With exciting travel destinations constantly popping up in your social media feeds, it’s hard to resist that feeling of wanderlust. Africa is such a big place that sometimes it seems like an impossible task to narrow down your travel plans to just one location. So, how should you go about choosing your next destination?
Planning a trip is exciting; even the boring bits like getting your vaccinations in order or skipping on your daily cappuccino to top up the travel fund. Yet, in a world with so many amazing destinations and potential adventures, sometimes the most difficult thing can be deciding exactly where to go.
You could throw a dart at your African map, or take one of those quizzes that promise to deliver your ideal getaway from your answers to a few questions about pizza. You could even create a Twitter or Instagram poll and see where your friends want to send you. But really it’s a decision that should be made with care, and with a number of important factors in mind.
If you’re ready for your next big trip but need a little inspiration, well, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading to discover how to choose your next travel destination.
First of all, let’s start with some questions:
City, beach or countryside
Hot or cold weather?
Adventure or relaxation?
Shopping, culture or adrenaline?
Family, friends or bae/partner? Or maybe solo?
Independent travel or have everything organised for you?
Budget or splash the cash? Or somewhere in the middle?
Off the beaten track or a tried and tested destination?
Work out your budget
Figuring out how much money you have to spend will probably rule out certain destinations immediately. If you’re working with the tightest of budgets, then you need to be realistic about what you’re going to be able to afford, and it may mean putting your dream destination on hold. Getting into debt for a holiday is never a good idea, so don’t be tempted to stick a five-star getaway on the credit card knowing you’ll struggle to pay it off.
Calculate your holiday budget by adding together what you already have in your travel fund to what you’re likely to have saved by the time you leave. From here, you can see whether that total matches your estimated costs for the destinations you’re considering.
Once you’ve narrowed this down, you can start to discard certain places and put others under more serious consideration.
Think about what type of holiday you want
The type of holiday you want will have a big bearing on where you actually choose to go, whether it’s a bustling city, a cultural odyssey, or a laid back beach. Though there are some destinations that cater to virtually every type of getaway, it’s more common that certain locations are more suited to one.
Choose between an invigorating adventure or some serious relaxation, an epic road trip or an overseas escape, a touch of luxury or a no-frills budget break. Once you’ve narrowed this down, you can start to discard certain places and put others under more serious consideration.
Beyond this, though, travel planning is about crafting a journey or experience for you and your travel companions.
What do you hope to gain from your travels? What will your travel companions gain from the trip?
What experiences do you want to have with your travel companions, or if solo, on your own?
How do you want to remember this trip? Is there a lasting impact you’re hoping for?
Think Outside The Box
But seriously, think outside for a bit. And whilst most of us haven’t been everywhere in Africa, someone has been there and would be more than happy to tell you where we love, where to avoid and where’s up and coming.
Follow Sihle Khumalo’s journey through his travel memoir Rainbow Nation My Zulu Black Arse as he sets out to investigate the state of the nation, from its highest successes to its most depressing failures.
Follow Chris Hani & The Luthuli Detachment, which was created on the banks of the Zambezi River. It was so christened by OR Tambo, then-ANC deputy president, in honour of Albert John Luthuli, the president of the ANC who had died on July 21. The mission of the 79-odd group of freedom fighters was quietly to set up bases in selected areas in Zimbabwe, and for some to proceed further south and cross the Limpopo River to build an underground resistance network in South Africa.
Keep an eye out for your favourite blogger’s ‘best of’ articles, bucket list ideas and off-the-beaten-track adventures – or do as we do and fall down a rabbit hole until you discover the sort of place you simply can’t get out of your head.
If you’re planning on travelling solo, then you can ignore this one as you only have yourself to please. But if you’re going on a trip with friends or family, then you need to consider their interests as well as your own. This can be a tricky feat to pull off, particularly if everyone going wants different things, but there are ways to ensure that everyone is happy with the final decision.
The best way to do this is to get them involved in the decision-making process so they don’t feel like the destination is being forced on them. If you’re travelling as a family, as a couple, or as a group of friends, then it’s important to sit down and have a discussion about what will work for everyone.
Sign up for newsletters & follow on social media
How many times have you heard about an airline’s 24-hour flash sale an hour after it ended, or gone in search of a promotional deal only to discover the last seats remaining were on a 2.30 a.m. flight from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls? Turns out there’s an easy fix – sign up for regular newsletters. You’ll be the first to know about any new offers, and every week you’ll have an inbox overflowing with new travel possibilities!
Travel Blogger Farirai Sanyika says it better on her blog, “I love a good bargain. I follow every airline on social media so as to not miss out on flight sales.”
Pick the activity first
There’s no point heading to Victoria Fall’s if what you really want is a surf holiday or the Kruger if you’d quite like to hit the mountains.
If your passion is for a particular outdoor activity, search the information and inspiration around that. Discover those epic treks you’d never considered, the windiest spots to make your kite-surfing dreams come true or the best mountains to indulge in some hiking – and pray you can afford to visit the place that looks absolutely perfect for you!
Match your destination to your leave day allotment
The amount of holiday time you have can mean the difference between staying closer to home and jetting off on a long haul flight. If you’ve only got a few days spare, then there’s no point wasting two of them on getting to and from your chosen destination. You probably don’t want to plan to pack too much moving around into a shorter time frame either, or you risk returning more exhausted than when you left.
As a rule of thumb, the less the amount of time you have, the shorter the distance you should travel, both to your destination and during your holiday. If you’ve got a few weeks or months to play with, then you can consider countries or regions that may not otherwise be possible.
Schedule with special events in mind
Special events like festivals or annual celebrations can be a double-edged sword. You may have your heart set on visiting Cape Town for the Jazz, or Ghana for Christmas. However, it’s important to know that the cost of everything from flights to accommodations and restaurants is likely to go up significantly.
Alternatively, you might hate crowds of people and want to avoid these events like the plague, in which case it still pays to know when they occur. Though the prices may only rise for a short period of time, in my experience, the number of visitors still swells significantly before and after big occasions. These festivals are worth checking put to plan your holiday around.
Take a look on Instagram
Now, whilst we don’t think that what looks good on the ‘gram should be the only or main deciding factor when picking your next trip, it’s not a bad place to start for a little bit of inspiration.
Can’t take your eyes off those desert hues? Consider a trip to Morocco! Fallen a little bit in love with little coastal villages? Lamu might be for you. Keep fawning over accounts of perfect beaches and turquoise seas?
Follow popular hashtags like #travelblogger #travelvlogger #blacktravelfeed #blackgirlstraveltoo #travelingafricans #blacktravel #myafrica# #exploreafrica #africatravelmovement #thisisafrica #travelafrica #BeautifulDestinations, #MyTinyAtlas, #TheAfricanWanderer, #HelloAfrica, #LifeWellTravelled #OpenMyAfrica and #LoveToTravelAfrica for all the drool-worthy insta-fodder your heart could desire!
Research the best time of year to go
When you visit a destination will usually determine what kinds of prices, weather, and even seasonal foods you’ll find. Making assumptions about any of these factors could ruin your trip.
The time of year you choose to travel could also have a large impact on your budget since prices fluctuate depending on whether it’s high or low season. If you really want to make your budget stretch, then it’s wise to head somewhere in its offseason, when you’ll find costs far lower than at peak times.
Do you have any tips to help choose a destination? Share with us in the comments below.