How to decide on your next travel destination

How to Decide on Your Next Travel Destination

Travel inspiration can come from many places, whether it’s a photo shared on social media or dreamy scenes from a movie. There are also times when you decide you need a break from work and life, and you’re open to exploring a new place, asking yourself, “Where should I travel to next?”

Maybe you’re planning to travel alone, or you’ve got a few friends on board. But before you choose your next travel destination, you will need to find out the reason behind your trip, what you want to get out of it, and consider some practicalities.

Choosing where to visit is a fun part of the travel planning process before getting into the details of booking and logistics. Below are 6 steps to help you choose your next travel destination. I hope they empower you to go somewhere you’ve never been before!

1. Calculate your budget

One of the most important factors when deciding where to travel is your budget. Think about it on a line-by-line level, from the price per night of accommodations to the average cost of going out to eat. You might find an adventure-centric destination in South America is a better fit for your price point than a weeklong trip to a metropolis like New York City. 

What to consider in your travel budget:

  • Accommodations: You will need to find how much lodging is per night without sacrificing your comfort. Don’t book a 10-person hostel room to save money if that’s not the experience you want! If budget is a concern, it’s better to find an all-around cheaper destination to visit. 
  • Transportation: Depending on the place, you might be able to get around on foot or using public transportation. If you need to rent a car, that will be a major expense to plan for in your budget. 
  • Things to do: When researching a destination, are most activities that you’re interested in low-cost, outdoor activities? Or do the activities revolve around fine dining foodie experiences and pricey guided tours?
  • Splitting costs: If you’re traveling alone, all of the expenses fall on you. If you’re interested in a hotel that’s $200 a night, that’s great, but there’s no one you can split that with if you’re traveling solo. In contrast, a $200/night hotel room is a good deal for a group of four people splitting it.

2. Manage your time

If you have a weekend to get away, traveling 6+ hours to and from a destination will take up nearly a third of your vacation time. To avoid a time crunch, you can find a closer destination to visit, whether it’s a short drive or flight away. 

With 10+ days to travel, your options open up to more overseas destinations. A trip between Europe and the U.S. is reasonable in 10 days, but I wouldn’t recommend any less time than that (remember: jet lag can hit hard those first few days!)

Train arrives at the airport stop in Denver. Drops passengers at next travel destination

3. Get clear on your reason for travel

Knowing the why behind your trip will help you choose the type of place that matches your goals, whether you’re looking for a relaxing, tropical vacation, an adventurous mountain town, or a cosmopolitan city experience. The same goes for who you plan to take this trip with or if you plan to go alone. 

Some reasons behind your trip might be:

  • Traveling alone to disconnect and de-stress.
  • A getaway with a group of friends.
  • Immersing in another language and culture.
  • A romantic couple’s trip.
  • Knowing who you’re going with and why you’re making the trip will help you choose where to visit. 

4. Assess your weather tolerance

Being from Texas, I don’t do well in the cold, and a trip to Berlin in January traumatized me because of the frigid temperatures. If you’re anything like me, northern Europe is a no-go in the dead of winter. But maybe you’re from Minnesota or Canada and those conditions don’t bother you as much. That’s why the season and weather conditions in a potential travel destination should be a consideration in choosing your next place to visit. 

Once you have a few destinations in mind, do some research to see what the weather is like during the time of year you plan to visit. The last thing you want is to be on vacation bunkered down in your hotel room avoiding the outdoors, so choose wisely based on your weather tolerance. 

5. Check health and safety

Each country’s government travel websites post information about safety advisories around the world, giving you peace of mind when choosing your next vacation destination. Travel advisories not only indicate local safety, but they also recommend and/or require vaccines to enter each place. 

The United States travel advisories page gives each country a 1-5 safety level, 1 being very safe and 5 labeled as “Do not travel”. These notifications can help narrow down your list of places to visit as you’re researching. 

The sun sets over the coast of Malibu.

6. Narrow down destinations

Once you’ve got clarity on the above factors, you’re ready to start making a list of places you want to visit. Below are some of the best ways to find a travel destination that fits your goals:

  • Follow travel publications’ Instagram pages and save posts with descriptions or photos you like. Conde Nast Traveller and Afar Media are a great starting point for inspiration!
  • Ask friends and family for recommendations.
  • Search on Pinterest and Google with specific keywords like “affordable destinations 2022” or “family-friendly vacation spots in Texas”.
  • Search for book and movie recommendations based on a city or country you’re interested in visiting.
  • Use Skyscanner’s search everywhere feature to find every flight deal departing from your local airport.
  • Read and bookmark posts from your favorite travel bloggers.

It’s a privilege to travel and experience different parts of the world, whether it’s near home or thousands of miles away. I hope these suggestions on how to decide on your next travel destination inspire you to explore somewhere new that fits your reason for travel. 

What trip did you go on recently that you would recommend to other travelers? If you’re brainstorming, check out my Maui itinerary post.

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