Where to Go?

For my first post, I thought it best to start at the beginning. It's hard to travel if you don't know where you are going. Great insights like this are why I'm called the Analytical Traveler. Trip selection may be dictated by business or events such as a wedding, but even then you should consider your options. I will discuss adding on to trips such as the above in my next post, but this post will focus on starting from zero in determining a vacation destination.

During dinner recently, I did an informal survey with my family that proved to be quite eye opening. I asked them to rate different trip ideas on a 1 -5 scale (1=not interested; 5=very interested). My first question was, "Rate going on an African safari and seeing lots of animals and tribes." To me, this was the easy no-brainier to start with...an obvious 5. To my little one it was also a no-brainer, but it was definitely a 1, as lions, hippos, and rhinos are scary. Quite crushing for me. 

Pro Tip: Start with a couple bad ones like visiting slaughter houses and thimble museums then throw in what you really want. 

We continued with our survey, covering relaxing/snorkeling at the beach, wildlife in a rainforest, third world cultural exploration, national parks, cafes/museums in Europe, among others. As much as we've traveled together, I was quite surprised at many of the ratings, and realized the value of an exercise like this in vacation planning. If you're luckier than me, you may all pick a 4 or 5 for a particular destination and be good to go. If not, here is my draft approach to the process. Hoping for your feedback to refine.

  1. Create a survey with questions similar to the above using Google Forms, SurveyMonkey, or equivalent...or just print out a questionnaire. 
  2. Have each member of travel party complete survey independently.
  3. If obvious winner (all scores above 4) move on to specifics.
  4. Otherwise, throw out all destinations where there is a score of 1 (possibly 2's as well).
  5. Add scores and rank destination options highest to lowest.
  6. Share results with travel companions and let people make a pitch for their destination of choice before throwing out. Modify scores as necessary.
  7. Seek consensus by seeing if a disagreeing party's score will raise through incorporating other criteria important to them such as checking off a bucket list item or a country where they haven't been.
  8. If at an impasse, vet further using criteria such as cost, weather, or time available. Consider moving some / all of this criteria up front if relevant.
  9. Make your destination selection (and backup plan), ensure no hard feelings, go to the Resources page and start planning!

Consider the above a template that can be modified given your situation. The conversation level informal survey may be enough in many situations. Listen to everyone and not let the extroverts dominate. What are the concerns or areas of contention? The more people involved, especially if some are inflexible, the more challenging this can be. This can also be an analytical way to reveal that travel with certain people is not advisable and leveraged to highlight this to them without damaging a relationship. 

Please let me know what you think, if you've used other techniques that worked (or didn't), and any other steps we should add to the process. If you try the process, share how it worked and any problems that occurred. Ultimately, with your help, I'd like to build a flexible tool that can be used by my fellow analytical travelers. 

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Safe travels!