When you travel overseas, it’s so tempting to try to visit as many places as possible in one vacation. In Madrid, you immediately think about how Barcelona is just a short trip away, and how Paris and Lisbon are right around the corner. That’s how grand European tours start to appear in your notebook pages, and before you know it, you’re hoping to visit 10 countries in a month’s time.
On the other hand, there are plenty of reasons to stick around for a while. But then again, who knows when you’ll be able to visit next? From gaining a better understanding of the local culture to making new friends, focusing on one destination could be the key to a rich and meaningful trip.
With so many factors to consider, it can be difficult to decide which type of trip is best for your situation. That’s why we’ve narrowed down the differences between going to a single destination vs multiple destinations. Get your pros and cons list out and start taking notes!
Visiting Multiple Destinations in One Trip…
It’s easy to understand the desire to just pop over to a nearby country. If this is one of those “once in a lifetime” trips, you may not have another opportunity to visit that part of the world again. Besides, people will ask you, “But you were right there…why didn’t you go to city or country X?”
Pros: You Can Experience So Much & Discover What You Like
The temptation of at least being able to see a popular landmark, like the Eiffel Tower, and feel the atmosphere of an iconic area, like the south of France, can make the multiple destination options so appealing. It’s the type of trip that offers you a lot of different once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Sure, you’re probably not going to enjoy everything and will likely run into some things that just aren’t for you
Some travelers argue that busy trips that hit several different destinations at once just give them a better idea of places they’d like to explore further on future expeditions. If you find an amazing town in the Japanese countryside while you’re just passing through on your way to Tokyo, there’s nothing that says you can’t come back for a longer visit in a year or two. You may even find a whole region that you want to explore further on another trip or figure out the type of place you enjoy traveling to most (like small towns instead of big cities) and use that to plan future adventures in other countries.
Cons: You Have to Really Plan & Can Get Burned Out
The big downside with a trip to multiple destinations is that you need to do a lot of planning, especially if you want to save money. Before you start booking your cheap international flights abroad, you’ll have to consider your budget. If you’re too spontaneous, traveling to multiple destinations can drain your wallet. But if you do your research and have the discipline to stick to your budget you can get around without spending as much. Do the research before you go so you don’t get overwhelmed with last-minute budget planning.
Getting “tourist burnout” is another great potential problem. It can be exhausting when you’re constantly on the go, seeing new things, and exploring new places all of the time. It’s especially true if you’re traveling with your family. Even if you don’t think it’ll happen to you, it can. And unless you’re prepared to deal with it and self-aware enough to take a break and relax on your whirlwind journey, it could turn you off of traveling entirely.
A Whole Trip Spent in One Place…
On the other hand, it can be really exciting to really get to know one country or city authentically. It’s exciting to see a country how it operates after the weekend ends and the tourists leave in a mass exodus for their normal homes and lives. It’s a unique experience to discover hidden gems that aren’t written down in guide books as “must-sees.”
Pros: You Can Form Stronger Connections & It’s More Relaxing
The benefits of extended stays in a single destination are not limited to tourist attractions. You can also connect with locals who will help you better understand their home and culture, even in a popular tourist destination like Buenos Aires. You can develop a sense of belonging that often eludes visitors who stay briefly, enjoy some sightseeing, and head back to their hotel rooms or hostels at night. Plus, if you befriend any locals or other long-staying visitors, it could turn into a rewarding human connection that lasts beyond your trip.
Staying in one place for an extended period also give you time to take it easy. Most people’s everyday lives are pretty busy enough, so it’s pretty appealing to not have to maintain constant movement and have some time to just relax. You may find traveling to just one place is the type of journey that leaves you recharged and feeling more positive when you get back home, instead of one where you’re always on the move.
Cons: It Can Be Boring & Leave You Feeling Trapped
There’s a big risk to taking a trip to a single destination without any plans to go anywhere else. There’s no guarantee that wherever you decide to spend your time will be exciting, even if it’s usually a thrilling place. You could end up there during the off-season or when world events force everything to essentially shut down. And if you’re on a tight budget and locked into a pre-purchased departure date, you may not be able to leave early. So if things aren’t what you expected and you can’t afford to leave until your trip is over, you can end up feeling trapped.
So which is better?
It’s really up to personal preference and your specific situation as to which option you choose. Individuals with limited holiday time or funds might choose to visit multiple destinations in order to see more while they can, while travel junkies and frequent fliers may be able to justify immersion in fewer places. In the end, as long as you’re traveling and experiencing someplace new, does it really matter?
Do you prefer traveling to one destination at a time or several? Let us know what you think!