How to Pick Your Perfect Destination for Your Next Vacation

Vacations are fun, but it can be very difficult to choose the best place, for there are countless options. There are, however, ways to narrow down your choices. Consider the following questions:

Are you traveling with someone?

If the answer is yes, you are going to need to consider their needs and interests. If you’re traveling with somebody who loves art museums, you should consider a place with at least one good art museum. You also need to consider a traveling companion’s physical limitations, if they have them. People with food allergies will have to be careful about which restaurants they visit. A strenuous backpacking trip is probably not the best choice for a small child or a senior citizen.

How much vacation time do you have?

The more time you have, the farther afield you can go. Consider that a direct flight from Baltimore to Hawaii takes a little over 10 hours, and an indirect flight will be take even longer. A trip that long involves crossing lots of time zones, and you will probably need a day to recover from the resulting jet lag. Given that, you shouldn’t go to Hawaii unless you have at least a few weeks to spend there.

Similarly, if you do have time constraints, you should concentrate on a specific region or city rather than try to see a whole country in a week. Attempting the latter can become both exhausting and frustrating.

How much can you afford to spend?

Answering this question will help you decide where you can go, how you can get there, and what you can do. You will need to consider what you can afford in the way of accommodations, meals, activities, and souvenirs.

Obviously, some destinations are more expensive than others. European capitals, for example, tend to be extremely expensive, while other towns or cities can be better bargains. If it turns out that Paris is out of reach this year, you may want to check if there are other places in France that have what you want for what you can afford.

What do you want to do?

This is a fun but important question: What activities are you really interested in? Do you want to go the beach, or do you want to go skiing? Do you like art museums, zoos or theme parks? Many destinations are famous for their attractions; for example, San Diego is known for its world-class zoo.

There are different ways to approach this. One is to simply make a list of activities and attractions you really want to enjoy and research possible destinations to determine the one that offers the most attractions and activities you want. On the other hand, if you’ve already decided you want to visit the San Diego Zoo, you should research San Diego to learn what else it offers. Don’t over-plan, though; leave room for both rest and spontaneity. San Diego could have a delightful surprise or three you didn’t even consider while researching.

How will you get there?

When researching a destination, you should also consider the possible methods of transportation. Will you take a plane, train, drive or go on a cruise? The various methods all have their pros and cons, and some are more expensive than others. Railways, cruise ships and airports all have rules and regulations, and airports have become notorious for the fees they impose for services like checking luggage or bringing along a pet.

Road trips combine travel with sight-seeing, and they can be fun or disastrous. Properly planning one will involve investigating the attractions and accommodations along the chosen route, and you will have to include time for people to take potty breaks or stretch their legs. You may also want to invest in a roof box to increase the amount of space for your fellow-travelers.

Where will you stay?

Do you want to splurge on five-star hotels, or would you prefer something plainer and less expensive? Some people treat a hotel as a “base camp” from which they sally forth on the day’s adventures. Such travelers tend to see the hotel as simply a place to sleep at night and only want a comfortable bed and working shower. Other people want to be pampered during their vacations. Many hotels also have rules regarding pets and children, and some cater to specific groups like couples or young people. Research the various accommodations to determine which ones are the best fit.