We may be heading in to summer but we always know that in Britain we’re just moments away from the next wet weather. With this we find ourselves dreaming of far-away lands, escapes, and even a chance to bask in the sun. Whether you’re looking to plan a holiday trekking adventure, want a week on a beach, or a snowy experience with the Northern Lights, how do you narrow down your options? Here’s our fail safe guide to choosing your next holiday destination.
1. Ask yourself some questions:
Before you whip out the travel brochures or log on to Pinterest, take a moment to consider what you actually want. All too often we get lost in the finer details without stepping back and truly considering what we’re after.
There’s room for brochures and internet scouring later. Right now you need to get a handle on your holiday expectations. Try answering these questions:
• Which holidays have you most enjoyed in the past?
• What was it about them that made them enjoyable?
• Is the climate important to you? What about how hot is too hot? Do you mind humidity?
• Who are you traveling with? Family, friends, significant other or solo?
• Do you like to have everything done for you, or do you have an independent streak?
Mull over these questions and you’ll already be narrowing down your options before you break open the brochures.
2. Consider your budget:
We’re not being killjoys but travel really is a luxury. If you can’t afford it, you need to scale back your plans or save some more. Before you get lost in dreams that become fixed expectations, work out your budget.
Work out what you actually have in the pot to spend. Take a third off this (that’s for spending money, meals and holiday treats whilst you’re away). What’s left is your real budget.
It’s well worth doing this exercise before you begin planning. This way you narrow down options to the truly achievable. Remember – you’ll never truly enjoy a holiday if you’re worrying about pennies.
You can also use your budget information to guide your planning. You may be able to stick to the same destination but change accommodation for example. You may also be able to shift your dates and get prices down that way.
Before we move on from the budget point, consider the exchange rate in the countries you have on your radar. Knowing what this is, and how it may change, will impact your budget.
3. Consider your dates and times
Next you need to give some thought to various time factors. If you’re planning to travel long haul, then you need to consider how much of your total holiday time will be used on travelling. If you’ve only got a few days or a week to spare then you are likely better staying in the UK or travelling within Europe or North Africa.
If you’ve been planning (and budgeting) for years to do that North American road trip, don’t waste it by condensing it in to a short window of time. Focus on quality within the quantity of time you’ve got.
4. Next think about what you’re really after
Are you exhausted parents of toddlers in need of some rest and relaxation? Are you a retired couple with an interest in other cultures? Do you find sitting still nearly impossible but are desperate to unwind from corporate life? Are you traveling with friends who have different hobbies?
This is the time to think about what everyone’s expectations of the trip are. If it’s important to you that you have a pool and a private villa, then now is the time to acknowledge this. If it’s more important that there’s a vibrant nightlife or museums to visit then state that.
Don’t switch off the unusual ideas just yet. Simply knowing what you’re actually expecting is most important right now.
5. Start to short-list
By now you should have a solid understanding of yourself, your budget, and the expectations of everyone in your travel party. It’s time to start looking at destinations.
Again, don’t limit yourself at this stage. Remain open-minded about the places which come up even if you haven’t heard of them. Then you can consider them against harsh realities such as visas and political stability, before really honing in on your destination.
Now is also the time to give some consideration to ensuring the destination ticks your ‘weather box’ for the dates you’ve got. With the internet at your fingertips you can quickly get the information you need.
6. Refine your list by looking closer
Once you’re down to a handful of possible destinations it’s time to get up close and personal. Look up each of the places on your list and see what events and attractions you will be able to see and do while you are there. Do these add to or detract from your sense of whether it’s a good fit for you?
7. Go back to the budget
Now you’re down to just a few options. It’s time to start pricing up if you can really afford it by putting in sample dates for flights, checking out accommodation closely, and remembering to keep hold of that one-third for expenses and spending money.
At this stage you’ll be able to refine your options to fit your budget. If you’re matching up between destination and budget, well done, you’re there. If you’re not then go back a stage or consider delaying until your budget will match the destination.
8. Be decisive
Once you’ve got a match, get booking. Prices change rapidly in the world of travel and you don’t want to risk missing out because you were procrastinating.
If you’ve gone through the steps above you can be sure that you’ve chosen a destination which is right for you. Even if you dreamed of trekking in jungles but have opted for a week all-inclusive in Spain that doesn’t mean it’s the wrong choice. It’s the right choice for this holiday.
Where will your next holiday take you? Wherever you’re going, whatever your budget, get lost in the moment and enjoy it.