Where to Start
Half of the joy of Immersive Travel is imagining where to go next.
Trip planning is an exercise of imagination, the expression of curiosity, and the definition of a theme.
Imagine approaching an elegant buffet with a great variety of food and drink, ranging from haute cuisine to more basic, but tempting dishes from the far flung parts of the world. You’re hungry. How do you decide what to eat with so much variety? The problem comes down to choice, with an endless array at our fingertips.
Such is the challenge in trip planning. The explorable world lies before us like an elegant, well organized feast. We merely need to decide what’s next on our plate. It sounds easy, and it would be if we had constraints. Using the buffet analogy, if we were seafood lovers for example, we would immediately gravitate toward what we liked most, adding that to our plate. And so it is with trip planning. We need to know what we like, or at least what interests us next, either due to our own inspiration, or the ongoing execution of a theme.
The theme is the thread that binds a collection of destinations together into a trip, giving it greater meaning than the sum of its individual parts. Themes are derived from our desires and motivations for travel, and may be geographical, historical, or cultural in nature. See the post on Immersive Travel Motivation to get an idea and find your travel inspiration.
Let’s take Europe as the section of the world buffet we want to explore next, as we explore our personal desires. We don’t have the appetite to explore all of Europe, so we need to drill down. We can choose a specific country, or a culture to further refine our trip theme. For example, suppose we want to explore German Language as a cultural variation, and refinement to our work-in-progress theme. This narrows the geography to the borders of Switzerland, Germany, and Austria – a circuit that is doable in a couple of weeks by rental car, and would be a wonderfully immersive travel experience. Naturally, this presumes we like German language centric cultures. We need to know what we like.
The approach is to pick a section of the buffet, and narrow the selection down to what accommodates our current desires. Choose a hemisphere, then a continent, followed by a country or region, then select some destinations that allow a theme to flow.
Sounds simple, and in reality engaging the imagination is the hardest part, but practice makes it ever better over time. Once the big picture comes into view, what remains is logistics – airfare, inter-destination transportation, specific parts of town to settle into, and the all important selection of residence. The residence contributes significantly to the immersive travel experience, and should be selected judiciously.