How to Choose a Travel Destination If You've Never Traveled Before

How to Choose a Travel Destination If You've Never Traveled Before

Chapter 2: How to Choose a Travel Destination If You’ve Never Traveled Before

Choosing a travel destination is a thrilling experience. As a first-time traveler, you may feel overwhelmed by options. There are so many sights to see around the globe from ancient ruins to tropical rainforests—how can you decide? We’ll help you narrow it down. In this chapter, we’ll provide tips for choosing where to travel for first-time travelers. If you still feel stuck, contact our Global Program Advisors.

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Tips for Choosing Where to Travel

Use the following tips to help you choose a destination you’ll love and never forget!

1. Think About Your Likes and Dislikes

First, consider the type of environment you most enjoy, whether that be the city or country or a hot or cold climate. Also, think about if you’d rather travel somewhere well-explored or off the beaten path.

2. Be Mindful of the Distance

You can benefit from traveling and having new experiences just about anywhere. You don’t necessarily have to travel abroad to step out of your comfort zone and grow. Staying closer to home can provide an excellent introduction to travel with all of the fun activities and benefits of traveling far away while providing some comfort and minimizing fears. So, if you’re not ready to hop on the next plane to Mongolia, that’s okay. You still have plenty of options!

You don't have to travel abroad to step out of your comfort zone and grow

Some parents want their child to stay closer to home just to be safe and to ease into independence. Our Young Explorers programs give both parents and students peace of mind while still providing a great way to expand and explore. For example, students who want a life-changing tropical experience can head down to Costa Rica through the Pura Vida Service program.

3. Take Age Into Account

Younger student travelers may not be comfortable with the idea of traveling without their parents, especially if they’ve never traveled alone before. Rustic Pathways offers many options for younger travelers so they can still have a great travel experience while maintaining some of the comforts from home such as:

  • Base House programs: Students live in Rustic-owned or maintained facilities that have more amenities and are designed for students who want to travel and have new experiences with some of the comforts ofhome.
  • Young Explorer programs: These programs are specifically designed for younger students ages 12 to 14 who haven’t traveled much or without their parents.

Speak with a member of our Team to learn more about program options for young student travelers.

4. Consider Your Personality

Consider your hobbies, what you love to do, and topics you care about. For example, if you love animals, you might consider our Panda Conservation and Wild China program where you’ll get to care for pandas in China. Do you enjoy exciting adventures? Look for programs which have a lot of activity and appeal to your adrenaline-junkie side.

You can browse our programs by personality to find the right destination for you whether you’re a language enthusiast, service buff, or athlete. Don’t be afraid to embrace what you love and explore your passions even further. If you’re not sure what you love, follow your curiosity and be open to learning.

5. Keep Career and College Aspirations in Mind

Another way to choose a destination is to consider your dreams and career aspirations. Traveling is a great way to put your passions to the test and build skills you can apply in the future. For example, if you want to become a doctor or work in the medical field, check out programs where you can learn more about community health. For future teachers, look for opportunities to volunteer or partner with local schools. Those interested in more artistic pursuits, like photography, can enhance their skills and learn more advanced techniques while also immersing in new cultures.

Teenage girl snorkeling in the Australian Great Barrier Reef on a Rustic Pathways program

6. Consider How Much Time You Have to Travel

If you only have a few days, it may be better to stay closer to home so you can spend the maximum amount of time in the destination and less time traveling to and from it. On the other hand, if you have a week or two or more, long-distance trips may be a better option for jumping into something completely different and new.

7. Consider Your Budget

Finally, you’ll need to consider your travel budget when planning your journey abroad. It’s important to set a maximum amount you’re willing to spend on the trip and keep that budget in mind as you plan.

One tip to keep in mind is to make sure you know exactly what is included in the cost of your trip. For example, all Rustic Pathways programs include food, housing, and in-country transportation, but that is not always the case with other programs.

Rustic Pathways also offers scholarships to cover part or all of the program fee based on financial need and merit. You can also follow these fundraising tips or set up your own fundraising page to set a goal and make it happen.

Best Places to Go for First-Time Travelers

If you’re wondering where you can travel outside of the U.S., know that you have tons of options. Whether you love beaches, forests, cities, or sky-reaching mountains, there’s a place for you!

All of the countries we visit at Rustic Pathways make an excellent choice for a first-time traveler because all of our programs are designed to keep students safe whether they’ve traveled before or not. Through Rustic Pathways student travel programs, you can choose any of the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Cambodia
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Fiji Islands
  • France
  • Ghana
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Mongolia
  • Morocco
  • Peru
  • South Korea
  • Tanzania
  • Thailand
  • United States
  • Vietnam

Students will a more adventurous spirit can enroll in the Mystery Trip program. With this program, you’ll get a few hints in the mail pointing to your destination—you’ll officially find out where you’re going when you arrive at the airport for your flight—but you’ll only know each adventure that awaits as it unfolds.