This post is by Kay Boatner, one of our contributors.
Where in the World?
For a variety of reasons including work, family, depressing bank account statements and lack of frequent flyer miles, most of us don’t have the luxury of unlimited time and money for travel. Meaning we’ve got to get picky when it comes to planning our next trip and make the most of our short sojourns.
So how should a bohemian traveler choose their next vacation spot? To determine my upcoming international escape—I finally settled on Ireland!—I followed the tips below.
Fellow bohos, behold:
Let your ancestors inspire your next trip. Your father’s side of the family is German? Hit up Bavaria in March or April for Heidelberger Frühling (Heidelberg Spring). Mom’s part Croatian? Sit seaside in the picturesque Dubrovnik this summer. Knowing that you are connected in some way to whatever country you happen to be visiting makes the experience even more rewarding.
Traveling with others? Learn more about their roots—I once visited a little city in Italy (Lucca) because a fellow traveler’s family was originally from there. When mapping out our itinerary, I was inclined to choose the more well-known Florence, but was pleasantly surprised by how charming Lucca was. Fun fact: the tiny town has a big Mafia presence. Shhh.
Phone a Friend
And not a very good one. You’ve likely heard all about your BFF’s recent stay in Mexico and feel Cancun’d out. Try asking a casual acquaintance or a work colleague if they’ve traveled anywhere interesting recently, and what they did there. A former co-worker of mine once took a bicycling trip to Lord Howe Island in Australia that sounded amazing.
Australia’s obviously a popular tourist destination, but I wouldn’t have thought of signing up for a biking expedition. After seeing her pictures, I’m convinced there’s no better way to see the seven-mile-long spot—or anywhere else, for that matter.
Ask an Expert
Frequent travelers and us bohos, or fans of “off-the-beaten path” type trips, tend to turn up our noses at travel agents, incorrectly assuming they cater to uber-tourists. But a travel agent’s job is to literally know the entire world and to tailor trips for their customers.
Why not take advantage of their knowledge? Start off by sharing with them the tone of your trip—whether it’s a low-key backpacking exploration or a high-octane party weekend. Besides being able to recommend places you might have never heard of—anyone been to Tusheti, Georgia?—agents are usually able to help you get good deals on flights and accommodations.
Definitely use a local agent, though; online agents may be hard to track down later, when and if there’s a problem. There’s actually been a surprising uptick in the use of travel agents lately, despite the crappy economy. If you prefer not to pay someone else do the legwork for your trip, remember that an initial conversation with an agent is free—many of them are happy to offer gratis advice on where to go, even if it doesn’t lead to a sale.
These three tips led me to my decision to embark on my upcoming Irish excursion. I owe my fair skin to my Guinness-swilling ancestors; a long-lost friend’s gorgeous Facebook photos of County Cork’s Shiplake Mountain Hostel has moved the spot to the top of my to-stay list (guests sleep in painted wooden caravans and shower using fresh spring water!); and, I definitely intend to drop by a local agency to see when might be the best time to plan my trip for.
If all else fails, you can always go with the old “throwing a dart at a map of the world” option. It works for this couple.
Photos via Kay Boatner and Lord Howe Island Tourism