How To Decide Where To Go On Vacation Next

Round eyeglasses left on some world maps

With a world full of incredible places to explore, the question how to find the best vacation spot is a crucial starting point, but choosing your next travel destination can be overwhelming as it is exciting. Whether you’re dreaming of a tropical beach, a bustling city, or a serene mountain retreat, finding the perfect spot for your next vacation destination requires careful consideration and planning.

This guide aims to help you how to choose a vacation destination that matches your interests, budget, and timeframe. I’ll walk you through the essential steps of this process, from assessing your preferences and setting a budget to researching potential places and considering practical aspects like travel time and accommodation options. By the end of this article, you’ll have a clearer idea of how to decide where to go on vacation and be well on your way to planning an unforgettable trip.

Assess Your Preferences and Interests

When considering where to travel next, it’s essential to start with an honest assessment of your preferences and interests. This initial step will help narrow down your options and ensure that your next travel destination aligns with what you enjoy and expect from a vacation.

Determine Your Vacation Goals

Begin by identifying the primary goal of your vacation. But to answer that, you first need to know what are the most popular types of vacations. There can be many kinds, but four types emerge more frequently: relaxation, adventure, cultural experience and family fun.

Now ask yourself what you hope to achieve during this time away. Are you looking for a tranquil environment where you can unwind and have a break from the stress of everyday life? In this case, destinations known for their serene landscapes, such as beaches or countryside retreats, might be ideal. If you’re seeking excitement and thrill, look for destinations that offer activities like hiking, skiing, scuba diving, or wildlife safaris. Are you in the mood to experience the cultural side of a destination? Choose places with historical sites, museums, good food or simply a destination with a culture very different from what you’re familiar with. If traveling with family, especially children, you might prioritize destinations with family-friendly attractions like theme parks, zoos, and interactive museums.

Consider Hobbies and Interests

Your hobbies and interests go hand in hand with your vacation goals. You need to reflect on activities you enjoy and look for destinations that cater to these interests. Are you a nature enthusiast? Look for national parks, mountain ranges, and coastal areas that offer opportunities for hiking, camping, bird watching, and water sports. Countries like Iceland, Switzerland or New Zealand are perfect for these activities. History buff? Consider destinations with rich historical backgrounds, landmarks and ancient ruins. How about Egypt, Greece or Italy? Do you love food so much that you want to try the world’s different cuisines? Then countries like Italy, Greece, Japan or India might make it on the shortlist. Places known for food festivals or unique dining experiences are also good ideas. If you’re looking for art and music or other types of entertainment, vibrant places with art galleries, music festivals and cultural performances can provide a fulfilling experience. Barcelona or Paris are the first cities that come into mind for art. When it comes to music, Romania has a lot of good music festivals with top-tier headliners and of course, the US has some of the best music festivals in the world.

Read more: The ultimate guide to Electric Castle festival in Romania.

Girl standing in between the huge letters E and C that stand for Electric Castle festival

Assess Travel Companions’ Preferences

If you’re traveling with others, it’s crucial to consider their preferences as well. If travelling with family, ensure the destination has activities suitable for all age groups and interests. A trip with friends might require a variety of activities, but usually, it all revolves around fun stuff to do, like experiencing the nightlife, eating good food, going to concerts and so on. Traveling with your significant other can mean you are more inclined to choose a romantic destination like Paris, but at the end of the day, it all depends on the type of vacation you want. Last, but not least, if traveling alone, think about safety, ease of navigation, and opportunities to meet other travelers.

By carefully evaluating these aspects, you can significantly narrow down your choices and make an informed decision on how to pick a vacation destination. Understanding what you and your companions want from the trip will make it easier to identify where you want to travel next and ensure a memorable experience for everyone involved.

Set a Budget

Setting a budget is a critical step in determining a new vacation spot. Your budget will significantly influence where you can go, how long you can stay, and what activities you can afford. Here’s how to effectively set and manage your travel budget.

