The reasons why we travel and the criteria by which we choose our destinations

People travel for all sorts of reasons. For some, travel is the antidote to the way they live the rest of the year. It provides excitement, change, challenge, relaxation, new experiences. People travel to recharge their batteries and get a bit of sun — a high priority indeed, when you come from someplace like Ireland — ‘the land of perpetual autumn’, as I often describe it!

So why do people choose one destination over another? Again, it is invariably for a multiplicity of reasons: proximity; familiarity; security (an increasing issue nowadays); accessibility; reputation; recommendation and of course, curiosity. Perhaps the biggest reason of all though tends to be cost since, in most instances, budgets are finite and therefore dictate what options one can afford. Unfortunately, travellers often make the rooky mistake of just looking at the headline price of getting someplace and putting a roof over their head for the one or two weeks that they’re going to be away. They have less of a tendency to consider how far their euro, dollar or pound will stretch once they’re there, on the ground.

Every year, the Economist magazine’s intelligence unit compile a worldwide cost-of-living survey which assesses the relative cost of living in cities across the world based on a basket of more than 150 items, making it probably the most comprehensive evaluation of its type. Not unexpectedly, western European and Asian capitals tend to feature predominantly in the most expensive category but there are some interesting entries among the list of the cheapest destinations and therefore, are perhaps worth considering as an option for your next trip abroad.

For the fourth consecutive year in a row, Singapore has been identified as the most expensive city in the world so bear that in mind if you’re considering spending a few days there. On the upside, it’s a beautiful, clean and extraordinarily safe place to visit with great hotels, wonderful shopping and loads of things to see and do. Think of it as a mixture of Hong Kong and Dubai! Interestingly, Hong Kong is on the list as the second most expensive city in the world but it is still possible to find keenly-priced hotels in the city as I found when I was last there about two years ago and which I wrote about on Trip Advisor. Zurich, Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul, Geneva, Paris, New York and Copenhagen are the remaining eight cities that, between them, make up the top ten list of most expensive destinations in the world.

It is the other end of the scale however where we find a more interesting selection. Ever been to Almaty? Well perhaps you should reconsider your options as the capital of Kazakhstan is officially the cheapest city destination in the world, ahead of the Nigerian capital, Lagos. I’ve never been to Kazakhstan but one of the world’s most travelled bloggers, Henrik Jeppesen, who has visited every single country in the world and who is currently engaged in visiting all the remaining territories that he hasn’t been to yet, raves about the place so perhaps you should add it to your short list!

A bit closer to home, you might consider popping over to Kiev in Ukraine or even Bucharest in Romania which appear as contenders 8 and 9 respectively on the ten cheapest list! Most of the remaining shortlisted cities in that category are in Algeria, India or Pakistan. It’s been 39 years since I last visited Bucharest so perhaps a return visit is long overdue?

Watch this space!

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