Where To Go – How to Choose the Right Destination

Sometimes you know it’s time for a trip, but just aren’t sure where to go. Don’t let that uncertainty be a roadblock or an excuse for not traveling.

Here are some tips to figure out the right destination and get on the road.

Consult your list.
If you have a bucket list or other travel wish list of places you’ve dreamed of going, your decision may be easy. If your list has so many possibilities, that it’s still a tough decision, or if you don’t have a list, page thru travel magazines, pull out ads with locations that excite you, and browse Pinterest boards – these are all ways to zero in on and identify places you are drawn to.

Think about what you enjoy.
Are you into museums? Unique animals? Outdoor adventures like hiking or rafting? Historical sites? Do you love the ocean? The mountains?

Ask yourself what you most want from this specific trip.
What are you really wanting to experience right now? Are you looking to relax on the beach, experience a new culture or see particular sites like the canals of Venice, the Eiffel Tower or Machu Picchu? Are you looking for an adventure or a break from challenges? Do you want to “rough it” or experience a bit of luxury? Are you looking for a natural oasis or a bustling city? Volcano hikes or Cirque du Soleil in Vegas. So many questions, but the answer to each will bring you closer to the right destination.

Consider what time of year you’ll be traveling.
If you have a particular timeframe for your trip you can use that to simplify the decision. For example, Daryle and I tend to travel in January – it’s when our life schedule tends to allow, it’s generally a slow travel time with good values, and it’s our anniversary. It’s also the coldest month in most of the northern hemisphere, including our home in Colorado. So when we’re planning a January trip, we tend to look for warm locations near the equator or in the southern hemisphere where its summer.


Look at how much time you have.
This shouldn’t prevent you from going where you’d like, but it’s good to consider. If you cross a whole bunch of time zones, you are going to spend a significant chunk of time adjusting. The more north/south your travel is, the less of this you have to deal with. For instance, coming from the U.S., even southern Chile will only cost you a few hours change at most, whereas Europe or southeast Asia is going to flipflop day and night on you.

Compare travel expenses.
Once you have a short-list of potential regions or destinations, get on search sites to get a feel for the cost of traveling to these top choices. This will let you prioritize in terms of value and what you can get for your money. I use Skyscanner.net for flights, hotels.com & booking.com for hotels and Airbnb for other lodging options. I’m not looking to book anything at this point, just getting a feel for what is available and average costs to see what kind of trip we can get in each location with what I feel we have to spend.

At this point one or maybe a handful of favorites will emerge and you’ll need to see which you and your traveling companions are most excited about. It can be helpful to pick one and sit with the decision for a week or two. Pick up a travel guide and start researching and planning. As you start compiling a list of all the things you want to do and see, you will usually be able to tell by your excitement level if you’ve picked well. If so, start booking! Visit my post on how to plan your trip for a guide on where to start. 

If you find yourself starting to stress about picking the “right” destination, remember there are really no wrong destinations. Amazing experiences wait for you everywhere if you are willing to travel with open eyes and a curious heart. The most important thing is that you pick somewhere and make it happen.