We’ve been back in Canada visiting family since late October. We’ve been home a lot longer than we thought, but we have been busy!
We’ve found opportunities to house sit, tie up loose ends, and experience our hometown Calgary, more like tourists. Being back in familiar territory we’ve had the time to build some consistent income, do a lot of reading and researching on our favorite blogs and websites, and loosely plan travel for the rest of 2016.
How do we choose where we’ll go?
So what does travel planning for digital nomads consist of? We have a bit of a haphazard method to picking travel destinations. We don’t commit to going anywhere very far in advance and we’re very flexible and a bit spontaneous. Sometimes, a cheap fight will be the deciding factor for where and when we’ll visit somewhere. Other times is will be a place we’ve read about and researched for months before committing to visiting.
The “must haves” that influence our choices are a low cost of living, house sitting opportunities, ease (and affordability) to travel to and from, and weather. The people must be friendly and welcoming to tourists and the culture needs to be family focused and interesting as well. Factoring all of those things in still leaves a lot of choices! So we use other inspirations to narrow down our list of potential candidates. I think our methods for finding travel destinations could become more systematic over time. Until then, this is how we choose travel destinations.
We choose destinations based on friends recommendations.
1. Budapest, Hungary
When we were in Bucharest, Romania we met up with another traveling family, Talon and Tigger Windwalker from 1Dad1Kid.com. We spent a lot of time together and came to realize we shared a lot of the same preferences for travel destinations. When our Visa was up in Romania theirs was as well. We parted ways, we moved on to a house sit in Turkey, and Talon and Tigger went on to fall in love with Budapest in Hungary. After hearing their opinions, we knew we had to get there to experience the city for ourselves. Budapest also has a very low cost of living compared to where we’re from in Canada, consumer prices including rent are 44% lower than in Calgary. It’s also in close proximity to other places we are interested in visiting which makes it a perfect city to travel to and from.
Budapest is a priority for us, and about as “set in stone” as you can get for our travel planning.
We choose destinations we know we already love.
We spent three months in Bucharest last year and loved so much about the city. There are so many reasons we want to go back to Bucharest. It is so affordable, there are so many beautiful parks, and Bucharest has so many excellent places to eat! We visited in late winter, early spring so we only experienced a little of the fun the sprawling urban parks in Bucharest had to offer. This year will aim to visit during late summer, early fall to get a different perspective. Bucharest is definitely worth getting to know well for us. The cost of living is low and internet speeds are fast, some of the fastest in all of Europe!
We will travel to Bucharest in 2016 for sure. It’s the perfect place for us to hang out, enjoy great food cheap, and get lots of work done.
We choose destinations based on expert opinions.
3. Seville, Spain
A house sitting opportunity lured us to Spain last summer and we did our best to see and experience and much as we could while we were there. We spent one week in Madrid before our assignment began just outside the town of Vera in the Almeria province. During that week, we enjoyed an awesome food tour and were lucky to spend two hours picking the brain of our very knowledgeable tour guide, Luke. He is a resident expert on Spain and we made the most of that, peppering him with questions about Madrid and his favorite places to visit in Spain. Something Luke said about Seville, that it lived up to its stunning reputation, that it is every bit as beautiful and authentic as travel brochures profess, got us fixated on Seville.
We didn’t make it to Seville that trip but we definitely will this year. Not that we need much of an excuse to revisit Spain, it is our favorite country to visit so far! The cost of living is extremely low, there are tons of housesitting opportunities, and the culture and weather are amazing.
We choose destinations to fulfill long time dreams.
4. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague has been in the number one spot on Robs dream destination list for years. We were delighted to learn from friends that it is gorgeous as the photos we’ve drooled over and it’s also insanely cheap to visit! Learning it is super cheap to visit was a bit of a surprise to us, an extremely pleasant surprise. It continues to grow in popularity so we plan to visit in the shoulder or off-season to avoid the crowds of tourists.
We have a feeling the great prices won’t last so we plan to check Prague of Rob’s bucket list this year.
We choose destinations for the love of adrenaline pumping adventure.
Iceland, a mystical underpopulated land marooned near the top of the world. Visiting Iceland is a dream for us, and a bit of a stretch for us to travel to in 2016. It is not cheap or loaded with house sitting opportunities but its stunning volcanic landscapes, warm friendly people and quirky culture leave us longing to visit Iceland. There are so many cool things Makai wants to do there. No surprise to us, he is the one in our family that loves Winter! Mak is fascinated by volcanoes, curious about the Northern Lights, and totally enamored with snow and ice. Iceland is at the top of his travel wish list and a serious consideration for both Rob and I as well.
We will do everything we can to make a trip to Iceland possible in 2016!
We choose destinations where we have unfinished business to attend to.
6. Buenos Aries, Argentina
We visited Argentina back in 2010. Makai was was only 18 months old and Rob and I were searching for a way to change how we lived to spend more time with our son in his growing years. Buenos Aries is kind of European. It has a unique sophistication culturally and architecturally. It has all of the best that South America has to offer as well, like a warm welcoming people, a low cost of living, and mild beautiful weather. We fell in love with Argentina in 2010 and I have to say visiting places like Buenos Aries, helped inspire our travel lifestyle.
We are looking to develop a travel rhythm that fits both our budget and our other preferences. Buenos Aires will definitely be a part of that rhythm.
We choose destinations that I’ve written about that piqued our interest.
7. Berlin, Germany
I wrote an article about Berlin last year that inspired our unwavering desire to visit the iconic city. Now it seems every article we read about it appeals to some or all of our priorities. There is so much to see and do in Berlin and it’s an affordable place to visit as well!
The rich culture, tumultuous history, famous architecture, and plentiful urban parks are just a few of the reasons why we need to visit Berlin this year.
We choose great destinations to “stay on the way” to somewhere else.
8. New York, New York, U.S.A.
We have wanted to visit New York for a long time but have avoided doing so because of cost. We have spent time in Fort Lauderdale and Miami on our way to our way to other destinations. We found ways to make those stays affordable. New York is a great city to catch cheap flights to Europe. Travel costs are cheaper for some things at different times of year in New York so we’ll need to pick our priorities and then pick the cheapest time frame to visit.
Eating lots of great food is definitely our top priority. Restaurant Week looks like the best time to find excellent gourmet deals in NYC. Participating restaurants about 300 or so, offer 3-course lunch and dinner specials at a fixed price. There are great deals at New Yorks best restaurants two times a year. Restaurant Week happens in the Winter (sometime in January or February) and in the Summer (Sometime between July and August). We will stay in New York on the way somewhere else this year. We just have to time it right to make it affordable.
We may not get to all of these places this year but this is the starting point for our travel plans. The only things that are guaranteed about this list are plans will develop and change as flight deals and house sitting opportunities present themselves.
How do you pick where you’ll vacation? Do you use any resources for travel inspiration? Please share your ideas in the comments below.