Trip Planning 101 – Choosing a Destination

Something I hear people say a lot when discussing upcoming vacations is how stressful it is to plan a trip. Longer trips, especially those overseas can be overwhelming to those who don’t have any experience in being their own travel agent.  Obviously, it can also be very time consuming to plan out a one or two week overseas trip and with the pressures of everyday life some people just don’t have time. There are always travel agents or websites that will help you plan out an itinerary – and I’ve known plenty of people who have had wonderful experiences with pre-planned trips. However, I think that the more time and energy you put into planning the trip, the more you will get out of it.  I’ve also heard the argument that trips are more fun if they aren’t planned. This may be true for your style of travel -but that doesn’t mean that you can at least research your options so that your fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants decisions can be informed fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants decisions.
The first step in planning in trip is to pick your location. Sometimes this is out of your control (friends wedding, work trip, etc) but other times the world is your oyster. When choosing where you want to go there are several things you want to take into consideration:

  • Budget
  • Time of Year
  • Length of Vacation
  • Number of Travel Partners
  • Safety Concerns

It also helps if you keep a running list of places you want to visit. The list doesn’t have to be realistic… you can include places can’t afford or that you know are too dangerous right now. Once you outline your criteria for your upcoming trip you can cross reference it against your list and see what is feasible.

So lets say you are planning a trip for next spring with the following constraints:

Budget
$2,500
Time of Year
February
Length of Vacation
2 weeks
Number of Travel Partners
1-3
Safety Concerns
Traveling with others

Now lets cross reference that with my Bucket List. On the basis of budget alone we can rule out almost half the list:

1. Trans Siberian Railroad
2. Australia
3. India for Holi
4. Road trip down Route 66 (USA)
5. Cruise to Antarctica
6. Italy
7. Argentina and Chile
8. Galapagos Islands
9. Hike Mt. Kilimanjaro

10. Go on Safari in Africa
11. Ireland

Now lets take a look at our next criteria, time of year. Holi is in March so we can eliminate that choice. I don’t love the cold so I would probably not want to go anywhere in February where it would be freezing. Since I know its going to warm in the Southern hemisphere we can narrow it down to Australia or Argentina and Chile. Either of those would be fine in two weeks and they are both relatively safe (always check the state department website for any current warnings.)

Now that you have narrowed it down to two choices its time to do some research. Usually for me this means reading around trip advisor and checking out some travel books on these places. Start looking at what peaks your interest in each location – what activities seem fun, what sights are you dying to see, which language seems the most intriguing, which food have you been dying to try?

After you finish all your research, its time to pick your final destination and start looking for airline tickets.

Next Time: Booking Tickets and making an Itinerary!

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One Response to Trip Planning 101 – Choosing a Destination

  1. Spencer says:

    It is so difficult choosing your next travel destination. I tend to look at the travel shows and get an idea from there.

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