Travel Inspiration: 7 Excellent Sources to Plan a Fabulous Vacation

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How do you pick where to go? Here are 7 ideas to get you started.

Where does travel inspiration come from?

Glad you asked.

To answer, we’ve taken 7 destinations that resulted in inspired, immersive journeys. The kind where we felt like we actually soaked some places up.

And, just to show that you don’t need a huge amount of time, we’ve included two that were relatively short trips—but where we still felt immersed in a partcular culture.

Scroll down, or use our handy list to jump to wherever you’d like to go.

  1. The Local Deep Dive
  2. The Serendipity Trip
  3. The “I Read About It Someplace” Earworm
  4. The Movie Date
  5. The Lifelong Quest
  6. The Project
  7. The Proustian Return

Travel Inspiration 1: The Local Deep Dive

Travel inspiration 1 is about opening your eyes and seeing what’s right in front of you.

Because of the many things the pandemic taught me, one of the most important was: #lovelocal.

Some folks, post-pandemic, were ready to dive headfirst and naked into the first airplane that would take them someplace. Anyplace.

I, personally, have needed a little reconditioning.

So our single night in Detroit, our nearest big city, was wonderful.

The Headroam post, 10 Fun Things to Do in Detroit, provides expert advice from a Michigander passionate about Motown.

Key to preparation: We loved Visit Detroit, an excellent site for tourists. Pretty much all cities or regions have an equivalent website.

We also looked on AirBnB to find a local tour, and lucked out with Alina, a superb guide who led us merrily all over town to countless cool places that we’d love to return to. We heartily reco you check AirBnB Experiences, With Locals, and just google “[Place Name here] walking tour.” Even, maybe especially, if you’re from there.

No matter how well you may think you know a place? Somebody knows it in a different way.

Travel Inspiration 2: The Serendipity Trip

Are you in a position where, on pretty short notice, you can pack up and hang out somewhere for a several days—even a week or more?

AND do it for almost free? (At least for housing, meaning the rest of the money can go toward stuff like getting there.)

You, my friend, are an ideal candidate for a home swap program. Love Home Swap is the one we recommend and have used to go to a bunch of cool places.

And the most spur of the moment one: Ireland. Dun Laoghaire, which is pronounced “Dun Leary,” which you would never, ever know from looking at it. Irish! It’s harder than Czech! (Ok, that’s arguable.)

Steve and I did not have Ireland on our radar AT ALL.

I mean, I’d always been fascinated by it, because I’m fascinated by everywhere. And I love cities, and knew Dublin would rock. (It does.)

But without getting a note from Jane in Dun Laoghaire? It’s questionable that we would have made it there.

Also, from here out, it’s DL, because Dun Laoghaire is only slightly less confusing to read than it is to type.

As it turns out, we absolutely loved DL, which is about 20 minutes on the train from Dublin. And is also RIGHT on Irish Sea.

AND completely beautiful and charming.

Here’s how it worked. We have a property to swap in Germany, in the Black Forest. Steve’s previous wife was German (she died before I ever met him). So they built a home there, and it’s super cool to go to Germany once a year.

Well, we received a request from Jane to swap with her. And we were game.

Because we didn’t have to spend anything beyond Love Home Swap’s annual fee—about what you’d spend for a night or two in a good hotel—we could take a couple of weeks, soak up Dublin and DL, and even make a side trip to the west side of Ireland and drive out to the breathtaking Dingle Peninsula.

This wasn’t bucket list travel. This was Serendipity based on Jane liking our house, and us having the opportunity to say, “Why not?”

I’ll never forget the magic of that trip. Getting to know a funny little pub where Steve could get his daily Guinness….

….and adopting a greengrocer where I could get glorious Irish produce, and a fish seller where I could get glorious Irish salmon.

easy roasted salmon with fresh greens

With Love Home Swap, you can also be Jane. Just start scouting, be pretty open about your options, and be ready to go.

As long as you can spring for the ticket, you’re in luck.

Travel Inspiration 3: The “I Read About It Someplace” Earworm

I used to wait, breathlessly, for the New York Times to release their annual “52 Places” list sometime in January.

In fact, for a while, I would just plot out my year, checking out one of the places every week. That was back when I didn’t have ways or means to get anywhere.

So that still works. Spending a week’s leisure time checking out a particular place: It’s still my idea of fun.

And of course, the 52 Places list—or whatever source you have that puts cool destinations on your radar—can be a superb way to Read About Something Someplace and then decide you have to see it in person.

Here’s a picture of Steve and me visiting there. The post is soon to come. Watch this space.

kissing in the valley of the moon, atacama desert, chile

Travel Inspiration 4. The Movie Date

When I worked for Criterion—back in its laserdisc days—I ended up producing a number of adaptations, including The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Philip Kaufman’s version of the Milan Kundera book.

The movie takes place and was filmed in Prague. It’s wonderful.

The book is even more wonderful.

So is the city. Check out why we love Prague in this post.

Travel Inspiration 5: The Lifelong Quest

I heard about Iguazu Falls when I was a kid.

You start making bucket lists long before you know they exist.

Soon, I’ll be posting tips for seeing the falls from both sides, Argentina and Brazil.

And when it comes to the stuff you dreamt about as a kid? Start researching. You can still get there.

Travel Inspiration 6. The Project

Another one of those Criterion adaptations I worked on: Evita. My version, alas, was not translated from laserdisc to DVD.

But it began a fascination with Eva Peron and Argentina in general. As of now, Steve and I have spent over 2 months there, broken into 2 installments. Our adventures will be reported soon.

Travel Inspiration 7: The Proustian Return

Finally, I returned to Rome a few years ago—after about a 40-year-hiatus.

That’s coming soon as well.

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