Choosing Your Travel Destination: A Beginner’s Guide

Quote: I haven't been everywhere but it's on my list.

I think most people have a bucket list of places they’d like to visit and this is usually the starting point when planning their next vacation. Budget is also a deciding factor when choosing where to go. And the last factor is time. The amount of time you have for your vacation and the time of year that you plan to travel. So let’s review these three factors when choosing your travel destination.

Bucket List Destinations:

For some people, this is Hawaii, Disneyland or even Alaska — the last frontier!  For me, I want to go everywhere! But I do have specific places that I want to visit that I have prioritized over other destinations.  

My husband also has places that he is more interested in seeing than others, and so we usually start going over these destinations together when trying to decide where we will go on vacation next.  We try to come up with our top 5 destinations that each of us would choose to go to next. So for example maybe it would be Thailand, Tahiti, Iceland, Alaska, Norway. Then we start looking at the other factors of budget and time.

piggy bank with change in itBudget:

As much as we’d all love to have bottomless budgets for which to plan our vacations, most of us do not, and I find that budget is one of the most significant factors for deciding where to go.

I plan for years where I go on smaller trips locally or in the U.S. and save up to go on “bigger” trips every few years.  There are places like Tahiti, which are on my bucket list that has been pushed down the list as I know that it will be one of the most expensive destinations on my list, so it is a destination that gets saved for a later time, perhaps for a special anniversary or milestone celebration.


My husband and I have wanted to visit Thailand for years, and from my research, I read that the best time to visit is November thru March, as the rest of the time is during their rainy and hot season.

So if we planned to take two weeks off in August, we probably choose to travel somewhere other than Thailand. As it’s unlikely we’d want to visit Thailand in the absolute hottest, rainiest and most humid time of the year.  Now if for some reason that was our only time to travel and that was “the” place we absolutely wanted to go, then we would go, and we would make the most of it.

So do your research and plan accordingly, and if you feel you “must” go to a place and you don’t want to wait for a better time of year, or maybe it’s just not possible for you to go any other time, I say go!  Just know what you’re going to be dealing with, pack accordingly and don’t forget to bring your adventurous attitude.

There are benefits to off-season travel, fewer crowds, and lower costs being the two biggest benefits. So it’s always worth considering that option.

scrabble blocks that read research

Length of Vacation:

If you only have seven days for your vacation, then you will probably not want to spend 40 hrs round trip flying to say, Thailand.  You will most likely want to spend less than 10 hours total in flight time, 20 hours would probably be the max most people would spend with that short period of time.  

The traveling portion of a journey takes up usually two days of the trip, one day getting to your destination and one day returning home. So if you had seven days total and you are flying somewhere, then you only have 5 full days in that destination.

Typically if I will have 20+ hours round trip of flight time I prefer to have at least ten days at my destination.

Consider all the things you want to see and do and whether or not you will have enough time to really make it worth the trip.

A couple of other things to consider:

You will want to factor in whether or not you’ll need a visa or passport to travel to your intended destination, and if so, determine how long it will take you to get the necessary documents. If you are making last minute travel plans, this may play a big role when choosing your travel destination.

The more time you have to plan, the better you will be able to research what to do and the best deals.  Some destinations require more research and planning than others.

Some Final Thoughts on Choosing Your Travel Destination

It is essential to know who you are.

If you know you’re the type of person who hates the heat and only wants to go outside when it’s fair weather, then be honest with yourself and your traveling partner(s) and plan to avoid traveling in conditions where you are likely to only huddle inside your hotel room.

You can never plan for “everything.”

You can plan and prepare extensively, but life has a way of throwing us curve balls and sometimes things don’t go as we want them to, so you have to roll with the punches when this happens and choose to have a good time no matter what.  Remind yourself: “I could be sitting in a cubicle right now.” “I could be cleaning my bathroom” “I could be ____” You fill in the blank, but rarely are things so bad on a trip that you can’t find the positive and still enjoy your adventure.

Always keeping in mind that things can change unexpedtedly and happiness is a choice no matter where we are.

Hopefully, this helps you think through your options when choosing a travel destination. For more on how to start planning a trip, check out Trip Planning 101.

Or check out this article on Booking Your Flight.

Happy Planning!

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