So…you have the PTO days approved from work, and you’re thinking – “I need to leave my zip code, but where to?” Here are 3 quick tips to assist in choosing the best destination for you.  There are tons of online “tests” where you can select certain activities you want to do while on vacation, and the algorithm calculates whether you should go to Paris or the Bahamas.  But you can do this on your own too!!

  • You need to answer an easy one – how do you want the weather to be? In the U.S. it’s pretty easy to know when (generally speaking) certain states expect to have warm or cold weather, or when it’s supposed to be rainy (think FL).  However, when going abroad, it takes a little bit more research – and please don’t rush it! For example, if you live in NYC, and thinking of taking an international trip in the Summer, where you can wear a bathing suit and sip cocktails on the beach, Australia (as lovely as it is), should not be on your list.  This is when the Aussies are enjoying winter.  This year, I wanted to visit Costa Rica for my anniversary (August), but after a quick, yet thorough search online, I learned that it’s their rainy (torrential) season.  Essentially, do not plan your vacation based on the weather outside of your window.  Always double check the weather of your destination before you purchase your airfare.  I tend to review Weather Underground so I can review the almanac for averages in temperature and rainfall.  May seem easy to remember, but I can’t tell you have many conversations I’ve had with fellow travelers who were unfortunately very unprepared for the weather.

 

  • Take a moment and think about what you really want to do. Do you really want to see forts and museums, or would you rather sip onmojitos, or perhaps you want to keep it action-packed and go skiing or zip-lining.  Another habit that I advise my friends against is choosing a location based on “what you’ve heard about it” or worse, what you hope the destination will bring you based on a dream.  For example, don’t go to Dubai thinking you’re going to drink expensive cognac from a fancy restaurant terrace overlooking the desert.  That will literally not happen – a)the desert is not visible from the “city”, and more importantly, b)Dubai is “dry”.  Yes, some hotels may permit you to drink alcohol if remain in your room or in a private lounge, but even your favorite stateside spots like T.G.I.F. or Wagamama’s don’t serve alcohol (or pork) due to regulations – thus get the “Las Vegas of the Desert” dream out of your mind.  Do your own research on TripAdvisor and visit the site created by the city’s travel bureau to see what activities and corresponding tour companies the city is actually known for.  The city has a vested interest to keep their visitors safe, as tourism is a critical industry for many places – thus, the locale’s site will include tour operators that are usually safe and offer competitive prices.

 

  • Should you remain local or get your passport ready? Well, how long do you want to be traveling for?  The idea of Tahiti may be great – but yes, it’s far.  The flight from Los Angeles is approximately 9 hours – and that doesn’t include the additional ferry or flight time from the island of Tahiti to where you’ll actually stay (Moorea or Bora Bora, etc.).  So you’re thinking: “that’s not bad – I can handle the flight, as I have my heart set on staying in an overwater bungalow”.  I want you to now consider that you’re going to lose time (approximately 6 hours) when you fly home (considering you live on the East coast of the U.S.).  Thus, you now have to factor time zone change on top of the flight time.  Again, I know this is not the “fun” part of traveling, and I personally find the journey well worth it – but if you only have 5 days perhaps, for a getaway, you should factor in time zone changes + traveling time so you can make the most of your time off.  If you can stay within 2 hours of your time zone, and fly no longer than 3-4 hours to reach a destination, that should be perfect for a quick 4-5 day trip.  If you are trying to visit Australia or Moorea – do yourself a solid, and carve out a minimum of 10 days for the trip.  You will spend at least 2 days traveling and recovering from travel before you see the Koalas. J