For most people, the last two years have been stressful. Not only did the COVID-19 pandemic cause millions to lose their jobs, but it forced people to stay home. Now the world is getting back to normal, and people are feeling more comfortable leaving their homes to travel on a vacation.
Are you hoping to go on a long-deferred vacation? You may find that one of the hardest parts about traveling is figuring out where to go. In this article, we share seven tips that will help you pick the perfect location. From figuring out when you should go to how to find deals, here’s everything you should ponder when planning your next vacation.
1. Consider Your Vacation Availability
The first thing you should do is determine how long you can go on vacation.
If you only have a couple of days, you clearly won’t have enough time to travel across Europe. On the other hand, driving two hours for an overnight stay near a local attraction would be an easy getaway.
Knowing how crowded somewhere will be is important to prepare for when looking at your availability. Look at all national training and federal holidays and try to avoid major weekends where places will have limited availability.
2. Determine Your Interests
Your interests will also help you narrow down your destination. Make a list of things you want to do while on vacation.
Maybe you want to try snowboarding. Or maybe you want to be near a lake for paddle boarding. Perhaps you hope to start your own travel blog.
Identifying your desired activities will also help you pick dates for your vacation. After all, if you want to go snowboarding, you probably won’t vacation during the summer months…unless you choose another hemisphere.
You should also look at a destination’s peak season. Some locations are busier than others during specific times of the year. Not only can this increase the trip’s cost, but it can also add stress due to the volume of people.
3. Decide on a Vacation Budget
Your budget is one of the most important things you should consider when planning a vacation. While vacations are supposed to be fun, you don’t want to end up in debt afterward. To keep that from happening, sit down and determine how much you can spend.
Regardless of where you’re traveling, your biggest expense categories will most likely be lodging, food, transportation, and entertainment. Based on your income, figure out how much money you can allocate to each expense. Make sure you set a daily budget, or per diem, for miscellaneous purchases.
Budgeting first makes it less likely you’ll exceed your financial limits. It also helps narrow down where you can travel to, making it easier to make a decision and establish your travel priorities.
4. Factor In the Climate
Do you prefer vacationing in warm locales or somewhere cold? Do you want to see the ocean or be surrounded by mountains? Figuring out the kind of weather and scenery you prefer will help you pick a location, as well as when to travel.
For example, let’s say you’ve always longed to travel to Arizona. If you don’t want to go when it’s hottest, you definitely shouldn’t travel there in the summer. Instead, you might look at other western states with cooler climates like California or Colorado. Or you can wait for fall or winter, when Arizona weather is delightful.
Knowing your ideal vacation environment can help you figure out where and when to travel.
5. Know Who’s Going
Before planning a trip, you should determine whom you’ll be traveling with. Is this a family vacation? A trip with your friends? A solo outing? Knowing who’s coming will help you decide where and how you travel.
When traveling with multiple people, not everyone has the same schedule or interests. For instance, if you’re traveling with kids, you’ll probably have to go during the summer when they’re out of school. If you’re traveling alone, on the other hand, your schedule can be more flexible.
Traveling with others means you’ll have to make different considerations for accommodations and activities. While adding travel companions increases overall costs, it also allows the possibility of cost-sharing. That’s why it’s important to figure out an accurate headcount and how it affects your budget sooner rather than later.
6. Do Your Research
Before deciding on a vacation spot, make sure you do your research. While Google is a great source for finding all kinds of information, be smart about how you research. After all, you’re using this information to help you decide where to travel. You’ll need to ask the right questions.
While you are comparing and contrasting possible destinations, consider which might be safest for tourists. With your budget in mind, you should research the average hotel cost, the best places to eat, public transportation options, etc. This info will help you narrow down your list and better plan your trip itinerary.
You should also ask around with your friends and family. It’s possible either they or someone they know has traveled to your destination. They can give you specific travel advice and help you catch can’t-miss experiences.
7. Check the Vacation Deals
If you don’t have a specific location in mind, consider going where the deals are. Airlines, hotels, and third-party sources like Groupon are constantly running vacation specials. While these promotions vary, there’s a good chance you could find one that suits your vacation preferences.
You should also think about signing up for loyalty programs with hotels and airlines. This way, you’ll receive emails whenever they’re running a deal. If you have an airline credit card, make sure to book your flight with it so you receive benefits. Some banks even offer deals for their consumers flying certain airlines.
It’s important to be mindful of your travel timing. As mentioned earlier, some places are more expensive than others during certain seasons. There’s a good chance you could save a ton of money simply by traveling during the off-season.
Choosing a travel destination doesn’t have to be stressful. Using the tips above, you can plan a trip you and your travel companions are bound to enjoy.