Tips for Choosing Your Next Vacation Destination

You’re ready to take a vacation. You’ve planned for it, saved for it. You’ve earned it. Now the question is: Where should you go? Most people head to places they’ve visited before or just the usual getaway destinations. But a vacation is an opportunity to get out of your rut and experience different cultures, terrains, and peoples. Here’s how to put some creative thought into your next vacation and make your time off memorable.

1)  Do What You Like:

Rather than defaulting to wherever you usually go, take a step back and ask yourself what you really dream about. If you are single or part of a couple, this is a relatively simple process. For a family or group, it gets a little more complicated with so many tourists to please, but you can make the planning part of the process. Have a getaway get-together to powwow about the possibilities. You’ll be surprised what comes up when you really think about your most heartfelt vacation wishes. Be sure you have a computer handy so that you can surf the internet as you discuss destinations.

2)  Be Realistic with Your Budget

Many vacationers just close their eyes and put it on plastic, with promises to pay it off during the rest of the year. But a vacation doesn’t have to put undue stress on your budget. Sit down and crunch some numbers, and see how affordable it is or isn’t to make that trip to your ancestral hometown in Europe. It might be that this time around you’ll get more bang for your buck by sticking to domestic travel or heading south to less costly Central American destinations, and you can save up to take that particular dream vacation at a later date. It can be all too easy to ignore the practicality of some vacations, but that stick-your-head-in-the-sand approach could have a profound impact on your household finances.

3) Estimate Costs Accurately

Likewise, It’s entirely possible to under-calculate the actual costs of your trip, because a vacation is about much more than just airfare and hotel. While you may have a good idea of your per diem costs, chances are good that there will be a few impulsive meals and activities along the way. Whatever your estimate is, play it safe and add another third to it to allow for any unexpected delights that present themselves once you’re there.

4) Go with Your Heart

Nevertheless, it’s a wide world and life is short, so don’t be afraid to follow your heart. Even if, at first glance, a destination looks to be too costly, there are many ways to shave expenses. You can search for more economical accommodations, for starters. There are several web sites that allow owners to rent out their homes (among the better known are Vacation Rentals By Owner www.vrbo.com and Airbnb www.airbnb.com)--often at a fraction of hotel prices. Plus, by living in a home or apartment, you will have use of the kitchen, allowing you to save tons on food by eating in. If you shop the local markets, you also can try preparing some local cuisine. Low-cost activities, such as city walks and nature hikes, can give you an up-close-and-personal look at your destination of choice.

5) Plan Ahead

Whatever vacation you choose, it is typically cheaper if you plan it out in advance. You will have more time to get better airfares and hotel rates (and pay off that credit card charge before you even take the trip.) Planning will also let you more carefully consider where you want to spend your hard-earned dollars. Look into the activities available at your destination and figure out ahead of time what you want to do, taking into consideration the logistics and any equipment needs. The time you spend pre-planning will save precious vacation time once you are on the ground.

6) Consider a Group Tour

If you are really anxious about going to an unusual destination, consider a group tour. Group tours can often be quite economical, and you will have the benefit of the safety a group can afford. This is a particularly good choice if you are thinking about more adventure-style travel. A group tour can be a good way to get an introduction to an area, paving the way for future solo travel.

For more information and travel tips, visit the Smart Voyager website.