Where to Find Travel Inspiration

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I started to write an article about my perfect vacation my perfect holiday and I failed miserably. I failled in part because my perfect holiday is always my next one. There are so many places that I want to go in so many things but I want to do. So let’s focus instead on how you can find a destination for your perfect trip.


if you like me, have lots of destinations on your list of places to see think about being opportunistic in your travel.

  • Sign up for a travel agent mailing list, airline deal newsletters, or other travel newsletters. Here are some I subscribe to:
  1. TravelZoo
  2. iCruise
  3. Sherman’s Travel
  4. Vacations To Go
  5. GroupOn Getaways
  • Hotels and airfare can sometimes be twice as much if you go during high season so look for deals of places that you want to go off-season or better yet shoulder season when the crowds are lower but the weather still good.
  • Look at sites like kayak.com/explore to get an idea of when flights are cheap to a destination. For example, I was looking for someplace to go in July in the middle of the US peak travel season. Europe is at its most expensive as are many other North American destinations. But kayak told me that for some odd reason they were amazing deals to Mexico City and Guadalajara in that same time period. So perhaps this is the time for me to get to Guadalajara and San Miguel de Allende.


What is it that you love about travel? I’m a visual person and a photographer so for me I’m looking for places I can go and come home with beautiful pictures.

  • When I arrive when I arrive at the destination I check out the racks of postcards for the sites to see that I might otherwise overlook.
  • Now I can do the same thing before I even get to a destination by doing a search on Flickr.com for beautiful pictures. So when someone mentions a destination I look on Flickr to see if it’s a place that I would love.
  • I buy guidebooks like the Eyewitness Guides that have lots of great pictures of destinations

If you are not a visual person maybe you travel for food. Maybe the best place for inspiration for you is not the travel section but the cookbook section. You might find the same inspiration in recipes that I find improved in photographs.

Your inspiration might be found in podcasts or novels or movies. Shows like the Bachelor, Survivor or Oprah have made a big impact on tourism for destinations they have featured. My wife was not ready to go to Sub-Saharan Africa until the Bachelorette went to South Africa. You might think more about Istanbul more now that James Bond was just there.


Keep an eye out for opportunities. Do you  have a business trip halfway to someplace you want to go? Did a friend just move someplace cool?

  • My wife and I traveled to London when she was pregnant with our second child because we saw an unbeatable air fare. Yes it might have been easier to wait an go later but we seized the chance.
  • Our first trip to Paris (and Europe in general) was because a former roommate got a post doctorate in Paris. So now we had a floor to crash on and a tour guide. How could we stay home?
  • Our first trip to Hong Kong was when one of our “other daughters” went to school there for a semester. She was glad to see us and we were glad to have someone who knew her way around.
  • My first trip to China was on a business trip when I was working with eBay. They really wanted me to go to Shanghai as we launched their community boards. I tried to convince them that it was not a good use of my time, but they prevailed. It all went smoothly and I ended up mostly sightseeing for two days.
  • My first trip to Berlin was when I extended a business trip to Hanover Germany. It was within a year after the wall fell and I was so close with a weekend on my own.
  • Our first trip to New Orleans was went a college friend got a job in charge of ticket sales for the New Orleans Hornets.

Bucket Lists

I know some people hate the term bucket list but I like the idea of keeping a list of places you want to see in your head or even written down. Here is my bucket list.

So make your list and keep it updated. Many Amateur Traveler listeners save their favorite dozen episodes and use those as a list. If you are only looking for deals to one destination you might miss some opportunities. Having a list of places that you would like to get to can leave you more open to opportunities.


Sometimes you have to turn down one opportunity to accept another. If you are like most people, your time and money are limited. Make your choices without regret if you can.

Two years ago I turned down an incredible offer of a free cruise to Alaska from Carnival Cruises. It still makes me a little sick to think about it. But that year I had plans to travel to the Yucatan with my wife and my daughter and to China with my wife and my son. Both trips were great, even if they weren’t free. Alaska will still be there. It’s on my list.

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by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast, and a co-host for This Week in Travel podcast.

2 Responses to “Where to Find Travel Inspiration”

Margaret Scott


hi Chris, you might like an app I’ve recently launched to find inspiration for your future travels, not that your bucket list looks short!
it’s called Views On Top and is free for iPhone in the AppStore. With photos and details of the places I’ve been and have heard of with great views, in over 390 cities and scenic destinations in 85 countries around the world… please take a look and I hope you’ll recommend any favourite places you’d add if we’ve missed them!
PS there’s a link to download the app on my website



… and follow http://www.CameraAndCarryOn.com for global adventures meeting everyday life. 🙂 We’ve been to 30+ countries and make travel an attainable part of the day to day.

Great list, Chris! My favorite point is the last – if you make it a priority, it’s more doable than you’d think.

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