On my recent trip to Florida, I did complain a lot about America on Facebook to the point where some of my friends were wondering why I bothered going there in the first place since I obviously wasn’t fond of Florida. I had to stress time and again, work took me to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral so I decided to spend some time in Florida since I was already there. One friend even said, “if you don’t like apples, why are you eating apple pie?” There are a few basic fundamental questions we have to ask ourselves when selecting a holiday destinations and I have come up with a short list of five crucial factors to consider – your ideal holiday destination ought to tick as many of these boxes as possible.
1. Beautiful scenery, breathtaking landscapes
Now one important factor when it comes to traveling is the opportunity to see beautiful scenery that we are unable to see in the areas where we live. We’re talking about majestic waterfalls, canyons, cliffs, mountains, pristine islands surrounded by clear blue waters and fields of wildflowers in full blooms. If you live in a big city, you are probably unable to witness such wonders of nature in your neighbourhood and seeing them on your computer screen just isn’t the same thing as being there yourself. Mother nature is a fantastic artist and so many people take holidays to see her best creations – from Victoria Falls to the Grand Canyon to the Swiss Alps to the Great Barrier Reef to the unspoilt beaches of Boracay in the Philippines, there is so much to explore when it comes to paying tribute to Mother Nature’s most amazing creations.
2. Man-made attractions
Us human beings can give mother nature a run for her money when it comes to creating interesting tourist attractions as well! As for which man-made attraction would appeal to you, well that depends on the individual. Some people spend thousands of dollars going to Disneyland whilst I couldn’t be less interested in going to Disney World despite being in Orlando. Some visitors to London can spend hours in the Tate Modern museum, whilst others couldn’t be less interested in the modern art they present. What you visit is up to you: from the Eiffel Tower in Paris to Universal Studio theme parks to the Great Wall of China to the ancient temples of Kyoto to the Colosseum in Rome to the Atomium in Brussels to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida – there is plenty for you to choose from to include in your holiday.
3. Interesting local culture
Another good reason for you to travel is to see the way people from another culture live their lives – now there are some tourists who are not so keen on that: they go on a guided tour in a group of people from their own countries, take photos but rarely ever speak to a local. I think people like that are increasingly in the minority – I remember a tour I took with my parents in 1985 when we went to America: we were traveling with a group of Singaporeans and our tour guide was Singaporean. I suppose my parents didn’t have the confidence to travel independently then – but I was determined to do the complete opposite on my most recent travels when I used AirBNB for practically all of my accommodation on this trip. It was particularly interesting in the Dominican Republic where we stayed with the locals (some of whom barely spoke any English) and it was fascinating to see how the locals live – now that’s not necessarily for everyone. It wouldn’t have been possible to do it if I didn’t at least speak some Spanish and I would hesitate to do this in a country where I didn’t speak the local language.
But of course, this has to be qualified of course. Someone who takes a keen interest in K-culture in general would enjoy going local in South Korea, but if you have little or no interest in Korean culture, then experiencing something new for the sake of experiencing something new really isn’t going to be all that meaningful or fun. I realized that as I traveled around rural Florida and was just mortified in seeing all these posters for Trump (and not a single pro-Clinton poster in sight) – oh dear, it was rather disconcerting. I was almost tempted to book an AirBNB with some Christian missionaries just to embrace the local culture but decided that it would not be a pleasant experience for either them or me if we started talking and they realized just how much I hated Donald Trump. The fact is I didn’t like the local culture where I was, so I didn’t see the point of embracing it any more than I had to.
4. Gourmet food, holiday for your taste buds
Ah yes. Enjoying great food during your holiday will undoubtedly make your experience better – but there are several ways to do it. Firstly, some people enjoy discovering street food, Japan is a great place for that. Going to somewhere like Shinsekai in Osaka with an empty stomach and a wallet full of Yen would be heaven for anyone who loves Japanese food. On the other hand, some with a sense of adventure love discovering new things they have never heard of before whilst on holiday – that is how I discovered the divine Greek dish of Kokoretsi (grilled lamb’s offal), Turkish Dondurma (a kind of sticky ice cream), the Dominican dishes Pica Pollo (spicy fried chicken) and Chicharrón (spicy grilled pork rinds). The best food experiences need not necessarily have to be found in the expensive restaurants, good food need not have to be expensive. However, for me, I love visiting Singapore because it is also a chance for me to eat all the hawker food that I simply cannot get in Europe – like seriously, it is really hard to find an authentic Singaporean Laksa in the UK you know?
5. Sports and other activities
There are certain sports which you may not be able to do where you live so you have to travel quite a long distance to do them. Skiing is a good example – unless you already live rather close to a ski resort, you will need to travel a considerable distance to take a skiing holiday. Likewise, surfers can travel thousands of miles just to find the perfect conditions with the right kind of waves to enjoy a surfing holiday. I have friends who love horse riding and would travel to the Rocky Mountains in Canada, just so they can ride horses for hours in the beautiful countryside. Likewise, if you are a thrill seeker and adrenaline junkie, you would enjoy whitewater rafting, but you may have to travel a very long way to find a river with suitable conditions to do that. Those who like scuba diving may also travel a very long way to dive near tropical reefs and shipwrecks, after all – it is a lot more fun to have something interesting to explore whilst underwater.
6. Spending quality time with your traveling companions
Lastly, unless you chose to travel alone, traveling should be about the experiences you share with the people you travel with. Maybe you have a good friend or family member you don’t spend enough time with – why not go on holiday together and use that time to reconnect with them? Thus even if you are stuck in an airport for holidays because your flight is delayed, you can still use that time fruitfully to catch up with your traveling companions. That is why it is important to choose the right people to travel with, as you can turn the most mundane experiences into the most fun ones. Florida wasn’t that interesting, but I got the chance to get to know one of my new colleagues very well on this road trip around Florida. As we drove through the sleepy town of Titusville (like so many small towns in America, there was nothing interesting there), I joked, “let’s find a big sign of the town and take a photo standing in front of U so it would read Titsville.” Before I knew it, we had pulled up next to a sign and she followed through with my suggestion – it’s nice to know that I am working with people who have an equally puerile sense of humour!
So, out of these six categories, your ideal holiday should be able to tick as many boxes as possible. For example, going skiing with your friends in a place like Japan will potentially at least five out of six boxes here. I guess I wasn’t totally satisfied with Florida as it only ticked two boxes: spending time with my friends and man-made attractions. I found Kennedy Space Center interesting enough, as was Miami – but other than that, there was nothing about the landscape or the scenery that was particularly interesting (I am not a fan of the beaches), the local culture didn’t interest me, we didn’t do any sporting activities and the food wasn’t great. I suppose if work hadn’t taken me to Florida in the first place, I would have never chosen it as a holiday destination. So I hope I’ve given you plenty of food for thought when it comes to choosing where your next holiday will take you – how many boxes can you tick from my list above? Thanks for reading.