The hardest part about travel is often deciding where to go.
Because our time or budget is limited the pressure is on to find the ideal place where our precious holiday time will be well spent, where our dollars will stretch as far as possible or where we can happily splurge knowing that it’s worth paying extra for a once in a lifetime experience and a memory that will last forever.
So how do you choose the best travel destination for you? How do you work out where you’ll be happiest traveling to and where you’ll get the best value for money?
Here are some factors to consider before you book those flights and pack your bags.
Some travelers are attracted to specific destinations for the type of accommodation they offer. Many people are looking for unique accommodation. Be it a yurt, an ice hotel or a tree house, they want to experience staying somewhere unique.
Often when one style of accommodation becomes popular other similar places pop up in other destinations. For example, the first ice hotel is in Sweden and the latest ice hotel has opened outside Quebec City in Canada. Despite that destinations are still limited for very specific and unique types of accommodation.
Some frequent travelers like big name hotels where they know what type of accommodation to expect and can settle into their holidays with little fuss and no nasty surprises.
Families traveling with kids often want to make sure their holidays are easy and fun for everyone by choosing hotels which are known to be kiddie friendly, or resorts with a kids club and babysitters to allow the parents some well earned adult time.
Accommodation is a personal choice but if I want to splurge I prefer exclusive boutique-style accommodation like The Lyall Hotel in Melbourne where I’ll get personal service or be one of a handful of guests.
I haven’t experienced it yet but I’d love to stay in one of the many amazing tree house hotels that are hidden away in some of the world’s best travel destinations. I love the idea of sleeping in comfort while feeling like a kid again in my own secret tree house.
If my budget is limited then simple beach huts in Thailand or India where you can get back to basics and escape from the pressures of modern life are my idea of travel heaven.
2. Activities or Sight-Seeing
Adventure travelers and people who want to see the sights of Paris, Sydney or Bangkok often don’t care where they stay. They’re focused on what they can see or do when they get to their ideal destination.
This type of traveler wants to indulge in special activities which can only be found in certain locations such as:
- scuba diving – try the Red Sea in Egypt or the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia;
- heli-skiing – try Whistler in Canada or Queenstown in Australia;
- a yoga retreat – India is the holy grail for yoginis but Bali has heaps of yoga retreats too;
- sailing – the Bay of Islands in New Zealand or the Carribbean are ideal destinations;
- learning to surf – Australia is popular but I recommend Costa Rica or Panama where the waves are less crowded and the water warmer.
- a culinary tour – foodies can take their pick depending on their taste from Italy or France to Thailand or Japan.
If you have a specific activity in mind or dream of visiting a certain place then you’ll choose your travel destination based on fulfilling those travel dreams. If there are still several options other factors will come into play to help make the final decision.
All travelers have a budget to stick to and, even if we want to stay in five star accommodation or are prepared to splurge on a special travel experience, we still want to get the best value we can.
I subscribe to several airline and travel industry websites to hear about the best deals as soon as they come out. For example, with the global recession cruise companies are really suffering so cruise lovers can pick up cabins for as little as $50 per person.
Meanwhile travel lovers who are hanging out to go to Maui or Kauai like me can take advantage of cheap airfares to Hawaii as soon as they hear about them if they keep their ear to the ground. These kind of special deals come up regularly but sell out fast.
Places like South East Asia and India appeal to budget travelers while places with a higher cost of living like the Caribbean Islands tend to attract wealthier travelers.
4. Ease and accessibility
Another decision-making factor when chosing your next travel destination is how easy it is to get to.
Sometimes a local vacation or travel destination you can drive to is easiest if you don’t have much time and want to spend as much time as possible relaxing, not traveling.
The Gold Coast or New South Wales are both within easy striking distance of my home town in Australia for a long weekend or short break.
Sometimes you’re up for a real adventure where getting there is part of the fun. In that case you’re prepared to put up with a few hardships along the way. Other times you just want to get to your travel destination and start relaxing as soon as you can.
Many people are forced to travel at certain times, such as over Christmas when they’re given a longer vacation time, or during school holidays when they don’t have to worry about taking kids out of school.
Demand is greater during these times so prices for flights and accommodation increase, but if you know when you need to travel in advance you can still get the best possible deal or the best accommodation by booking early.
When you’ve considered all these factors, made the necessary compromises and decided where to travel to you can get on with booking your flights and accommodation then start planning the finer details of your travels.
Once you’ve carefully picked your ideal travel destination and booked it you can look forward to your trip knowing the hardest part has been done.
This blog post was sponsored by Flight Centre who are committed to providing great travel at the cheapest available price.
What’s your ideal travel destination? How do you choose where to travel to next?
Photo credit: Victoria Peckham