With exciting new travel destinations bouncing around in your mind and over-zealous advertisers promising a paradise filled with freebies, it is hard to choose where to spend your next vacation. Pinpointing the exact location and then putting all of the logistics in order can be a stressful and time-consuming venture. Believe me, I understand.
Over the years, I’ve developed a strategy to help me with the toughest part.
Choosing the Next Vacation Destination
In addition to your budgetary limitations, there are other things to consider when choosing your next vacation. Ask yourself
>> how much vacation time you have available?
>> if there are visa and passport considerations?
>> Then, go through your Wishlist
I am a firm believer every traveler should have a wishlist of cities, countries, or regions she wants to visit. I have a fairly adequate list (OK, it is 50+ places) but my list is organized. I divided my list by
– Big Trips (international destinations not including Europe or the US) such as Morocco, Tokyo or Thailand
– European Destinations like Spain, Croatia or Prague
– Italian Destinations (more than three hours from Catanzaro) such as Perugia and Assisi
– USA places I haven’t visited, including the city of Boston, New Mexico and Tennessee
– Easier to Reach Places in Italy (no more than three hours from me) such as Lecce, Serre San Bruno and Cefalu’
– Easier to Reach Places in Texas (within driving distance from my hometown) including Canton, Texas or New Orleans, Louisiana (which I have been to, but it is back on the list for another go!)
Even if you aren’t currently planning a vacation – make that list! It is fun to get lost in the excitement, plus it is a great procrastination technique to fill in those post-lunchtime hours at the office. Make your list, print it, and post it. You’ll be glad you did.
The two most important considerations when you are ready to plan that next big trip are MONEY and TIME.
Obviously budget issues affect where you travel. If I am in Catanzaro and only have $1,000 to spend, I’m probably not going to make it to South Africa this time. However, I could spend a few days in France’s Loire Valley, head for a long weekend in Greece, or spend a week in nearby Sila.
The second biggest consideration is how much time you have available for your trip. If you only have seven days, you might not want to spend two of those days in the air and another two getting adjusted to a new time zone. Instead, choose a location closer to home and spend your time where it matters!
At this point, you should have narrowed your scope of vacation possibilities. Now is time to look at your wishlist. Unless you are lone traveler, you will need to consider the wishlists of your travel buddies. Get together to discuss your options and agree on a general location.
After you have settled on a region begin researching specifics. If you are traveling internationally, confirm visa and passport regulations. Read reviews on Trip Advisor and Frommers to get the best up-to-the-minute information from people who just took your vacation. Join forums and ask questions. Decide with your travel buddies if you want to spend the entire vacation in one location or hotel, or if you prefer to stay in several places.
As you research you will begin to see areas or attractions that interest you. Narrow down your search. Email hotels and B&Bs. Email tour companies and ask for recommendations. Browse the guide books at your local bookstore until you find the perfect vacation. You might find a quaint village in the heart of the Boquete region of Panama, but love an unbelievably affordable hotel on Colon Island. You’ll have to decide if location or hotel is more important. Make those decisions. Then you are set.
We chose Belize as our honeymoon location because it met all of our criteria.
– Flights and hotels were within our budget
– It was a 2-hour direct flight from Houston (and in the same time zone)
– It was in a region (Central America) Peppe and I both wanted to visit, and it didn’t require additional visas or paperwork
I always say, “Planning the trip is half the fun!” So get out there and start planning. I can’t wait to hear where you go!