It took me a while to face the simple fact that I was never going to travel throughout the whole world. My bucket list of destinations kept growing, and while I travel regularly and smartly, I add locations at a quicker rate than I cross them off. Some countries I've already toured still have five to ten more cities I plan on seeing one day.
At some point, the choice is no longer which places I want to see, but which of the many possibilities I should prioritize. And the truth is, there's no simple way to make these decisions.
However, I have found some really innovative ways to pick your next travel destination so that it means something more to you.
1. Use An Ancestry Test
When I first saw that ancestry DNA testing kits were available for a relatively low price, I knew immediately that I needed to try one. My heritage has always been slightly murky. I was raised without a strong connection to my family's past or even a clear indication of where in the world they came from.
So, after finding out that I had more Middle Eastern ancestry than I could have imagined, I decided to make my way through the region. I visited Jordan, Israel and Palestine, Egypt, Turkey, and Lebanon. I spent time getting to know the different cultures, knowing that any one of them may have been of crucial importance to my ancestors.
You can use DNA testing in the same way, finding out which destinations in the world will have more meaning for you. This is especially useful for those of us who weren't brought up with strong connections to a particular heritage.
2. "Complete" a Country
Seasoned travelers like myself often go about seeing as many countries as possible. We end up going to the most famous cities in each country, before moving on to the next one. We want to get to see different cultures and ways of life, after all.
However, we tend to forget that sometimes, the most diversity is found within a country. For example, there is more in common between Jakarta in Indonesia and Bangkok in Thailand than between Jakarta and Lombok, which is also in Indonesia. Indonesia is a great example of a massive country with thousands of islands with vastly different natural features and cultures.
You don't have to go to a massive country or even one with tons of islands to get this diversity though. Spend your time making your way through South Africa and you'll experience innumerable different cultures and languages, landscapes and towns. You will find desert, lush beach towns, lagoon towns, big cities, game reserves, and much much more.
Often, the best way to see more is to "complete" one country rather than skipping from one to the next.
3. Make a Difference
Alternatively, you may be more interested in voluntourism or the like. This is when you use your travels as a way to actually make a difference in the world. It can be incredibly fulfilling, and you ultimately get a much better idea of what life in the country is like by spending time helping those in need.
Of course, you're going to end up in very different locations than you would if you were touring for other purposes. After all, you're not going to go to Lake Como to try and make a difference, but you may well go to a stunning island in the Philippines.