Importance of Budget in Decision-Making

A well-planned budget helps prevent overspending and ensures you can enjoy your trip without financial stress. Knowing your budget upfront allows you to focus on destinations that fit within your financial means and avoid the disappointment of discovering a dream trip is too costly after you’ve set your heart on it.

To get a realistic idea of how much your trip will cost, consider the following expenses:

Transportation: Include the cost of flights, train tickets, car rentals, gas, and local transportation like buses, taxis, and ride-sharing services.

Accommodation: Research the average cost of hotels, hostels, vacation rentals, or any other lodging options in your chosen destination.

Food and Drink: Estimate daily food expenses, considering dining preferences from budget-friendly street food to upscale restaurants.

Activities and Entertainment: Factor in the cost of entry fees to attractions, guided tours, excursions, and any special activities you plan to do.

Travel Insurance: Don’t forget to include the cost of travel insurance, which can protect you from unexpected expenses due to trip cancellations, health issues, or other emergencies.

Miscellaneous Expenses: Account for shopping, souvenirs, tips, and any other unexpected costs. I feel this is a good opportunity to remind you to the mindful when buying stuff while you travel. Many things can appear appealing at first sight, but you might not really need them.

Read more: How to reduce plastic pollution risk while you travel.

Finding Destinations that Match Your Budget

Once you have a rough estimate of your travel expenses, you can start searching for destinations that align with your budget:

Destination Research: Look for travel guides, blogs, and websites that offer budget-friendly travel tips and cost breakdowns for different destinations.

Read more: How much to budget for a trip to Luxembourg City?

Off-Peak Travel: Traveling during shoulder season can significantly reduce costs for flights and accommodations. Research the best times to visit potential destinations when prices are lower.

Travel Deals and Discounts: Keep an eye out for travel deals, discounts, and package offers that can help you save money. Websites like Groupon, Travelzoo, and airline newsletters often feature special promotions.

Budget-Friendly Destinations: Consider destinations known for being budget-friendly. Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, and parts of South and Central America often offer great value for travelers.

Read more: Most affordable capitals in Europe that can be your next travel destination.

By setting a realistic budget and sticking to it, you’ll be better prepared to make informed decisions about how to decide where to travel next. This will help ensure that your next travel destination is not only enjoyable but also financially manageable. Once your budget is set, you’ll have a clearer picture of how to pick a vacation destination that offers the best experience within your financial limits.

Research Potential Destinations

Once you’ve assessed your preferences and set a budget, the next step in how to decide where to travel is conducting thorough research on potential destinations. This process will help you gather essential information and narrow down your options for your next travel destination.

Use Travel Guides, Blogs, and Websites

The internet is a treasure trove of travel information. Utilize a variety of resources to get a comprehensive view of potential destinations:

Travel Guides: Books and online guides like Lonely Planet provide detailed information on destinations, including top attractions, accommodations, and local tips.

Travel Blogs: Bloggers often share personal experiences, practical advice, and hidden gems. They can offer insights into lesser-known destinations and tips on how to travel on a budget. Browse this blog as well for some good-quality travel inspiration.

Travel Websites: Websites like TripAdvisor, Expedia, and Google Travel offer reviews, recommendations, and travel planning tools to help you find a vacation destination that suits your interests and budget.

Social media: TikTok and Instagram are my primary sources of inspiration, but almost any social media platform will do, whether it’s X, Facebook or Pinterest. In fact, in my marketing doctorate program, I’m researching how augmented reality technologies (including social media AR filters) can influence the decision-making process of visiting a destination.

Flight aggregators: If I’m planning on flying somewhere and not taking a car or train, this is my biggest secret for looking up where my money can take me. You need to find a flight aggregator, but not just any. The catch is to choose one that lets you select “Anywhere” as your destination. Momondo is one of them (see image below), but you can use another if you have a favorite. After you click Search, you can see the best deals for your dates and you can make a list of destinations, according to your interests and budget.

