Are you struggling to find inspiration for your next travel destination? Perhaps it's as simple as finding an affordable holiday nearby where you will have good weather and you do not need a visa?
When we started travelling full-time one of the big challenges we faced was how to pick our destinations in a logical and practical manner! We had a handful of deciding factors and we wanted to find a way to prioritise our potential travel destinations based on our personal preferences.
We started making lists:
Where can we travel Visa-Free?
During what time of the year is the best weather in certain parts of the world?
How do we avoid extreme temperatures and weather conditions that may affect travel?
During what time of the year are the busiest seasons to avoid?
How expensive is a country and can we afford to travel there?
How safe is a country and is there certain travel restrictions we should be aware of?
How expensive is it to get from one country to the next on the list?
We ended up with some unwieldy spreadsheets and clunky lists - but it sort of worked. But we knew there had to be a better way! When you start digging you will find no shortage of travel Planning Tools and Travel Apps but we found that most were focused on a specific portion of the criteria we were interested in and none combined all the information we wanted. Most travel planning sites focus on finding the cheapest flight (which is good!) and few add very basic criteria to filter your results. Some tools and travel planning sites focus on permanent relocation, long-stay visas or to help digital nomads make a decision on where to base themselves. However, we needed to provide answers for 'normal' travellers and holidaymakers as well as for full-time travellers like us.
When you plan your holiday the cost of a flight will always make up a sizable portion of your travel budget. This is even more relevant for short trips and holidays as the actual travel time and cost becomes a large factor relative to your other expenses. For full-time travel, this need not be the case as one tend to spend longer in a certain area which means less long-haul flights. For example, during 2019 we spent time in 8 different countries but most of these were located in South and East Asia thus international flights only comprised 8% of our total yearly spending.
If you travel on a budget, it's still super important to have some idea of how expensive it will be to get to your destination - no matter how long you plan on spending there!
The bizarre situation of a global lockdown and restrictions on travel during 2020 suddenly gave us loads of time - a unique opportunity to reflect on how we could come up with some way of filtering potential travel destinations based on criteria WE chose. We also dreamt of combining it with a more detailed, dynamic page for each country where we could add information to make travel easier for us in the future. Thus, WHERE-TO-NEXT was born!
What started out simple quickly grew into a massive project. Apart from having to decide on the list of destinations and the filter metrics, we had to figure out a way to find (and capture) data in a way that would make for consistent filtering across all destinations. For example, how do you define when a country experiences 'cold' weather if it's in a tropical part of the world? Some countries span across multiple diverse climate regions which really complicates this even further!
Data collection is an ongoing affair as we continue to update current metrics and add new elements to our dataset. Some data metrics we found would remain persistent with little change required and some might require yearly updates. These included, for example, Land Area, Population Size, GDP, Sample Budget Costs, Weather and Tourist seasons, to name but a few. Other metrics requires more regular updates and include, for example, Visa Information, Travel Advisory Level, Value Ranking, Currency Value and current Health Risks. To add approximate flight costs from each country to each other country requires a data matrix of almost 40 000 entries! As you can imagine this is not a trivial exercise.
So how does it work?
The Where-To-Next travel destination tool is completely dynamic and every time you make a change to your criteria the results are updated. You can choose which part of the filter you want to use and it's entirely up to you how you narrow down your results. The major selection criteria include the following:
Visa Type (Dependent on your passport)
Visa-Free - Travel to a country is allowed without the need for a visa - usually with a limit on the number of days allowed.
Visa On Arrival - No visa is required in advance and a visa will be provided at a port of entry. Sometimes at a cost.
eTA - An online application is required prior to your visit. Some electronic visas may come at a cost.
Visa Required - Prior to departure you need to apply for a visa from the destination country. Usually at a cost.
Travel Advisory Level
Extreme Warning (index value: 4.5 - 5) - You should avoid any trips. A high warning index is a sound indicator of potential harm to your health and well-being.
High Risk (index value: 3.5 - 4.5) - Travel should be reduced to a necessary minimum and be conducted with good preparation and high attention.
Medium Risk (index value: 2.5 - 3.5) - Warnings often relate to specific regions within a country. However, high attention is still advised when moving around.
Low Risk (index value: 0 - 2.5) - Usually, this is an indicator that travelling in this country is relatively safe. Higher attention is advised with values > 1.
Set your preference for a specific region or choose a combination of options.
The value index reflects our scale of measuring the affordability of a destination. It is based on the PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) of each country measured against the US Dollar as a base currency.
We update this value by capturing each country's FX rate to the USD on a regular basis and recalculating the country's rank on a scale of 1-199 - with 1 being the cheapest and 199 being the most expensive.
Purchasing power parity (PPP) is an economic theory that allows the comparison of the purchasing power of various world currencies to one another. It is a theoretical exchange rate that allows you to buy the same amount of goods and services in every country.
Daily Budget / Traveller Type
Although we found the Value Index a good indication of the value a travel destination presents, it does not specifically address what the affordability is as a travel destination. To solve this problem we give you the option to set your preferred 'budget type' - for example, Backpacker, Budget Couple, etc. Based on the average daily cost for the different traveller budgets per destination, (which includes Accommodation, Food, Water/Drinks, Local Transportation), you can then set a filter value accordingly.
The best part of the travel destination tool shows once you choose your month of travel as you then can filter out destinations where it is too hot, too cold, too wet or too busy to your liking. Perhaps you're looking for a destination to kite-surf, hike, cycle, ski or even just good beach weather - outside of the main tourist seasons?
At a glance, you will see specific health risks highlighted in your list of results. These include the risk of Malaria, Yellow fever, Zika and Dengue. You should keep in mind that in some countries the certain risks might be isolated to only a small region. Our latest addition to the travel destination filter includes Covid-19 travel restrictions per country - which we update weekly.
You can also view your results in a list format or in a zoomable map:
Don't forget that every destination has its own dedicated country page where you will find loads more information to help you make the best choice for your trip.
This project has been a labour of love for us - and will be ongoing as we don't believe for a moment that we have reached the final version. But we hope you find it to be as useful as we do and enjoy playing around with it to find that next holiday destination.
Our goal is to help you find the perfect destination, to travel the world and have amazing adventures!