How Geographers plan a Holiday

In this post I thought I would talk you through the process I go through when planning on travelling. As someone who loves not only seeing the world, but also understand how various physical, social and political processes came to form it, selecting places that satisfy my curiosity is important.

I am currently planning a tour of the USA with two of my best friends. I’ll take you through some of the places we will be visiting, and why these places appeal to us so much as geographers.


Pacific North West

The first part of out trip is actually fieldwork. We are travelling around Washington, Oregon and Idaho for just under 2 weeks with our university, exploring the landscape and undertaking research projects. Why? Well. Asides from having a stunning landscape…

Riggins, Idaho. Yes, I am lucky enough to be staying here during my trip. Photo credit: Salmon River Photos


Mt St Helens everybody… Photo Credit: Wikimedia

And loads of interesting cultures to explore.

Portland has more than just hipsters… their food game is seriously strong too. Photo credit: Trazee Travel

We get to discover a part of the US we probably would never have visited on our own. If any of you have been to the PNW, let me know what bars/places/spots we should check out!


San Francisco

Asides from wanting to be Mia from the Princess Diaries, San Francisco has fascinated us in many other ways. The LGBTQ scene in San Fran is kind of  a big deal, and loads of work has been written about it. Only last year we were writing assignments on the LGBTQ communities of San Francisco… and now we will get to go down and see the places. (Disclaimer: this is in no way treating the LGBTQ community as some kind of zoo, we are generally interested in seeing the spaces we have researched and written about so much. We are all supporters of LGBTQ rights and equality).

Visiting the San Francisco LGBTQ scene will be a highlight of my time in San Fran. Photo Credit: nighttours

San Francisco also had a huge earthquake back in 1906. I’m sure many of us have written about this as a case study, and so being able to see where this occurred will be pretty cool.

Downtown San Fran. Even though this was all flattened in severe earthquakes, it will still be a cool site to visit. Photo credit: Airbnb


LA is a hub of western culture that has spread across the world. LA is globalisation in action, with Disney, the Kardashians and the Hollywood lifestyle all tuned into across the world. Some might think its cheesy or cliche, but I for one cannot wait for a selfie on the walk of fame and a Kardashian style salad overlooking the beach.

Experiencing the LA culture is the only way to see LA in my opinion. Photo credit: Bill on the Road


Oh Vegas. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. A few weeks ago in a lecture, our lecturer used Vegas as an example as to how humans shape the landscape. Many many years ago, geographers used to argue that humans are shaped by their environments/the landscape. A few years on from that, some started arguing that actually, humans shape the landscape. I personally think that Vegas provides a perfect middle ground: Of course a concentrated strip of casinos and bright lights is far from natural, and undeniably man made, but Vegas certainly impacts on how humans behave there. Where else can you marry a stranger in front of Elvis Presley, sleep in a casino or see ‘Venice’ and ‘Paris’ in the same afternoon?

The bright lights of Vegas are nowhere near natural. Photo Credit: ThingsPlan

Grand Canyon

This is one for my physical geographers out there. I have heard from so many people how photos will never do this beauty justice. I believe them. Thanks to the Colorado river, around 20 million years ago, this wonderful canyon has been created. A process of long term erosion, revealing stunning geology and breathtaking views. Any geographers dream come true- prepare for endless photographs.

So pretty. Photo credit: National park

New York

Gossip Girl. Friends. Ugly Betty. The Devil Wears Prada. New York has become one of the most iconic places to visit in the world. But does the representation in media match up to the reality of the city itself? Whilst I will be indulging myself in Macy’s, Fifth Avenue and Sephora, I will also be aware of the underlying social issues such as inequality and homelessness.

The city that never sleeps. Photo credit: SAE Institution. 

New York has a long history and has been constructed through years of icons and monuments. Buildings and parks. New York is a skyscraper, a yellow cab, central park, the statue of liberty. Yet it is always interesting to see how the representation of a place matches up with its reality.



Our last stop. Toronto will be great in terms of culture to compare it to our American visits. I am hoping to get my hands on some proper maple syrup, as well as sampling sites such as the SN tower.

However, whilst meeting some of the lovely Canadians is one of the perks of this stop, the real reason we are going is for the Niagara Falls. A lifetime dream, I couldn’t resist. I am a sucker for waterfalls and this is about as good as it gets. Like the Grand Canyon, no photo will ever do this beauty justice. I can’t wait.

American or Canadian side is the hardest choice. Photo credit: Trip Adviser.


I set off for my travels in May. Closer to the time you can expect more posts about my trip, research project and fun little case studies about some of the places I’m visiting. I know what some of you may be thinking. WHAT ABOUT THE AIR MILES GIRL? I am aware that whilst my trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and a dream come true, it is not so great for the environment. So I will be putting up a post nearer the time about offsetting air-miles, and some of the things I will be doing to counteract the disgusting amounts of pollution I will be contributing towards this summer. Being environmentally aware is so important nowadays, so thinking of ways of improving my footprint is important.

If you have any questions, hints or tips, pop them in the comments below!



3 thoughts on “How Geographers plan a Holiday

  1. Sounds like an amazing holiday in the making, very exciting!! We lived in the PNW for a few years and agree that it is one of the best places to visit for nature and the culture. Seattle, Portland & SF are our 3 favourite cities. The 1 tip related to food I’d like to give is to go to the SF Mission District to have the real Mission Burrito (there is also great ice cream nearby). 🙂 Oh also do not miss Yosemite when visiting SF (didn’t see it mentioned in the post), geography nerd chills will overflow there!

    Do head over to our blog to see our posts on Seattle, Portland & Yosemite including food recommendations from a locals perspective (TripAdvisor brings up mostly Downtown tourist traps to the top).

    Liked by 1 person

      1. If you guys can drive, we highly recommend visiting even if just for a very long day trip, you will not regret it! You have a really cool blog! Keep up the great work.


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