Probably the most important, and most challenging, decision you will make when planning for your vacation will be where you go. It can be an overwhelming task fraught with stress, loose papers, stacked web pages, and new worry lines…. But breaking that decision down into smaller, more manageable decisions makes the process easier and less overwhelming.
What kind of traveler are you?
Are you the adventurous type that is looking to climb a mountain, swim with sharks, or explore a glacier? Or are you the more reserved traveler that wants to visit museums, hang out at a resort, or sip Margaritas on the beach? This is a huge deciding factor of where to go! The more reserved traveler will probably not enjoy a hiking trip through Tibet and the adventurer will not be happy to sit around and relax. Your travel style can change depending on the vacation also. Sometimes we want an adventure and sometimes all I want to do is relax and listen to the waves.
It can be hard when you have different travel styles. My husband is happy to see almost everything from the comfort of a seat, while I would happily walk around and explore everything by foot. I would spend an entire day (maybe multiple days) seeing every square foot of the Louvre but he is only good for a couple hours. As with marriage, compromise sometimes plays a big part in your travel itinerary.
Who is traveling with you?
Is this a family adventure, a romantic getaway, or maybe a friends trip? These are very different vacations with very different goals. Who your travel companions are is a significant determining factor of where you go on vacation and will make certain places and activities more practical and enjoyable than others.
You will need to determine the best interests of your kids if taking your kids, and how you can maximize your time and balance that with family friendly fun. You could do a trip visiting historic sites or go with a Disney resort. It could heavily depend on the ages of your kids, young kids are going to have a lot different interests than teenagers.
You may want a party town or resort for a trip with friends. A trip to New Orleans during Mardi Gras would be great for a group of friends, not so good with young children.
Or maybe you want a romantic locale if you are traveling with your significant other. A couples or adult only resort could be on your list or maybe a beach resort or ski cabin.
Your interests and what you want from this vacation
What do you like to do and what are you interested in doing and seeing on your vacation? Are you a history buff that wants to see historic sites, an art lover that wants to see museums, a foodie that plans on eating your way through your vacation? Do you want to explore a big city or travel the countryside? Do you want to taste the local cuisine and spirits in small cafes and bars or experience world class cuisine and award winning wines? You can build a fantastic vacation around almost anything- locale, food, alcohol, festivals, sporting events, outdoor activities, art, music, history, etc, etc.
What do you want to bring back from our vacation? This could be souvenirs or memories. You could come back with the memory of ziplining through the jungle canopy or walking the centuries-old streets of a medieval village. Memories of tasting the local cuisine, meeting the locals, or the sound of the ocean outside your window. Or souvenirs you can place on display and tell stories about to family and friends.
Understanding what you want out of your vacation is probably the most important decision. The journey and the experience is what makes it a true vacation! You should not need a vacation from your vacation! It should be pure enjoyment and not a chore- do not chose something that is more work than the job you have to go back to when you get home!
Your budget and time
How much money do you have to spend on your vacation? Is money no object or do you need to stick to a set budget? Budget and expenses are a major factor when deciding where to go on vacation. You may be able to afford the first class airline tickets to a far-off, exotic location and have an unlimited budget BUT that is not most people. Make sure to be realistic with your expenses, and keep track of your money. It is very easy to overspend, especially in foreign countries with a different currency. Pre-booking attractions, train tickets, etc., can save you money.
How much time do you have to spend on vacation? Is this a vacation you have saved up vacation time to take several weeks or a quick weekend getaway? You really would not want to spend an entire day traveling each way if you only have a few days to take- maximize your time ON VACATION, not getting to your vacation. You also don’t want to cram so much into the time you have that your vacation causes you stress! Research in advance so you can give yourself time to do your most important activities and leave time for activities you may find while there.
Make your vacation worth your time and money no matter where you go!!
Keep a running list of places you want to go or see- places that peak your interest. Ideas can come from TV, movies, books, the internet, social media, travel sites, or places friends tell you about. Talk to your world traveling friends or follow your favorite travelers (ME!!).
Don’t just be envious and curse under your breath at those pictures they post- put that on your list! Make a plan of action- ask questions, comment, message- most travelers that post those awesome pictures are more than happy to share their experiences and advice- don’t be shy!! I love to share my experiences- it’s the reason I started this blog. When I would start researching a location, I would contact all my world traveling friends and ask them questions about everything!!! You know who you are!! So I am now returning that favor for all of you.
In all honesty, I research like crazy….. and have a massive to-do & see list!!This is what usually happens……. I narrow the list down to 2 or 3 choices then put that decision in my husbands court and let him decide (wink, wink) where we go!! Make sure to include your other travelers in that decision- they will enjoy it more that way 🙂
Wherever you go, have fun!!! Happy traveling!!!