How to pick your next travel destination

With cheap airfare to destinations all over the world, choosing a travel destination is harder than ever. You really can go almost anywhere (which is a great problem to have) but then where should you start?

The truth is, a quiz really can’t tell you where you should go. And neither can your friends or family.

I really, truly believe that, deep down, you know exactly where you want to go. And in this post, my goal is to help you realize exactly where that is.

1. Brainstorm destinations using a handwritten list

Before you start, number your sheet of paper from one to 10, then set a timer for three minutes. Yes, that seems like a really short amount of time, but it helps narrow down options from the start.

Just write down 10 places you’d like to visit. Not all of your ideas need to be practical—these can be crazy back-of-napkin ideas or completely practical. This exercise all about learning what adventure is burning in the back of your mind, so include a range of options.

Stuck? Think about including:

  • Places that always make you say “I want to go there someday”
  • Specific locations—do you want to go to Arizona or do you really just want to go to the Grand Canyon?
  • Locations you keep pinning on Pinterest
  • Places you think you would like that seem too touristy/not touristy enough for your vacation
  • Destinations you could see yourself visiting with your partner or closest friend
  • Destinations you would want to visit alone
  • A destination you want to visit that seems wildly impractical

DID YOU COMPLETE STEP 1?

Before you proceed to the next step, be sure you have your top 10 list ready. This is the best way to ensure that you get you’re able to capture your most immediate reaction in the next section.

2. Go with your gut

Right now (again, if you didn’t finish the last step, pick your top ten first!) without thinking about it for more than one second…Draw a star next to your favorite destination. NOW!

The star doesn’t mean that it will end up being the option you pursue right now for your next vacation, but it does reveal a lot about what you really, truly want deep down. We’ll be giving this item some special consideration later.

Depending on logistics, this place might have to become one for the bucket list. But then again, it might be possible if you put in extra work.

3. Process of elimination

Next, cross out destinations that are simply not possible for you to visit right now. These include areas with high geopolitical conflict or places you cannot get the required visa to visit (check using this tool). Don’t have anything to cross out yet? That’s fine!

Now cross out anywhere you don’t have the vacation time to see at the pace you wish. In my experience, if you only have a couple days in your dream destination, that will not be nearly enough. Getting there will probably cost a significant amount of money, so make sure you have the time to make your favorite destinations worthwhile before committing. After all, that place will probably still be around in years to come.

4. Take a moment to consider the most practical destination

Now look for the place that’s the closest and cheapest. This probably wasn’t your top choice (we already indicated that with a star—if it is your top choice and the most practical… you should definitely go there!) but all the options in front of you made your top 10 for a reason! Draw a star next to the remaining destination that would be the most practical for you right now—somewhere you could afford with some extra effort and comfortably squeeze into your available vacation time without quitting your job and selling your belongings.

5. Go back and consider your starred destinations

First, look at your top destination—the one we first marked with a star. To what extremes would you need to go to make this location a possibility? What’s your main barrier? Think hard. Usually, it will be lack of money. If you would have to skip meals or change apartments to save enough money to make it a reality, then it’s not the right option for you right now. If you could set aside enough cash by seriously cutting expenses (check out these 40+ money-saving techniques) or working overtime, this means it’s also practical—add another star.

Now, look at the starred practical destination again. You likely have two options:

  1. Go to your practical/affordable destination in the short term while saving for your dream destination in the long term.
    To some people, two vacations sound a lot better than one—even if that means putting off your dream destination until later.
  2. Skip your practical destination in order to save for your dream destination
    Of course, this would probably mean you couldn’t hit the road right away because you’ll need to spend some time-saving. This isn’t a great option for someone who really, really just needs to get out of the office. But it is ideal for anyone for anyone willing to wait for the perfect experience.

Again, think hard. Does option one or option two better fit your situation? Remember, either way, you will get to visit your dream destination someday! There really is no wrong answer—you just need to choose.

Are you ready? Circle the place you will be going! 

Congratulations, you picked your next travel destination!


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Congratulations! You picked your next travel destination.

Let’s get planning.

Learn to save money so you can get on the road

You already chose your destination. Now, it’s time to work out the logistics. I promise it doesn’t have to be hard. Not knowing when your dream will become a reality is way scarier.

Planning doesn’t have to be stressful. In fact, it can be fun.

This workbook—5 Steps to Your Next Vacation—will help you get your ideas in writing so you can turn them into reality! 

In this editable PDF (you can type on screen so you don’t need to print it out!), you’ll work through:

  • Planning flight/transportation logistics
  • Accounting for restrictions like time, money, passports/visas
  • Estimating a daily budget so you know how much to save
  • Choosing travel dates that will work for you and your savings plan

I’m ready to check my dream destination off my bucket list. Send me the editable PDF.

Download the workbook