Do you need help choosing your travel destinations?
Whilst we’re not in the business of actually booking trips for others, we can certainly offer you expert guidance on how to choose a destination that meets your interests and budget, and the strategies on how to find cheap flights, how to save money on accommodation, and how to find the best deals on rental cars.
When choosing your travel destinations, it depends on factors like personal travel style, your interests, the length of time you have available, and your finances.
Figure those things out first, then your options for where you can go start to take shape.
Where Do You Start?
With so much advertising shoved in our faces from newspapers, magazines, TV and the internet all vying for our attention, deciding which travel destinations to visit can be overwhelming.
This can lead to procrastination and procrastination leads to you being the world’s best armchair traveler.
I like this quote, not just in regards to travel, but to life:
When choosing your next vacation spot, the following questions will help you narrow down your list and clear the confusion.
Why Do You Want to Travel?
Seriously. WHY do you want to travel?
First knowing why you want to do anything is important. If your WHY is clear and strong enough you’ll commit to it and make it happen.
For me, travel is more than checking things off my list.
Sure it’s nice to get that photo in front of the Grand Canyon and post it on Facebook bragging to your friends, but is there something deeper you want to fulfill?
I don’t travel for the sake of traveling, especially now with young kids because it’s certainly not always relaxing, often the complete opposite.
Do you travel for:
- cultural experiences?
- to get away from the normalcy of life?
It’s important you value your hard earned dollars and if you put more meaning to your trip, you’ll have a better chance of it being a memorable and rewarding experience.
Who Are You Traveling With?
Your destination choices can be affected dramatically by your traveling companions.
If you travel as a family, sit down with your kids and discuss your ideas and interests. Memorable trips are those where each member of the family gets to experience something they love. Finding the balance between adult and kid stuff is important.
If you travel as a couple, talk about your individual desires and expectations.
Be clear on what you both want and make the decision that will suit both of you. Don’t leave it to one-half of the relationship to always make the decision. Maybe you could simply take turns in choosing a destination each year?
What Kind of Trip Did You Have in Mind?
A big part of your decision will come down to personal travel style, what do you like to experience, and what is your everyday life like?
Is your working and family life so hectic that you need a trip to relax, recharge and spend quality time with your family?
Or, are you the type who can’t sit still for long, are wired for action and want to see and do as much as possible? Personally, I like a balance between down time and exploring new things.
What about you? Do you prefer:
- Cities or countryside?
- Beaches or mountains?
- Resorts or road trips?
- Festivals and cultural experiences?
- Shopping or food experiences?
- Adventure or relaxation?
- Luxury, mid-range, or budget?
Are you the type of person who likes to sit by the pool or on the beach all day with a book? Or would this bore you to death? By answering these questions you can narrow down your list.
How Much Time Do You Have?
If you only have 1-2 weeks of vacation time per year, you don’t want to waste too much of that time traveling to and from your destination.
But if you have a month you can look at traveling a little further.
Below are some key points to keep in mind in regards to how much time you have:
Short (1-2 weeks):
- Have less time moving from A to B.
- Choose only 1 country or region.
- You’re likely to spend more money in order to save time.
- Tendency to stuff a lot of activities in, but be warned this can exhaust you.
- More likely to visit those countries that are more expensive.
- More likely to have a rigid schedule with things booked in advance.
Longer-term (2+ weeks)
- Can allow more time for travel between destinations.
- Depending on length, can visit multiple regions/countries.
- Will sacrifice time in order to save money.
- Will need to be extra vigilant with budget and finding deals.
- Focus on packing light and embracing minimalism.
- More room for flexibility in your schedule.
What Is Your Budget?
You can almost always find a match for your budget choices whatever travel destinations you choose.
However, it could change your ultimate decision as it might not be budget enough, particularly if you are traveling long-term when it’s best to stick to the cheaper regions!
Carefully consider the strength of the currency you are traveling on and what areas you can make your dollar travel further. What other currencies is your dollar stronger against?
Think strategically about your options.
What Seasons Do You Like?
Many people travel for the seasons. Are you a summer or winter person?
For us it’s usually summer destinations. It just appeals to us as there is more you can do outdoors and you can travel lighter – trust me, when you have kids you will appreciate this.
So unless you are looking for winter activities, you are more likely following the sun too. This will often mean prices can be higher, except for those regions where it is always hot.
Consider the impact seasons have on where you go. You can waste a lot of money if you don’t get the timing right.
Can You Travel in the Off-Season?
If you are fortunate enough to be flexible in when you can take your vacation time, good for you!
Even if you have kids in school, consider traveling a week or two outside of major school holiday periods to take advantage of the savings.
Fly Where the Deals Are!
Instead of thinking too much about the location of your next travel destination, let the cheap flights make up your mind for you!
Think about using airfare sales to help determine the location of your next vacation, rather than the other way around.
Skyscanner’s go EVERYWHERE feature is cool. Type in the word everywhere in the “To” box on their site and this helps you to select the cheapest destination from your point of origin. Or you can also just leave the “To” box blank. If you’re not fussed on your destination and just want to get out of town this is a fun tool.
Travel in Your Own Backyard
Is money and time an issue for you? Don’t underestimate the benefits of staying local and exploring in your own backyard.
This strategy is one of the most overlooked and cheapest ways of having more travel in your life. Benefits of local travel include:
- Less planning
- Less packing
- Les time away
- No jet lag or burnout
- Usually cheaper
I’ve published a post on how to travel in your own backyard which has suggestions and tips on how to make the most of this strategy.
It’s an easy strategy to implement. Start by taking day trips, then short breaks. After a while you’ll be looking for bigger and longer adventures.
Need specific travel destinations advice?
To search through all our travel destination posts for tips on each region click here.