a) Backpacking - just take it as it comes in one's own terms
b) Research and plan the vacation down to every detail - a DIY approach
c) Buy a custom ready-made vacation or package from a travel expert such as a tour operator
It comes down to a number of factors - time, personality, confidence, money. Over the years, I've done all three. These days, I definitely take a DIY approach. I enjoy researching & engaging with communities online (here and on Twitter in particular) to get ideas. I subscribe to a lot of 'deal' newsletters and hunt out bargains. More than once I've booked something just because I could get a bargain air fare (coming from Australia, the flight is often a hugely significant cost). Having said that, there are trips I'd consider buying 'off the shelf' because travelling independently is impossible - such as a voyage to Antarctica.
I also spent an amazing summer in Europe with a first-class Eurail pass. I was very happy to just jump on and off trains and went everywhere from the south of Italy to Trondheim in Norway. It was my first trip to Europe, I had six weeks and I just wanted to see everything I could. I wouldn't push that sort of schedule again.
So I'd look at (a) if my goal was to travel economically. It certainly opens up a lot of possibility to live like a local and get out of the tourist traps. I'd look at (c) if it were somewhere very hard to access independently but it would also need to provide enough personal space (such as on a ship) that I could spend time apart from the group when I needed it (no bus tours for me, thanks), but for me, (b) gives me the excitement, enjoyment and sense of accomplishment when I've researched, engaged with like-minded people and had a great experience.
A DIY approach is the best way for me, you can plan your trip exactly as you prefere, you spend more time doing what you enjoy the most, you visit exactly the things you like.
i like to keep it to one small checked bag and a carry on. i keep a couple changes of clothes in my carry on in case my luggage gets lost. i chose just below average accommodations so i have more cash to drink and eat.
It really depends on the travellers preferences, there is no wrong way to travel and so much depends on the time and money involved.
I tend to take the DIY approach and the planning is a great part of the fun of it for me - I learn SO much! - but I make sure to *not* sort it out down to the detail and leave room for spontaneity and surprise as those end up being the greatest rewards on the road.
The backpacker approach sounds ideal but most people who travel only have a limited time frame and some preliminary planning can save from wasting what precious time is available.
I know so many who love the packed tours because the organizational part of it just isn't their thing but for me discovering things on my own (whether they turn out good or bad) trumps it for me.
Thinking about this answer really showed me how my teacher brain applies to travel. I try to be logical and analytical while learning everything I possibly can and hate it when others do the work for me - thanks for the self-reflection! :)
For me, the best way to travel is how you described in letter "A". In this way, it's a lot less about traveling and more of a state of mind. You are left to your own devices and are responsible for your own pace. This is the kind of environment I learn most about myself and have the time to really learn about a certain place and get to know others on a level a bit different than if I was just passing through or feeling rushed (which is exactly how I would feel if I had everything planned out).
Also, I recently uploaded some photos from the phone I used while traveling around this year and hit the "places" button and was pleasantly surprised with this map of 2014 backpacking. Some of these places were spur of the moment decisions.
Man, I just think you can't beat backpacking hey. You can count on seeing the world in your own terms/staying where you want to stay/develop your own perception of the place.
I suppose it's the least touristy way of travelling, so you can become a part of the landscape, instead of sticking out. That's pretty important to me I guess.
This depends on the person and how much time you have for the trip.
If your time is limited to a few days then it can be a good idea to get things organised a bit in advance so you don't waste too much time waiting for transport and so, but if you have several months then you are better off just winging it.
I mostly travel by foot and bicycle when I travel as I like to travel slow and for several weeks at a time when I travel.
Just me and my bicycle all alone.
This is so individual! I have done A B and C at different points in life and they all have their place in the travel community. For example, where I would feel most comfortable as a student living in Europe is certainly different than, many many years later, where I would feel most comfortable now.
What I have learned in all my travels is that if you can afford it, upgrade your air travel and stay where you personally are most comfortable as much as possible.
I will occasionally play tourist and visit more tourist-y sites, but I mostly like to melt into where I am as much as possible and hang with locals or other travelers, either people I already know or new friends. Whether I'm somewhere for a weekend or a month. It's difficult to immerse yourself if you stay in a huge, fancy hotel where everyone speaks English (though there is something to be said about those places from time to time). It's less difficult to do that if you stay in a smaller place - whether a hotel, B&B, hostel, AirBnB, etc.
To me, the whole point of traveling isn't to take selfies in front of [famous place/thing/etc.], but to really absorb and observe your surroundings and to learn about where I am. The rest is what I call "surface travel", that 10 countries in 8 days stuff. That is for people who are more interested in ticking things off of some list than actually experiencing a place, culture or atmosphere. Which is entirely fine, if that's what you're into, but I prefer a deeper approach and one in which I come home with a real understanding of somewhere new.
I always go with option B because I love to research and plan my own travels and I don't like traveling with travel agences but I'm not much of a backpacker either, thought I backpacked once, in Bolivia and Peru and it was great. Now I'm going to Southeast Asia and I was tempeted to backpack because I think it's the best way to explore destinations like that.
Mentioned in this answer:
Can I choose somewhere in between A and B? I like to plan and do my research using Trippy, but I also love going with the flow and seeing what happens when you get to a destination. So I'd go with a lite DIY approach, but keep it simple based on my general tastes and leave some decisions and destinations open to the excitement of being present and living in the moment!
For me the DIY approach is the best way!
Hello Saro! I don't really think there is a best way to travel. I know how I, generally, like to travel. It's close to B, but only in regards to flights, accommodations, and a few things I know I want to do, or see. Beyond that it's fun for me to have a list. The way I feel about something now, may not be the way I feel about it when I get to a particular destination. For me, it's nice to have a game plan, but also the ability to adjust based on my feelings and experiences once I get there. Expectations and ideas often change once I arrive at a particular place, and part of the fun is the unknown of what that day holds.
The best way to travel is completely subjective. Everyone has their own preference when it comes to travel. I'm the type of person who usually has an idea of what I'd like to get done at each destination. Once I've crossed off items off my list, I let the rest of my journey takes its course.