5 Things to Consider When Deciding Your Next Vacation Destination

by Sarah Strobel

The choice to take a vacation is often very easy, but this choice leads to a series of many other decisions. These decisions can be fun to make or stressful.

One decision is where to vacation. This can be challenging to decide because either it's not something you often think about, or there may be too many options on your list. Luckily, no matter the case, there are several things to consider to help your decision-making:

1) What type of vacation am I looking for?

What are some words that you think of when you hear “vacation?” You might think of the words “rest” or “adventure”, for example. If you look up the word “vacation”, it is defined as “a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday.” Vacation can mean different things to different people. How do you like to spend your time away?

Ultimately, some may be content lounging in a hotel and taking advantage of the amenities. However, this may not be a fulfilling vacation for everyone. Others might want to mix in some adventure for fun and new experiences. If you are looking for both, there are many destinations for a healthy balance of adventure and relaxation. This makes it easy for people with different needs to travel together.

It is crucial to spend vacation in a way that will re-energize you. What kind of experience do you need to refuel? You might find a new experience refuels you to keep working hard at your job. As you experience more, you will be re-energized to keep earning money to vacation.

Not everyone has an adventurous side. If new experiences stress you out, you may be most content with spending some time relaxing on a beach and working on your tan. Nothing wrong with that!

Finally, you might not always want to take the same type of vacation every time. You often will find what is going on in your life changes what you are looking for from a vacation.

2) Where have I always wanted to go?

If traveling is your favorite thing to do, you might have a bucket list of possible destinations. A list of many possibilities can be understandably difficult to prioritize. Similarly, if you don't spend much time thinking of where to go, the possibilities can seem infinite. The thought of having many vacation destination options can be just as stressful as none. You might not know where to begin.

Do you have a desire to stay local? Perhaps the thought of traveling to a different state will satisfy your zest for adventure. However, how does a vacation out of the country make you feel? It can be easy to forget about this option. Sometimes we forget that the world is so large and has many opportunities and things to see. You may find that this thought excites you. On the other hand, you may be scared. The thought of getting out of your comfort zone can be exciting--or it can seem overwhelming. Your feelings based on considering this option are a good guide to where you might want to vacation.

Where is somewhere that you have always wanted to go? If you are still stumped, go back to your childhood. Is there something you learned about in school that you have always wanted to see? For example, have you always wanted to see a polar bear? Does taking a picture by the Eiffel Tower interest you? Luckily, if after you spend some time thinking and you are still unsure there is still hope.

3) Where do my peers recommend?

Do you feel the need to get away but just stumped on where to go? If you are completely lost on where to vacation, there are resources all around you. Friends or family members can be great for recommending places. Their insight can be helpful whether they traveled there themselves or if they are your travel partner.

Travel buddies can also be helpful when you have a few destinations in mind. Their reaction can be the deciding factor on where you go. Alternatively, you might get excited about an option they suggest. Don’t forget to ask them what makes them excited at the thought of traveling there. What do they hope to see on vacation? That can make you change your mind on where to go.

Social media is a great tool for asking for advice. You can ask your question to many different people to get a variety of opinions. You can even find a way to ask your questions to strangers to see what they have to say. As a result, it can help with planning for your travels.

If you ask for recommendations and people have traveled there before, ask what they think you must see. Once you decide where you are going to go, don’t be afraid to ask for extra guidance. What should you see? What mistakes did they make on their venture that you should avoid? Family members and friends can also be helpful guides for knowing what to pack.

4) What are my personal limitations?

The idea of thinking in limitations isn’t the most optimistic way to plan your vacation. However, it is the most realistic way to think about it. This will help you to stay grounded in a time where excitement can easily take control. If you don’t have a lot of money, it can be difficult to think about what destination you should prioritize. Who knows when you will be able to take a vacation again?

One of the most stressful but often necessary parts of vacationing is planning. For example, let’s say you always wanted to visit Europe. It is likely you have a lot you would like to do while you are there. However, how long do you have to vacation? You may not have enough time to do all that you want. Therefore, you might want to tackle vacation to a smaller area.

This may be wise as you may not want to pack a lot into too short a period of time. If you pressure yourself to do too much, you could end up stressed during the planning process as well as during the vacation. It could make you feel that you don’t have time to sit back and enjoy yourself. While some people love to stay busy, others may be stressed feeling they are running around from activity to activity.

Similarly, you might also be limited by budget. There may be several places you want to travel, both in state and out of the country. In order to decide, first thing about planned expenses and how much money you can afford to spend. If you are considering several destinations, think about how much money you have for unplanned expenses and a little fun. You might find that you don’t currently have money for everything you’d like to do on a particular vacation. As a result, you may decide to save it for a later date. Remember to save money to get yourself a unique souvenir to remember your adventures, too!

5) Is it the right time to travel?

There are many factors that can keep it from being the right time to travel somewhere. Unfortunately, these aren't only personal factors. Often the biggest factor that can affect travel is the weather. It can seem riskier to travel to a different country with bad weather as opposed to another state. More importantly, severe weather can make it too dangerous to travel. In minor cases, bad weather can make you need to cancel the activities you had planned. It is important to check in regularly on the weather to plan accordingly.

You may want to ask questions to locals online since they know the area best. For example, you may be curious to know when is the busiest travel time. It may not be as enjoyable to visit when the area is extra crowded. Some may when this a surplus of extra people going to the same destination, it can be stressful. Additionally, there are other reasons why locals might recommend traveling at a different time. One reason may be is that there is a local event worth experiencing.

Once hearing about the event, you might decide you are not interested. However, consider that the event will attract a lot of people. Therefore, you might decide to travel to that destination at a different time when the location will be less crowded. Locals will also be able to offer more insight about what to see. Similarly, they can also be asked what can be passed up to maximize your time.

It is important to not let vacation planning become too stressful. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, think about what is making you look forward to taking a vacation. Once you start focusing on what you are looking forward to, the planning process will become easier.

Sarah Strobel is an independent marketing contractor in the Chicagoland area.

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