Consider Seasonality and Weather Conditions

The timing of your trip can greatly impact your experience. Here’s what to consider:

Seasonality: Traveling during peak seasons can mean higher prices and larger crowds. Research the high and low seasons for your potential destinations to decide if you prefer bustling energy or a quieter, more affordable experience. The best example I can give you to support the low-season option is my trip to Jordan, more specifically Petra. Because I went in June, the crowds were way lower than they are in winter, when the comfortable weather draws people like a magnet and the trails of Petra are awfully overcrowded. I had plenty of room for pictures (see image below), I could explore the place at my own pace and I could interact with the Beduins as much as I wanted. The downside was that it was a little hot, but it was nothing I couldn’t manage with drinking enough water. The bottom line is that the right season to visit a place can really make or break an experience, so choose wisely.

Me in front of Ed-Deir (The Monastery) in Petra

Read more: The best time to visit Greece.

Weather Conditions: Ensure the climate of your chosen destination matches your preferences. For example, if you’re planning a beach vacation, you’ll want to avoid the rainy season. I know a couple who went on their honeymoon in a tropical country in the wet season and they ended up staying inside their hotel room every single day because it was raining so much. In this case, the newlyweds probably didn’t mind as much that they had to stay in bed, but it’s still a shame they spent so much money on flights and they couldn’t enjoy the sun and stunning beaches.

Check Travel Advisories and Safety Information

Safety should always be a priority when deciding where you want to travel to. Here’s how to stay informed:

Travel Advisories: Check government websites (e.g. the U.S. State Department or the UK Foreign Office) for travel advisories and warnings about potential risks in your destination.

Local Safety: Research the crime rates and safety concerns in the areas you plan to visit. Look for tips from fellow travelers and locals on how to stay safe.

Read more:
ℹ️ How safe is Hungary for tourists?
ℹ️ How safe is Belgium for tourists?
ℹ️ How safe is Thessaloniki for tourists?

Explore Local Culture and Customs

Understanding the local culture and customs can enhance your travel experience.

Learn about the social norms, traditions, and etiquette of your potential destinations. Respecting local customs can lead to a more enriching and enjoyable trip. Learning some interesting facts about the destination can also uncover useful information.

Read more:
ℹ️ Fascinating facts about Romania every tourist should know.
ℹ️ Interesting facts about Austria that you might not know.
ℹ️ Fascinating facts that you might not know about Bulgaria.
ℹ️ Interesting facts about Berlin you probably didn’t know.
ℹ️ Facts everyone should know about Vatican City.
ℹ️ Surprising facts you didn’t know about Warsaw.

Language: Consider whether you speak the local language or if there will be a language barrier. Knowing a few key phrases or using translation apps can be helpful.

Read more:
ℹ️ How to overcome the language barrier as a tourist.
ℹ️ Best apps for tourists to learn a new language.

Investigate Accessibility and Convenience

Practical aspects of travel can influence your decision on how to pick a vacation destination:

Transportation: Look into the ease of getting to and around your destination. Consider flight availability, public transportation options, and the overall convenience of navigating the area.

Infrastructure: Ensure the destination has the necessary infrastructure to meet your needs, such as reliable internet, medical facilities, and accessible amenities if you have specific requirements.

By thoroughly researching potential destinations, you’ll be well-equipped to make an informed decision on how to choose where to travel. This comprehensive understanding will help you find a destination that aligns with your interests, fits your budget, and ensures a safe and enjoyable trip.

Consider Travel Time and Distance

When deciding how to choose a vacation destination, travel time and distance are crucial factors that can significantly impact your overall experience. Balancing the length of your journey with the duration of your stay and the activities you plan to enjoy is essential for maximizing your vacation.

