanne @TravelnLass March 29, 2011, 1:15 am

    West/East Africa gets my vote for ya, Wade – mainly because of these 6 words:

    ‘I really want to go there”.

    And though I’ve only been to South Africa, Mozambique, Morocco, Egypt and Israel (a drop-in-the-bucket among 50+ different countries in Africa), g-knows that massive continent is teeming with all manner of cultures and wildlife. You could easily wander for 2 years there experiencing something new every blessed day.

    Besides, airfare is breathtaking these days to most anywhere on the globe. Not sure where your flying from, but try flying to Madrid or some such in Europe and then fly/ferry to Morocco and make your way overland from there.

    Once there, you can pick and choose the cheaper routes/stays, and health concerns? Shoot, those are everywhere and nowhere. No more concern than earthquakes and tsunamis…

    And the stories? Ah, verily no end to the adventures to be had!

    P.S. How come we can’t see the “results” of your little poll? ;(

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com March 29, 2011, 8:37 am

      Hello Dyanne,

      You’re right, “I want to go there,” is the best reason to go anywhere. But, then again, I want to go just about everywhere. Also, I think Petra may be able to enjoy Africa a little more when older. Though I guess we need to wait and see what region readers vote for — we will probably go to the winner.

      As for the results of the form, it is just a Google doc form, not any special polling platform, and the results are just a spreadsheet. I will post the results in around a week. Thanks.

      Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com March 31, 2011, 6:51 pm

      Hello Dyanne,

      Just fiddled around with the poll, and now the results will show after a vote is submitted.


      Link Reply
  • Caitlin March 29, 2011, 7:43 am

    Well, I’d say West Africa of course, but I think Hannah is somewhat right on that… there are a lot of ways to get sick there. If I were you I’d wait until Petra’s a couple years older, at least old enough to tell you how she’s feeling.

    Alejandro says you guys should come back to Mexico. Of the options above, I’d pick Oceania.

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com March 29, 2011, 8:30 am

      Cool. We would love to come back to Mexico. Man, Hannah is salivating at the bit for this haha. But we have to keep traveling on. Oceania would be the best option as far as work, cultural diversity, various landscapes, and, most importantly perhaps, weather. But The E. Europe to Central Asia route is still good — minus the winter weather. Perhaps we will get there quick and then bail out to Malaysia once cold weather sets in — do both haha. Thanks.

      Link Reply
      • Caitlin March 29, 2011, 7:23 pm

        Have to? Isn’t the whole point of being a traveler is not doing things just because you have to?

        Heh, but I guess I’m biased.

      • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com March 30, 2011, 10:49 am

        I guess want to is a better word haha. Though I do things I have to do all day long in order to enable me to do what I want to do. I mean, the sun is shinning, do I really want to work on this website today? But I do it anyway because it is going to get me where I want to be. Though, in the end, I believe blending have to and want to into something that is almost indistinguishable is the goal. I don’t want to change my kids dirty clothes, but, more than this, I want her to be clean. I suppose it is all about want — really, there is no have here — just the constant measuring of what you want more. For me, I want to make a living off of this website more than I want to go outside right now, so I suppose I mask this long term want with the term have to.

        Haha, getting a little philosophical on myself.

      • Caitlin March 30, 2011, 1:08 pm

        Ha ha ok. I interpreted what you said as “We really want to go to Mexico again, but we are obligated to keep moving to somewhere else.” My bad.


        You will love West Africa when you go, though.

  • Kalli April 5, 2011, 7:55 pm

    Hi, I enjoyed this post. My husband and I have been nomads for the past 2.5 years. We are in Africa right now. We’ve been to Morocco, Ghana, Rwanda, Uganda, and now Ethiopia and you’re right it’s a part of the world that you must see. What’s more there are kids, even Western kids wherever you go if you stay in the big cities making the health situation perhaps a bit less scary. The thing you have to keep in mind here is the internet and the bland food. The internet situation is really frustrating. We are digital nomads and and we wouldn’t want to stay in Africa for more than a few months at a time, ourselves. The connections are slow and intermittent, and it is often freakishly expensive. For example in Ethiopia the internet is controlled by the government so we bought an internet stick–I think it cost $150 for a month. I suppose internet cafes are a backup plan–I don’t know if you have a laptop– but honestly this is the hardest thing about living in Africa. In fact I couldn’t post this message at first and I’m trying again hours later. Secondly the food tends to be very carby and bland in sub Saharan Africa. Cuisine is one of my favorite things about travel but get used to chicken/fish, rice, and plantains. The exception is Ethiopia out of the countries that we have been to. So I vote Georgia 🙂 Then you can tell me if people speak much Russian there because the visa situation sounds intriguing and I would like to learn Russian but I don’t know how useful of a language it is there.

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com April 7, 2011, 4:07 pm

      Very practical advice. We, too, make our living online — this website — so good internet is very essential. As for food, I eat the same things no matter where I am in the world: eggs, chicken, vegetables, and the most popular local starch. In point, I care little about food — I seem to eat just for energy and nutrition’s sake haha. But it seems as if the Eastern Europe to Central Asia route would be good for us right now — except that it would pretty much erase the possibility of Petra speaking both Spanish and English as duel native languages.

      As far as learning Russian goes, be aware that trying to communicate in this language is a little taboo in many of the former Soviet states. Some people tend to be (almost ridiculously) sensitive about it. It has even been a major point of politics in Georgia to teach their population English rather than Russian and a HUGE program has just been started to enlist thousands of native English speakers to come to Georgia for one year terms to teach English in the schools. We actually tried to get in on this program but they would not take us (even with my wife’s rather astonishing teaching creds) because we have a child. The case of Georgia trying to make English the “official” second language seems to be the rule in this part of the world — some of the former Soviet countries are, socially and politically, trying to move as far as they can away from Russia.

      Though it seems to be an interesting time there, and it would be fun to experience it first hand. Perhaps we will meet up.

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  • Don April 5, 2011, 11:06 pm

    I vote for Eastern Europe / Central Asia. Why, you are asking? Read all of your Pros, and also I haven’t read all that many blogs from travel in that part of the world.

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