This is the travel website of Shannon O’Brien, a digital tourist and sometimes traveler. There are two main sections: the notebook and travel itineraries.

The “notebook” is a journal of Shannon’s own travel experiences, told from her often eclectic point of view.

The travel itineraries constitute the “best of the best” travel destinations, aggregated from various online rankings. Each itinerary is carefully researched and curated. The methodology is documented below.

Methodology

The methodology for choosing travel destinations is based on a weighted average of several dimensions, including safety, renown, and the sublime. Your vacation should be both safe and memorable, so that’s what these itineraries try to aim for.

First, all countries of the world (as well as states and provinces of the US and Canada) are ranked based on their combined scores on multiple indices from credible foundations:

  1. Economic freedom score
  2. Human rights protections score (Our World in Data and Harvard University)
  3. Homicide rate score

Second, the following “best of” lists are combined, scored, and ranked according to these factors:

  1. Best destination in the world ranking
  2. Oldest cemeteries in the world by date
  3. Tourist attraction consumer ratings
  4. Off the beaten path attraction consumer ratings
  5. Best amusement parks in the world ranking
  6. Best beaches in the world ranking
  7. Best landmarks in the world ranking
  8. Best museums in the world ranking
  9. Most surreal attractions in the world ratings (Asia, Africa, and Europe, and Americas, Australia, and the Pacific)
  10. Oldest known surviving buildings in the world
  11. Top 5 most highly rated UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Each category from the above lists is given a score. These scores are combined and the average is found, indicating the “best of the best” rankings from across the world.

Every itinerary’s attractions are placed in order of where to go each day, with one attraction per day. If you were to look at a map for each attraction, you would see they typically move in a clockwise direction, unless the distance is further than 8 hours of driving. In those cases, typically the day will have an overnight stop at an Airbnb, or a flight will be chosen instead.

Each itinerary allows for as many days of jet lag recovery as the number of days you would spend in the plane. For example, if your flight was two days in the air, then the itinerary would include two days of jet lag recovery time. Flight days are considered one day without an attraction.

The costs included at the end of each itinerary are meant to be example costs. All itineraries start in Seattle, in order to keep the costs as consistent as possible.

Food costs are calculated using a database of median costs of inexpensive meals, three times per day, in the specific country the itinerary is for. Rental car, average gas cost estimate, and admission and ticket costs are also included.

Airbnb is currently one of the most cost-effective ways of finding and securing accommodations. Each location on the itinerary includes the price for a nearby Airbnb, based on the average price of the locale.

The best time to visit the country, based on avoiding busy tourist seasons and bad weather, are included at the end of the itinerary. Also included are the number of days the itinerary should take, assuming one day per attraction, flight, or stopover.

Note that you should take the itineraries with a grain of salt. The itineraries are meant to be helpful guides, but ultimately, you should tailor your travel to your own individual timeframe and interests. Rankings are subject to change, as countries and cultures will always change over time.