Evaluating How Much Time You Have for the Vacation

Your available time for travel plays a significant role in determining your next travel destination:

Short Trips: If you only have a few days, consider destinations that are closer to home or have direct flights to minimize travel time. Weekend getaways and short breaks are ideal for nearby cities or regions.

Extended Vacations: For longer vacations, you can explore farther destinations and even multiple locations. More extended trips provide the flexibility to travel internationally or to more remote areas without feeling rushed.

Importance of Travel Time and Convenience

Long travel times can be exhausting and may reduce the time you have to enjoy your destination. Here’s how to factor in travel time when deciding how to pick a vacation destination:

Flight Duration: Research flight durations to your potential destinations. Non-stop flights are often more convenient and less tiring than those with multiple layovers.

Layovers and Transfers: Consider the length and number of layovers if direct flights are unavailable. Longer layovers can add significant time to your journey.

Ground Transportation: After arriving at your destination, factor in the time it takes to reach your accommodation. Destinations with efficient public transportation or close proximity to airports can save you valuable time.

Impact of Jet Lag and Time Zone Differences

Jet lag and time zone differences can affect your energy levels and the enjoyment of your vacation. Here’s how to manage these challenges:

Jet Lag: Traveling across multiple time zones can cause jet lag, impacting your sleep and energy levels. Consider this when planning your trip, especially if your vacation is short.

Time Zone Adjustment: Allow for a day or two to adjust to the new time zone. For longer vacations, this is less of an issue, but for shorter trips, you’ll want to minimize time zone changes.

Consider Alternative Modes of Transportation

Depending on your destination, alternative transportation methods may be more efficient or enjoyable:

Trains and Buses: For regional travel, trains and buses can offer scenic routes and a relaxed travel experience. They can also be more cost-effective.

Driving: Road trips provide flexibility and the opportunity to explore multiple destinations. Consider renting a car if you enjoy the freedom of driving.

Cruises: Cruises can be a unique way to travel, allowing you to visit multiple destinations with the convenience of moving from one destination to another while you sleep.

By carefully considering travel time and distance, you can ensure that your next vacation destination is both practical and enjoyable. Balancing these factors with your available vacation time and the experiences you seek will help you make an informed decision on how to choose where to travel next. This thoughtful approach ensures that you maximize your time at the destination and minimize travel-related stress.

Evaluate Accommodation Options

Choosing the right accommodation is a vital part of how to pick a vacation destination and can significantly impact your overall travel experience. The type, location, and quality of your lodging can enhance your trip, making it more comfortable and enjoyable.

Types of Accommodations

Understanding the different types of accommodations available will help you decide how to choose a vacation destination that fits your preferences and budget:

Hotels: Offer a range of amenities such as room service, fitness centers, pools, and concierge services. Ideal for travelers seeking convenience and comfort.

Hostels: Budget-friendly options, often with shared facilities and a social atmosphere. Great for solo travelers, backpackers, and those looking to meet new people.

Vacation Rentals: Platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo provide a variety of rental properties, from apartments to entire homes. Suitable for families, groups, or those wanting a more homely experience.

Bed and Breakfasts: Offer a cozy, personalized experience with breakfast included. Perfect for travelers looking for a quaint and intimate setting.

Camping and Glamping: Options range from traditional campsites to luxurious tents (glamping). Ideal for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers.

Boutique Hotels: Smaller, stylish hotels often with unique themes and personalized service. Good for travelers looking for a distinctive and upscale experience.

Importance of Location and Amenities

The location of your accommodation can greatly influence your travel experience. Consider the following when evaluating your vacation destination:

Proximity to Attractions: Staying near major attractions can save time and transportation costs. Research the distance to key sights and activities.

Neighborhood Safety: Ensure the area is safe, especially if traveling with family or alone. Read reviews and check safety ratings.

Public Transportation: Accessibility to public transit can make exploring the destination easier and more affordable.

Amenities: Identify must-have amenities such as Wi-Fi, breakfast, parking, or a pool. Consider your specific needs, such as kitchen facilities for longer stays.

