So you want to travel? Deciding on a destination is often times the hardest part! If you're like me, your list of "must see" places grows daily. How do you narrow them down? Here are some things to consider when deciding on where to vacation next!
What is your overall goal for this trip? Do you want to relax on the beach? Do you want to learn about a certain period in history? Do you want to spend time exploring the natural world? Are you a spontaneous backpacker or more of a structured traveler? Maybe you're looking for a combination of these? Whatever your reason for travel, this should be at the forefront of your thought process as you consider destinations. Picking a destination that suits your personality is absolutely vital to creating a successful trip. Once you've narrowed it down, you can start to nitpick through your options.
The next thing to consider is your budget. Are you looking for a long (2-4 week) trip or a short weekend getaway (2-4 days)? How much do you want to spend? The number of destinations, length of trip, transportation, even your departure location from the United States can affect the price of your travels. The biggest tourist destinations will usually be the highest. That being said, there are some incredible "budget" destinations in the world! Decide how much you can and want to spend to narrow your list even further.
Tip: This is a great stage to enlist the help of a travel planner. Many of my clients come to me with a vision or general idea of their vacation and together we pin down the perfect destination. This is one of my favorite parts of the planning process!
This goes hand in hand with budget but it deserves it's own category because often times it's cheap to travel to a destination but will be more expensive daily when you get there due to conversion rates. Seeking out locations where the US dollar will go a long way can be a game changer for your vacation. I'm often shocked to find that this is something people frequently overlook. Don't make that mistake! If a client comes to me without a clear idea of where they want to travel this is often my first step in suggesting destinations! For example, right now $1 USD is approximately 14 South African Rand. While it can be pricey to get to South Africa, a great hotel might only cost you $50 USD a night.
Time of Travel
The time of year you can travel should also be a top consideration. Weather is arguably one of the most important things to consider (often times the peak travel seasons correlate with the best weather months). Don't forget that the Northern and Southern hemispheres experience opposite seasons too! If you're on a tight budget, it's key to know the peak travel months for each destination to avoid peak prices. As a bonus, you'll also miss the largest crowds!
And last but not least.....
It's just a fact that some places are safer to travel to than others. There is a large degree of variation on the safety scale and it's important to know which places should be traveled to with caution and which should be avoided. Travel advisories should always be checked every time you travel, even if it's to a "safe" place. I encourage my clients to spend time reading news about the political, economic, and social conditions of the country they are traveling too. This is something that is so important to me that each of my clients will receive a full report on these topics the week before they depart. That report will also include information about emergency preparedness- how to contact help and where and how to find the nearest US embassy. If you've done your research ahead of time, you should have complete peace of mind during your vacation knowing that you've fully prepared for everything.
Picking a destination shouldn't be stressful, it should be fun! Research into each destination is the key to having a great trip. This takes time. Usually a lot of it. It also takes knowledge about where to gather the best and most reliable information. This step absolutely shouldn't be overlooked or underappreciated. If you're not a seasoned traveler or even if you are but just don't have the time to devote to research and planning, letting a travel planner step in to do the leg work is a great solution! Everyone at Pathfinder Travel Planning are experienced and passionate travelers. We love helping our clients build the vacation of their dreams! Regardless if you choose to use a travel planner or give it a go yourself, I hope that after reading this, picking a destination for your next vacation will be less stressful!