There are many ways to pick a random travel destination. Here are my thoughts and experiences of different random destination pickers. Also included: random destination generator!
Throwing darts on the map, making a public poll, drawing a random circle on the globe…
Over the years, I’ve used several ways to choose random destinations. In this blog post, I share my experiences of random travel and compare different destination pickers.
Besides sharing my own methods, I’ve also listed other destination randomizers that you can use for your travels. And at the end of the post, you can even try a random destination generator that I created!
How to Choose a Random Destination?
Methods I’ve Tried
1. Throw Darts on the Map
Throwing or dropping darts is probably the most classic way to choose a random travel destination. I employed this method on my first InterRail trip in 2012. As I was preparing for my trip, I bought a set of five darts and threw them all at the map of Europe.
Because I had only three weeks to travel, I kept my eyes open and roughly aimed in Central Europe. The darts landed near Wittenberge and Karlsruhe in Germany, Feldkirch in Austria as well as Bassano del Grappa and San Benedetto del Tronto in Italy.
Some of those towns are very small and obscure, so the method definitely helped me to step out of the beaten track.
- Pros: Throwing darts is fun and cool.
- Cons: Map projections skew the odds. It’s hard to make a dart throw completely random.
2. Let the Public Choose
In 2013, I had a Finnish travel blog/project called Unelmien tiellä (“On the Road of Dreams”). Me and my travel companion Olli traveled around Europe for 20 days, asking 1000 locals to write or draw their dreams for the future on postcards. The cards were posted online and later presented in some exhibitions around Finland.
While traveling in Europe, we sometimes let our Facebook followers choose our next destination. We gave them a few options to choose from and we headed to the place that first got certain amount of votes.
I also used a similar poll during my current 2-year trip around the world when I let you choose my destination between Central America and southern Africa. I’ve really enjoyed this method on both trips and it might just be my favourite way of random travel.
(During Unelmien Tiellä, we also took the randomness one step further. Our followers voted us to go from Czech Republic to Croatia, but we accidentally got on the wrong train. That was a very amusing 16-hour journey to Bucharest, Romania!)
- Pros: Getting others involved with your trip is fgreat. You can pick the possible destinations.
- Cons: You need an audience.
3. Look at the Map
Main article: I Got Off the Train in a Random City in India
There are two ways to use this method. The first one is relatively risk-free and I’ve used it several times: as I plan my RTW route, I look at cities that appear to be on my way. I do a bit of research and visit these cities if they seem alright and fit in my schedule.
Then there’s the spontaneous way. That means making the same choice on the go and skipping the whole research bit. I did that in India when my train didn’t stop on my intended station. After that I looked at the map and decided to drop off at the next city that I saw.
In that case, my random destination (Surat) wasn’t a very interesting experience. However, I was also sick the whole time and I didn’t have an internet connection, so that definitely affected my experience.
- Pros: A very flexible method that’s easy to apply.
- Cons: The destination isn’t completely random.
4. Spin the Globe
This is what they do in the stories, right? The characters close their eyes, spin the globe on its stand and stick their finger on a random location.
If you want to make this completely random, you need a globe that doesn’t have a stand. That’s exactly what I got before my trip around the world – a cheap kid’s beach ball with (a slightly outdated version of) the globe printed on it.
I blindfolded myself, spun the globe in my hands and drew a random circle on it. The circle hit Kenya. It took me two years, but I finally reached Kenya last month.
- Pros: This is as random as it gets!
- Cons: Our planet is mostly covered with water.
Methods I Haven’t Tried
5. Online Random Destination Generators
For a 100 % random location, you can use Random.org’s Random Geographic Coordinates generator. Geomidpoint.com offers a similar Random Point Generator that even lets you limit your random destination within a certain radius of your starting point.
If you truly want to commit to your random destination raffle, you should make sure you have to commit to your first result. Perhaps you could shoot a video of the lottery? Or maybe even live stream it!
6. Throw a Dice/Coin/Whatever
Years ago I heard of a traveller couple who’d pick random train journeys with a dice. The first throw would decide which train on the departure board they would take. The second throw told the amount of stops before disembarking.
Using a dice or a coin or some other item can be a good way for instant randomizing. You only need to make up your own rules and your ready to go.
7. Just Pick a Direction and Go
Some people play with the idea of simply heading off into a random direction. All you’d need to do is pick a direction – like one from the compass – and follow it. The idea sounds clear enough, although the risk of hitting some obstacles on the way might be quite high.
My Couchsurfing host in Kenya said one of his previous guests had done this in Russia. When the backpacker tried to follow his compass east, he ended up finding a top secret military base that had messed up his compass.
Is that story true or not? I’ve got no idea.
Random Destination Generators
I’m not only listing different ways to choose a random destination. I have also created my own generators to help people pick random destinations. First, I created a random destination generator with all the countries in the world, but that was just the beginning.
After that, I’ve created random destination generators for European countries, UNESCO World Heritage sites, US cities… and over a dozen other domains. You can find them all on the Random Generators page.
Do you know other ways of random travel? Have you tried traveling to random destinations yourself? Please share your ideas and experiences in the comments below! 🙂