Reading Reviews and Ratings

Online reviews and ratings provide valuable insights into the quality and service of accommodations:

User Reviews: Platforms like TripAdvisor,, and Google Reviews offer firsthand accounts from previous guests. Look for recent reviews to get the most up-to-date information.

Ratings: Pay attention to overall ratings but read detailed reviews to understand the reasons behind high or low scores. Consider common themes in feedback, such as cleanliness, service, and location.

Photos: User-uploaded photos can provide a realistic view of the property, beyond professional marketing images.

Considering Special Requirements

If you have specific needs or preferences, ensure your accommodation can accommodate them:

Accessibility: Check for wheelchair accessibility, elevators, and other facilities for guests with disabilities.

Pet-Friendly Options: If traveling with pets, look for accommodations that welcome animals and offer pet amenities.

Family-Friendly: For family vacations, consider properties with family rooms, childcare services, or activities for children.

Balancing Cost and Comfort

Finding a balance between cost and comfort is crucial in determining how to decide where to travel next:

Budget Options: Hostels, budget hotels, and vacation rentals can offer affordable accommodations without sacrificing comfort.

Mid-Range Choices: Standard hotels and boutique accommodations provide a mix of comfort and affordability.

Luxury Stays: High-end hotels and resorts offer premium services and amenities for travelers willing to splurge.

By carefully evaluating accommodation options, you can ensure that your lodging aligns with your travel needs and budget, enhancing your overall trip. This thoughtful approach helps you make an informed decision on how to choose where to travel and ensures that your next travel destination offers a comfortable and enjoyable stay.

Explore Activities and Attractions

Identifying the activities and attractions available at your potential destination is crucial when deciding how to choose a vacation destination. The right mix of things to see and do can transform your trip from good to unforgettable. Here’s how to ensure your next travel destination offers plenty of excitement and enjoyment.

Identifying Must-See Sights and Must-Do Activities

Start by researching the most popular attractions and activities in your chosen destination:

Historical and Cultural Sites: Look for landmarks, museums, and cultural centers that highlight the history and heritage of the area.

Natural Wonders: Research national parks, beaches, mountains, and other natural attractions that offer scenic beauty and outdoor activities.

Entertainment and Nightlife: Identify areas known for their nightlife, theaters, concerts, and live performances.

Shopping and Markets: Explore local markets, shopping districts, and unique stores for souvenirs and local products.

Availability of Tours and Excursions

Organized tours and excursions can enhance your experience by providing expert guidance and access to exclusive areas:

Guided Tours: Consider walking tours, bus tours, or specialty tours (e.g., food tours, historical tours) led by knowledgeable guides.

Adventure Excursions: Look for adventure activities such as hiking, diving, zip-lining, or safaris. These often require pre-booking and can offer unique experiences.

Day Trips: Research nearby attractions that can be visited on a day trip, providing a change of scenery and additional activities.

Read more:
ℹ️ 10 destinations that you can visit as day trips from Zadar.

ℹ️ Potsdam: Probably the best day trip from Berlin.

ℹ️ Day trip to the Seven Ladders Canyon.

Special Events or Festivals During Your Travel Dates

Attending local events and festivals can provide a deeper connection to the culture and enhance your trip:

Local Festivals: Check if there are any festivals, parades, or cultural events happening during your stay. These can offer unique experiences and entertainment.

Seasonal Events: Some destinations have seasonal events like harvest festivals, holiday markets, or summer concerts. Plan your visit to coincide with these activities.

Sporting Events: If you’re a sports fan, look for local games, matches, or tournaments you can attend.

Gathering Local Insights

Local recommendations can lead you to hidden gems and authentic experiences:

Ask Locals: When you arrive, ask locals for their favorite spots and tips. They can provide valuable insights beyond typical tourist attractions.

Online Forums and Communities: Join travel forums, social media groups, or platforms like Reddit where you can ask for advice and recommendations from seasoned travelers and locals.

