How to Choose Your Next Travel Destination
1 – Figure out how much time you have
First of all, how long do you have for your next travel destination? The last thing you want to do is rush through a city or place that requires more time than you have. Are you looking into a 2-week vacation or a weekend trip?
Some cities can be done quickly two or three-day weekendswhile other destinations could require weeks.
Make sure you leave time in between activities too. The last thing you want is to come home from a vacation, more tired than before you left.
2 – Set a budget
Your next travel destination will mainly be decided on what your trip budget is. Sure, the thought of indulging in a 10-day escape to a private villa in the Maldives sounds like pure bliss, but let’s pause for a reality check: Will it align with your financial reality?
This is where the magic of setting a practical budget comes into play. Start by calculating the costs of everything you want to do on your trip to figure out the amount of money you’ll need for the trip. I recommend breaking it into manageable categories like accommodation, transportation (including flights), dining, and activities so you can see how much you’ll need.
This will help you see where you can cut costs if needed. Maybe you can swap out the 4-star hotel to find cheaper accommodations so that you can do that snorkeling tour you’ve always wanted to try. Or eat the free hotel breakfast every day so you can indulge in that expensive dinner from a new hot spot. This will also help you filter out some locations that may be out of your budget.
3 – Decide who you will be traveling with
Will you be traveling with your partner, your kids, or your family? Will it be a girl’s or guys’ weekend, or will you be going solo? The company you keep can truly shape your travel experience, and it will be a great way to help determine what destination to go to.
It’s a crucial factor to consider as it influences the practicality and enjoyment of certain destinations and activities. Figure out who you want to go with and determine what activities might suit you and these people. That will help you choose a destination.
4 – Keep a list of exciting destinations
I recommend keeping a list of your dream travel destinations all year long. Maybe you watched a documentary about a special country you wanted to visit one day. Or a the book you read inspired you to travel to that one city solo, eventually. Whatever it is, write it down. Having a list of different destinations will keep you open-minded for future trips.
Once you have a list of some places you are excited about visiting one day, you can always go back to them when you’re wondering where to go to do a bit more research on each one! A fun way to do this is to read a book that showcases a traveler’s story in the area or bookmark travel blogs on that specific destination. That way, when the time comes, you will be ready!
5 – Figure out what time of year you can go
Each travel destination has a peak season and off-season. If taking a cheap trip is what you are looking for, then travel outside of peak season. But if you want to get the full experience of a certain place, peak season may be just for you.
hawaiian is a good example of this. The busiest time to visit here is from December to February. The weather is beautiful, providing an escape from the colder months in the central United States. Then when March rolls around, the rainy season begins. This means fewer travelers and cheaper flights and accommodations. People avoid the rainy season here because it can ruin your beach day or make your dream hiking trail too muddy. If you want to make sure you can do every outdoor activity you have planned, then peak season may be better for you.
Always research the weather of the time of year you are planning on going to your next travel destination. Cross-reference that with the activities you have planned to ensure none of those will get canceled due to common weather at that time.
Another important tip is always to check when hurricane season is for tropical areas like the Bahamas and Florida. Also, investigate snowfall amounts if traveling in winter to snowy areas like Alaska or Switzerland.
6 – Figure out your favorite travel weather
Speaking of the time of year, what is your weather style and favorite season? This is always a great question to ask yourself. Some people are way more drawn to summer and lounging on the beach, while others love an adventure around a city in the fall or a misty or rainy experience in the spring.
Just keep in mind what type of weather you prefer when you’re looking to book your vacation and determine if this is going to be an off-season or busy season at the destination you’re going to. This might factor into the price and kind of trip you take as well.
7 – Look at flight deals
When determining a destination to visit, it always helps me to look up flights! You can go to Skyscanner or Google Flights and type in from your home airport to ‘Anywhere” in the world to see flight prices over the dates you’re looking to go. I like to do this to see what month might be the cheapest and where I can find the best deal.
The best way to save money on flights is to have flexibility. One tip is to book outside of the peak season. A good example is summer flights to Iceland which are always more expensive due to the maximum sunlight hours and beautiful weather. However, Iceland in winter is just as beautiful! If you have a flexible calendar, this could save you hundreds, if not thousands, on flights, hotels, and even tours.
The next tip is to book your flight way in advance. If you are traveling for an event or during peak season, book your flight as soon as possible. Six to eight months out is a better time to get cheap flights. This also works with traveling during the holidays. You will notice an insane spike the closer the holiday gets due to demand and travelers waiting until the last minute.
You can also try to book a last-minute flight if you don’t have any travel plans. If the plane has a lot of seats left, the demand goes down, and so does the price. I don’t recommend this for a trip you have planned out because the flight could rise in price too. It is a good option for a last-minute getaway.
8 – Ask for suggestions
This is where your trusted travel bloggers are going to come in and save the day! Spend time reading about what other bloggers did when they visited the destination you are interested in.
I’m also a huge fan of using Pinterest to research destinations I’m looking to travel to. There are great blog posts about very specific destinations that can help you plan your entire trip!
You can also join the Facebook group Girls Love Travel. This group started small but now has over one million members. It is a community of female travelers who travel solo or in groups.
TravelFiends is another great community of 50,000 members that allows all members who adore travel. You can ask any questions about a destination, and group members will comment with their favorite tips and tricks. You can also ask for advice from other people who have the same travel style as you. Whether you are traveling as a couple, traveling solo, or with other travel companions, there is someone with answers to your questions!
9 – Pick An Event To Attend
Picking an event is one of the best ways to choose your travel destination. It makes choosing a place easy because you’re already going to that specific area for the event. Make sure to add on a few days before and after the event, so you have time to explore the destination you are traveling to. Try to book your hotel close to the event, too, so you don’t have to deal with insane event traffic every day.
If you decide to travel for an event, that doesn’t mean you’re locked into that specific area. For example, if you are attending an event in Los Angeles, you could take a day trip out to Joshua Tree. Or if you find yourself in New York City, you can take the train up to Boston if you want. Use the event as your home base for most of your trip and then explore however you’d like!
10. Make an Itinerary
If you are torn between a few different places to travel to, make an itinerary. Grab your favorite notebook or create a Google doc and write out exactly what you would like to do here. Combine this with the budget and time you picked out. This will allow you to see if the trip is realistic.
I recommend doing this for the destinations you are torn between. Laying it all on paper or a document will help you see how much you have planned. As well as where you can save time and money. If you are already over your budget by day two, maybe save that trip for another time.
You can also see how much time you have to relax between tours and adventures. Because, let’s be real, a packed itinerary always sounds fun in your head. But, sometimes, when you lay it out in front of you, you will see where there is too much planned.
11 – Get Creative
Okay, so you decided you want to spend a week at the beach, now what? While you can easily google the top 10 beaches in the United States, you want to find a destination that calls to you. This involves getting creative. Think of the two things (I’(ll explain below) you truly love and see if you can combine them when choosing a destination.
A good example would be, maybe you love giving back to the community and the beach. If you do, then find a destination that offers a beach cleanup during the time you visit. If surfing is an activity you enjoy doing, then find a beach location that offers some of the best surfing you can find. Getting creative will help narrow down your travel destination list to a few special places that really pique your interest.
12. Get Excited
That’s right, get excited about that place you are thinking of traveling to. I always put a picture of my dream destination as the background on my laptop. That way, anytime I am having a bad day, it reminds me I have something to look forward to.
If you have the date set, then set a vacation countdown timer on your phone or computer. You can start putting certain outfits you are interested in bringing to the side of the closet. Whatever helps you get excited about your trip.