I haven't travelled much and now I'm trying to figure out what would be a nice place for holidays. I like systematic approaches and maybe you have some suggestions what I should look out for and where to find information. I try to explain.

I'd like to decide on some parameters and then filter all available options from that. For example I could decide:

  • how far should it be; price for the flight
  • how expensive should be living there
  • what the temperature there during that time
  • how politically safe
  • which region of that country; nature or tourism
  • maybe some short info about the area would be nice
  • how much entertainment activities do I need
  • how to decide on a hotel if they all look alike
  • ...

So figuring out the price is easy. I've also found a site with warnings for tourists. However, what's the best way to find out about prices in that country (google McDonalds burger? :) )? Is there a good site to find seasonal temperatures for all regions? And how do I find some information about all regions without reading essays about each one? I'd like to know key facts like if there is much tourism or not etc. I really would like to compare many places so summaries and overviews would be helpful.

What else should I look out for? And good rule of thumbs for searching for a hotel? Often they all seem alike. Any particularly good site that has some "systematic" short information for the destinations? If you ask in a forum, then you get hundreds of "Oh, I like XYZ best", so I still don't know how to decide.

I'm from Germany. I prefer (near to) all-inclusive offers and I don't need sightseeing.

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    You've asked a bunch of questions here, which makes it difficult to answer. Can you narrow it down a bit, perhaps by asking multiple questions? – Flimzy May 2 '12 at 20:02
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    There are many "systematic" approaches to travel, and which one is right for you depends on your travel goals and needs. You say you don't want sight seeing--so what is your purpose for traveling? It sounds like my answer to this question probably wouldn't apply to you--since I do like sight seeing. – Flimzy May 2 '12 at 20:03
  • @Flimzy: I'm not expecting anyone to tell me exactly what I will want. Mere suggestions for some systematic research will do :) My purpose of traveling is rather spending holidays somewhere else and relax. Also to see something I haven't seen before. – Gerenuk May 2 '12 at 20:56
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    That's why I'm not asking for holiday proposals but rather for approach suggestions. – Gerenuk May 2 '12 at 21:04
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    Have you considered a travel agent? They are extremely good at finding places for you to go based on the sort of holiday you want. – DJClayworth May 3 '12 at 14:32

Since you're in Europe, I'll suggest a technique that used to apply to me when I lived in London:

Go to http://www.skyscanner.net/

Enter in LON in the From box.

Enter in the dates I want to travel.

DON'T enter a destination.

Hit go.

It would then present me with cheap flight deals to various countries. I'd then pick the cheapest one I'd not been to, say, Norway.

It then shows the cheapest flights to Norway. And I'd do some reading on the cities that it suggests. I could usually back myself to find cheap accommodation and stuff to do.

It added a feel of excitement not knowing entirely where I'd be going on my next trip, but still allowed me to control at least the region of a country and the other stuff that I'd do there.

To decide on what to do, I'd head to Wikitravel and read the high level info about the country or the city, as well as the climate, activities and sights - you may decide you just care about the climate, safety and costs that it mentions instead.

Then I'd book my flights and accommodation.

Finally, I'd look forward to my new holiday :D

  • That's the type of approach I'm looking for. Thanks :) For my purposes I just need to reduce the reading time (non-sightseeing experience is probably harder to find and judge than city related stuff). But I suppose reading more doesn't hurt as you get to know about the world :) – Gerenuk May 3 '12 at 9:34

One reason why there are so many travel-related websites out there is that what makes a good getaway/holiday/journey heavily depends on the individual's preferences. That means that what is important to you in finding your optimal destination, might not be important to others. And that means you'll be lucky to find a place where you can use exactly your criteria in finding your preferred destination.

You won't have to plow through whole libraries to get some understanding of the cost of living in different regions of the world, though. And if the cost of getting there is easy to determine, as you say, narrowing down your available choices shouldn't be too hard, while a very good start for reading up on your potential destinations are the summaries of articles on your destinations on Wikipedia and Wikitravel.

So, a systematic approach could be:

  • Roughly determine how much you're willing to spend on getting there.
  • Find destinations that are reasonably priced.
  • Read up on the attractions of these destinations at Wikitravel and Wikipedia. This will also give you an idea of the cost of living and political stability.
  • Narrow down your choices and purchase a few Lonely Planets of the few destinations that are left.
  • Read up on your final few choices.
  • Make a decision.
  • Thanks. Indeed the core of the problem is that I cannot tell who recommendation is from people who like the same. So I thought about systematic searches to even out individual preferences. Unfortunately I believe for my type of approach read a lonely planet is probably too much time to screen all possibilities. But I will see what I can do... :) – Gerenuk May 2 '12 at 21:03

If you haven't been anywhere yet, then anywhere other than where you are now will be interesting. Lets try systematically.

There are about 180ish countries and half of them your going to score off as unsafe. So lets list them alphabetically and then cross of the ones that are unsafe. Now where there is more than one country per letter, cross out the furthest away. If there are still more than one country for some letters, remove the most expensive from that letter. By now you should have a list of 25 or 26 countries (there's not country starting with X). Start with the capital city of the A country and then B, C, D or randomize them.

Put a map on the wall, blindfold yourself and through a dart at it. If it lands in the sea or in a warzone, try again. Then go where the dart was. Try to get a close the exact point of the dart to ensure you go to somewhere off the tourist track.

  • half are unsafe? I query that. Warzones, sure, but even parts of Afghanistan (the Wakhan corridor) are just fine to visit. Areas of New York or Johannesburg would be more dangerous. – Mark Mayo May 4 '12 at 10:21
  • On the other hand, I do like the darts approach, never tried that and actually done it. I use solar eclipses for that - let them dictate where I go. – Mark Mayo May 4 '12 at 10:22
  • @Mark Mayo read what I wrote. I didn't say anything about war-zones. I said half are unsafe. Unsafe includes drugs, prostitution, crime, terrorists, poor sanitation, disease, famine/drought, natural disasters, wide animals, geographical obstacles, political instability and so on. Yes the best bits of Afghanistan may be better than the worst bits of New York but I really wouldn't recommend either of them given the concept of systematically finding the best places to visit. But NYC's bad parts, and Afghanistan are first on the cutting room floor as there are obviously better alternatives. – Rincewind42 May 5 '12 at 14:17
  • I read what you wrote. I gave warzone as a single example of unsafe, I also mentioned Johannesburg which is often cited as the most crime-ridden city in the world. However, thousand of tourists fly into there every month in order to go to Kruger National Park - the biggest game reserve in the world. It's still 'safe', you just avoid the slums and squatter camps and don't go wandering around at night. And as a tourist, South Africa is one of the most enjoyable and beautiful places to visit and it'd be a shame to see it on the 'cutting room floor' merely because of a crime statistic. – Mark Mayo May 5 '12 at 21:08
  • So what about Johannesburg, but hey that's not a country so it's irrelevant to the process described. South Africa might get cut for other reasons but many great places are going of the cutting room floor for trivial reasons because you only get to choose 1 at a time. Under "S" you also have Sweeden, Switzerland, Singapore, South Korea, etc. The game only allows you to choose on "S" so which is it going to be? Well well drop Sierra Leone, South Sudan and Syria straight off because they are not safe. – Rincewind42 May 7 '12 at 4:35

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