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I'm hopeful that I'm being specific enough to avoid being too broad/subjective. I would appreciate any pointers or edits where required to make this question work here.

I am a non-road-warrior/seasoned-traveller from the North East of England. I'm very inexperienced with regards to travel and I know very little about locations outside of the UK. My holidays have been almost exclusively in Scotland or the lake district. I've never been on a plane and the furthest I've ever travelled is Paris (didn't care for it - Disneyland was ok) and I'm pretty nervous about travelling in general.

My partner is somewhat different. She loves to travel and has been to china and on a few Mediterranean holidays etc. She's pretty adventurous and not a big worrier like me. She'd like me to pick a destination to travel to for my 30th.

We'll have a budget of <£1800 for travel and accommodation and I can't get more than 9 consecutive days away from work. I'd like to travel to a location that is reasonably safe (low crime rate) and friendly (accepting of foreigners), and English speaking would be a bonus. I'd rather it take less than one day to actually get there (and the same back - so probably Europe?). Neither I or my partner are particularly interested in a 'nightlife' or just lying on a beach for a week, and I'm not much use when it comes to activities like white water rafting etc. Easy going hiking, seeing a bit of nature and some nice, unusual landscapes, preferably with mild-cold weather would suit us both I think (/hope). We plan to travel in October. I don't think I'm allowed to say 'Scotland' (again).

I'd like an answer to cover what I need to know or should consider when choosing a location; What sort of costs (particularly hidden costs) I should be aware of; and I'd very much appreciate any suggestions of countries or regions that I should investigate based on my criteria.

Update: I should have mentioned that I had considered a cruise but my partner dismissed this based on the unpleasant thought of being cooped up on a ship with lots of people (we're not very social) and having only a tiny cabin to retreat to. A shame though because I like boats and I'm not keen on the thought of flying... (airports creep me out)

closed as primarily opinion-based by Giorgio, user 56513, CMaster, davidb, Ali Awan Jun 7 '17 at 15:12

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Have you considered a cruise? A 7 Day sailing takes you to multiple ports and you can be as active or inactive as you want. It's a great first step since you don't have to plan any of the logistics other than getting to the embarkation port. – Johns-305 Jun 7 '17 at 12:52
  • @Johns-305 +1 Excellent suggestion! Yes I had! I should update my answer... – Brent Hackers Jun 7 '17 at 12:53
  • I'm voting to close, but I'm also going to suggest considering Slovenia (especially around Triglav national park. Lots of fairly approachable outdoor activities, but October in the mountains should not be too hot. And English will get you by just fine. Scandinavia could also be a good option, and if you don't mind long train or road journeys, you can even avoid the plane. – CMaster Jun 7 '17 at 13:36
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    I voted to reopen as this question is not too broad in my view. The question is not for a place, but for a way to decide how to select one place. (If the question had been for one place, I might have suggested the west coast of Ireland.) – Willeke Jun 7 '17 at 15:15
  • Brent, don't get offended but to be someone who is going for the 30, you sounds a lot like my father who is nearly 70. Anyway...your bigger problem is IMHO how to move once at destination, 'cause the rest of Europe is driving on the opposite side of the road; meanwhile, 9 days around without renting a car but wanting to hike and see panoramas...it's gonna be complicated. So, if you think you can drive: Peloponnese in October will be perfect. Lot to see, lot to walk, amazing (and unusual) panoramas, everybody speak English, not much expensive, nice climate... If you need more, write me in chat – motoDrizzt Jun 7 '17 at 17:45
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Here's how I plan my trips, as a seasoned traveller. First, I have a list in my head of places I might be interested in. Venice, for example. Or, if you were traveling in June, seeing the midnight sun north of the Arctic Circle. Or Australia. Mexico. Fairly vague, large categories. In your case, "northern Europe" seems like a plan and I might get out a map and choose a handful of cities.

Second, the criteria I'm going to use for this trip, which are not the same every trip. You have some listed there already: don't need two days to get there, has some hiking and nature, not super hot, easy to find someone who speaks English in a hotel or restaurant, not super expensive.

Third, cross some things off your vague list for not meeting these criteria. If you feel really bad crossing one of them off, feel free to change your criteria. This is your trip. Also consider adding research. For example, if the only Caribbean destination you've heard of is super expensive, take half an hour and see if others are cheaper. Find out if there are interesting nature hikes near Venice or whatever.

Fourth, do some serious research into the places you have narrowed it down to. I typically build a huge document that has hotels, restaurants, pictures of scenery, trail maps for hikes, links to websites of museums, maps, and so on. I paste in bits and pieces from review sites, trip reports, and hotel web sites. This will probably be internet searches, but you can also go read guide books for an area in your local library, and ask specific questions here, such as "Is XYZ open in October?" (When we went to Bermuda in November, many beach restaurants and stalls were closed even though it was hot and sunny.)

Fifth, run the budget for whatever destination appeals to you the most after doing all that research. Plane tickets, hotel, admission to parks or museums or whatnot, guesses of restaurant meals, and don't forget "transfers" - the cost to get from the airport to the hotel, the hotel to the hiking trail, and so on. Renting a car will cost more, but give you more freedom. In some places you can't really get around without a car, and in others there are trains, trams, buses and whatnot to everything. Also remember you're going to want to buy souvenirs: postcards, a hat, a Tshirt, a Christmas ornament, a knick-knack of some kind.

Sixth, make a decision. Some things you will have ruled out for cost, others for not having enough that interests you (even though other people may love them), and still others because you would want to spend 3 weeks there so you'll go some other year. If you can't choose, get back into the research. The second-worst case is that you'll have two places you would really enjoy and can afford - you can go to one this year and one next year! The worst case is that everything you thought of is over budget. You'll need to think of cheaper destinations or find a way to chop the budget down. Knowing what the biggest contributor to your costs are is key for that. One most trips it's the hotel, but not always. Then loop back to the "research" phase to find alternatives and redo the budget, then find yourself once again at "decide."

I really enjoy going to a restaurant I chose in advance by my internet research, and I also really enjoy just stopping into a place that looks interesting, or that was recommended by someone I talked to in the destination. So plan, but don't overplan. Leave some holes for serendipity.

  • Genuinely very helpful. +1 – Brent Hackers Jun 7 '17 at 16:35
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I'll make two suggestions:

  • A cruise. A 7 Day sailing takes you to multiple ports and you can be as active or inactive as you want. It's a great first step since you don't have to plan any of the logistics other than getting to the embarkation port
  • Walt Disney World. Other than the flight, long you for, not for the GF, it's an easy destination with lots to do. While we do speak 'Murican over here, it's close enough to English where you won't have any problems ;). October is a great time to visit Orlando to boot.
  • +1 but I don't expect that I could do Disney world on our budget this time. Also, according to the google, the average temperature IN OCTOBER is 29 degrees... Way outside of my comfort zone. – Brent Hackers Jun 7 '17 at 13:08
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    these are suggestions of things to do / places to go but don't answer "how do I find/choose" at all. – Kate Gregory Jun 7 '17 at 14:44

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