If you’ve always taken the same sort of vacation, you might have never really thought about the perfect one for you. This can be especially true if you have always vacationed with family or friends and just gone along with the flow. Maybe you return to the same cabin in the mountains year after year or the same beach resort.
Maybe that actually is your perfect vacation, but what if it isn’t? Consider the five points below when planning your next getaway and see if you come up with something very different from your usual choices. While the questions below are all practical ones, you’ll benefit more from this exercise if you really dig deep and explore why you’re giving the answers that you are.
1. What’s Your Budget?
Your budget certainly has an impact on the trip that you choose, and there are things that will be out of your reach if you simply don’t have the money, but you may be surprised at how much you can do even on a small budget. Not having much to spend can still mean a luxury resort if you go somewhere inexpensive.
Another thing to consider is that more money does not necessarily mean more extravagance. It could mean traveling for longer. Maybe instead of a two-week vacation, you can spend two months or even two years traveling.
However, your first step is still to look at how much money you have and figure out how to save more if necessary. You might want to think of ways to cut back on your spending, and there might be some things you haven’t considered. You could pick up some gig work when you have spare time. You could even consider refinancing your student loan with a private lender like Earnest. You can end up paying a lot less each month, and the savings could go toward your next vacation.
2. Alone or With Others?
If you’re a committed solo traveler, you might not even have to ask this question. If you’ve never considered traveling on your own, you might wonder why anyone would do so. There are plenty of advantages to taking a trip on your own, the most obvious being that you don’t have to compromise on any part of it.
Of course, there are drawbacks as well. If you’re not crazy about your own company but you tend to be shy about meeting new people, this might not be the right choice for you—unless, of course, you’d like to challenge yourself, and then it could be perfect.
If you’re going with other people, you’ll need to think about who. Maybe your trip will include your extended family, such as parents, siblings, their partners, and their kids. Maybe it will just be you and your partner and your children. In both of these cases, you’ll need to think of kid-friendly options. Going as a couple, you’ll have a different set of criteria. Another option is to travel with friends. This can be a great idea, but it can also backfire if you don’t have an honest talk beforehand about finances and the things that you want to do.
3. Where to Go?
Rather than picking a destination in response to this question, you might instead ask yourself several sub-questions. First, do you want to travel domestically or abroad? If you’ve never even considered leaving the country because you’re worried about cost and language barriers, think again. A trip to a country with a lower cost of living can be cheaper than vacationing in your own country.
You can also go to a place where English is widely spoken. The next thing to ask yourself is whether you’d like to stay in a place that is more rural or urban. You should also think about whether you’d like to remain in just one place or travel around a lot, or perhaps you’d like to stay in one place but still be active. Consider that when someone says “beach,” one person might think about lying in the sun all day reading books while someone else might imagine days filled with scuba diving, sailing, and swimming.
4. All-Inclusive or DIY?
Another thing to consider is how much planning you want to do and how much freedom you want. If you want someone else to do all the work, you might consider an all-inclusive resort or a cruise.
If you also don’t mind having your free time planned by someone else, you may want to consider a tour. There are travel packages for just about anything that you want to do, from lying by a pool for a week to learning a language to cooking, hiking, or visiting three European cities in seven days.
On the other hand, doing your own research and designing your own trip may be a big part of the fun for you. If you are savvy and creative, a DIY trip will also almost certainly be cheaper than going for an all-inclusive package. One more thing to consider is the people going. An advantage of an all-inclusive resort or cruise for a family who wants to do different things but still spend some time together is that there are generally activities available for many different interests and ages.
5. Luxury or Roughing It?
Do you insist on a five-star hotel, or can you only get away from it all if you’re sleeping in a tent and only eating food you’ve packed in? Most people are somewhere in the middle, but especially when you’re planning a trip with others, it’s not uncommon to have to compromise a little bit on your comfort level.
However, if you hate camping and you know it, maybe you can come up with an alternative, like choosing a place that has both cabins and sites for pitching tents. If half your family wants to spend some time in the lap of luxury, maybe the rest of you can stay someplace nearby. Whatever you decide, the quality or lack thereof of your accommodations can really make or break this trip for you, so don’t feel like you have to accept an alternative that will make you genuinely unhappy.