It’s currently spring in the U.K., which is the season my family and I start planning our annual summer vacation.
While it’s a fun task, researching and selecting a destination is never easy – there are just so many places to choose from. In a perfect world, we would take several vacations per year, traveling the globe. Heck, we would even stay in the U.K. for some of those vacations – there’s a reason the Tourism Alliance named it the eighth largest international tourism destination as ranked by visitor numbers.
When I first started planning these vacations years ago, I would be all over the place consuming myself with information. Over the years, I’ve picked up a few tips to help narrow down a vacation destination.
1. Get inspired year-round.
Although I sit down during spring to plan the vacation itinerary, I have my eyes open year-round for potential locations. Whenever I visit my local bookstore, I flip through magazines. If I see a destination that intrigues me, I make a note of it. I check out travel blogs, too. I came across this month-by-month travel guide with the best destinations for every month of the year, which is great for getting inspiration on where to travel for a specific month. If you know which month you’ll be traveling, monthly travel guides like this will help you decide where to go.
I also get ideas on where to travel to by watching TV, whenever an exotic destination on TV peaks my interest. When I’m on Pinterest, I pin any attractive locations that show up on my feed. I also search different hashtags on Instagram: #dreamvacation, #vacation, #travel, and #wanderlust are my go-to vacation inspiration hashtags. As you can see, vacation destination inspiration is truly everywhere. This tip has been key for me!
2. Plan for last minute planning.
This is something new that I have been going back and forth on; planning last minute, and allowing travel sites to be my guide. Sometimes, if you wait until super last minute to choose your accommodations, you can end up getting some of the best deals. This often means finalizing your plans only a few days before you leave, which can feel intimidating at times. However, the payoff is usually well-worth the wait.
Travelers typically think that booking far in advance or on a certain day of the week is the way to get the best deal, but based off of what I’ve seen, that’s not always the case. Let’s say it’s May 1, and an airline or a hotel sees that they still have a lot of spaces open for May 3. They will often offer significant discounts to get those seats and rooms filled.
When letting travel sites be your guide, it’s wise to begin by seeing what airfare options are available. Play around with different flights and hotels. It’s always helpful to have at least ten locations in mind that you price check in advance so you can get an idea about what a great deal actually looks like.
3. Consult a travel agent.
This is one of the easiest ways to choose and book a vacation. Let a travel agent know what you are looking for, including activities and climate. He or she can then help you narrow down a location based off your interests. They can even give you information about the cost to hire a private plane to the UK and suggest itineraries for a hassle-free vacation
If you do chose to use a travel agent, though, I advise treading with caution. It’s imperative to make sure you use a reputable one. While a lot of agents only charge an up-front fee, there are some who also make commissions from travel vendors. As a result, they could end up swaying you in certain directions because they want to collect those commissions.
4. Consider your major must-visit places.
Do you have a bucket list of tourist destinations? For example, some people go to Paris specifically to see the Catacombs. Look through your list of must-visit places and see how well each of them aligns with your current budget and time frame. Don’t forget that some museums and other places offer free admission at certain times of the year!
If you’re unsure what places should be on your must-visit list, you can easily take inspiration from many “best of” lists. For example, TripSeats lists Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. as the top destination in the world: “From vast mountains, to thick forests and magnificent geysers, Yellowstone National Park is a site to behold… the park is one of America’s most impressive places.”
5. Check out Groupon.
Groupon has a getaways section with vacation destinations at discounted prices. While I’ve never booked through Groupon, I have used it to get some ideas. Currently, as I’m doing a quick search, there’s a three or six-night stay in the Dominican Republic, a Panama City Golf Resort Getaway, and a Tour of Italy. Many of their packages include airfare, hotel and transportation.
Ultimately, no matter where you go, taking the time to plan everything out will help you have the best possible vacation experience!