By exploring the activities and attractions available at your potential destination, you can ensure that your next vacation destination offers a rich and varied experience. This thorough planning will help you make an informed decision on how to choose where to travel next, ensuring your trip is filled with memorable moments and exciting adventures.

Health Considerations

Maintaining good health during your trip is paramount. Here’s what to consider:

Vaccinations and Health Precautions: Research required and recommended vaccinations for your destination. Some countries may require proof of vaccination for entry. Additionally, be aware of health precautions related to food, water, and local diseases.

Travel Health Insurance: Investing in comprehensive travel health insurance is crucial. Ensure it covers medical emergencies, hospital visits, and repatriation if necessary. Check if your existing insurance offers any coverage abroad.

Local Healthcare Facilities: Familiarize yourself with the healthcare infrastructure of your destination. Know the location of nearby hospitals or clinics, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions.

Having access to medical care is crucial, especially in emergencies. Here’s what to consider:

Nearby Hospitals and Clinics: Identify the closest medical facilities to your accommodation. Ensure they are equipped to handle emergencies and provide quality care.

Pharmacies: Locate nearby pharmacies and check their operating hours. It’s also useful to know if they carry over-the-counter medications that you might need.

Prescription Medications: If you take prescription medications, bring enough for the duration of your trip, plus a few extra days in case of delays. Carry a copy of your prescriptions and a note from your doctor, especially for controlled substances.

Make a Decision

After evaluating your preferences, budget, research, travel time, accommodations, activities, and health and safety considerations, you’re ready to decide on your next travel destination. Here are the final steps:

  1. Compare Your Options: Review the destinations that meet your criteria. Consider which destination offers the best overall experience according to your priorities.
  2. Discuss with Travel Companions: If you’re traveling with others, ensure everyone is on board with the choice. A destination that satisfies all parties will make for a more enjoyable trip.
  3. Trust Your Instincts: Sometimes, your gut feeling can be a helpful guide. Choose the place that excites you the most and aligns with your desires and needs.
  4. Make Reservations: Once you’ve decided, book your flights, accommodations, and any must-do activities in advance to secure the best options and rates.

By following these steps, you can confidently decide where you want to travel to next and start planning an unforgettable vacation.

Plan and Prepare

With your destination chosen, it’s time to plan and prepare for your trip to ensure everything goes smoothly:

Create an Itinerary: Outline the main activities and attractions you want to visit. Allocate time for relaxation and spontaneous exploration. If you plan on visiting multiple cities or even multiple countries, an itinerary is even more helpful for time and activity management.

Read more:
ℹ️ Sweden itinerary: 10 days travel guide.
ℹ️ Explore the best of Stockholm in a packed 3-day itinerary.
ℹ️ The perfect 3-day itinerary in Gothenburg, Sweden.
ℹ️ The best itinerary for spending 10 days in Hungary.

Pack Smart: Make a packing list based on your destination’s weather, activities, and cultural considerations. Remember essentials like travel documents, medications, and electronics.

Read more: The complete packing list for an island vacation.

Arrange Travel Documents: Ensure your passport is valid, and apply for any necessary visas. Keep copies of important documents like your ID, travel insurance, and itinerary.

Read more: How to plan the travel itinerary for a successful visa application.

Health Precautions: Visit your doctor for any required vaccinations or medical advice. Pack a travel first-aid kit with essentials.

Financial Preparations: Notify your bank of your travel plans to avoid issues with your cards. Carry a mix of payment options, including some local currency.

By planning and preparing thoroughly, you can minimize potential issues and focus on enjoying your next travel destination.


So where do you want to travel to? Deciding how to choose a vacation destination might not be always easy, but by thoroughly researching and planning, you can ensure your next travel destination is both enjoyable and suitable for your needs. Remember to stay flexible and open to new experiences, making your journey as rewarding as the destination itself. Happy travels!

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