How to choose your travel destinations

You’ve made the decision you want to travel more this year. You’ve realised experiences are more important than possessions and you’ve put together a plan to start saving for your next big trip.

But how are you going to decide where to actually go?

Budget and time will undoubtedly play a part in the decision making process but with so many amazing places in the world, from a serene yoga retreat in Bali to an adrenaline-filled adventure in Iceland, how do you whittle it down?

If you’re anything like me, you’ll just want to go EVERYWHERE and explore as much of the world as possible! But unless you’re taking a few years out to travel, this really isn’t an option. While some people want to go everywhere, other people don’t have one place on their wish list and they’re not sure how to discover new places to go.

Whichever situation you’re in, here are my top tips to help you choose your travel destinations.

Tips to help choose where you'll travel to next

First of all, let’s start with some questions:

  • City, beach or countryside?
  • Hot or cold weather?
  • Adventure or relaxation?
  • Shopping, culture or adrenaline?
  • Family,  friends or boyfriend/girlfriend? Or maybe solo?
  • Independent travel or have everything organised for you?
  • Budget or splash the cash? Or somewhere in the middle?
  • Off the beaten track or a tried and tested destination?

We’ve starting thinking about what kind of holiday you’re after, so it’s easier to pin-point the kind of destination you’d like.

Now it’s time to get in the right frame of mind…


10 tips when choosing your destination


#1. Be open-minded

Haven’t heard a place? Can’t even pronounce a place? Have no idea where a place is? But you’ve found suspiciously cheap flights to said place…? Google the hell out of it, check it’s safe and book that flight! Sometimes you’ll have the best adventures in places you can’t pronounce. Ljubljana, I’m talking to you.


#2. Be creative

You want to travel to a certain destination but flights are really expensive? Don’t let this put you off, find an alternative. Using the example of Ljubljana again, it’s really expensive to fly direct but flights to Venice are cheap and then there’s a 2 hour shuttle bus from Venice into Ljubljana. Problem solved.


#3. Consider the underdog

Every country has a ‘second city’ and it’s often a much cheaper and a more unique alternative to the capital city.


#4. Be decisive

You’ve found a place you want to go. Book it now. Go on, book it. Don’t think about it for 3 weeks and then think a bit more and then realise you’ve missed the opportunity.


#5. Ask yourself ‘why’?

Why do you want to travel? Do you want to relax, have fun with your mates, reconnect with a loved one, switch off from work, learn something new, get a tan or have an adventure? It’s easier to decide where you’re going when you know why you’re going there.


#6. Remember, remember…

You’ll only regret the things you didn’t do.

I always think about this when I need a kick up the arse to be a little more adventurous.


#7. Safe choices aren’t bad choices

Yes, I like to be adventurous in my travel choices but a good old weekend in Paris or an all-inclusive beach holiday should never been sneered at. So what if a million people have done it before you. If you have a good time, that’s all that matters.


#8. Go Solo

You’ve found somewhere you REALLY want to go but no one wants to go with you? Don’t let this stop you, go solo!


#9. Don’t dismiss your own backyard

Who said travelling has to include long flights? Search a little closer to home, you’d be surprised by the hidden gems you might find.


#10. There’s always a budget option

Don’t let your budget stop you from travelling somewhere. Even the most expensive countries have budget options like hostels where you can cook your own food, free city tours and public transport. You’re going to need to be creative but that often makes it more fun.


it's easier to figure out where you're


Now you know what kind of trip you want and you’re in the right frame of mind to start your search. It’s time for the fun part…


Where to look for travel inspiration


The inspiration stage of travel planning is my favourite part. January is the perfect time of year for this stage because most people spend a lot of time indoors and often don’t have much money to get out and about.

This is the time to get yourself a giant pot of tea or coffee, crack open the Chocolate Hob Nobs and spend a weekend surrounded by books, magazines and your laptop.



Ahhh, Pinterest, my favourite procrastination tool and an endless source of wanderlust.

If you aren’t familiar with Pinterest, think of it like an online mood-board or scrapbook. You can create as many ‘boards’ as you like and you ‘pin’ images to your boards. This is the modern day version of chopping up magazines and gluing them into a scrapbook.

You can have boards for all sorts of things such as your travel wish list, beautiful beaches, hotels you want to visit, activities you want to try or country specific boards. I even have useful boards such as ‘Travel Tips’ with articles I find online that I know I’ll want to read again in the future.

Start by searching for travel pins and before you know it you’ll have lots of boards filled with places you want to visit.

Warning: There’s a crazy amount of photos of Santorini in Greece on Pinterest so this island will soon be on your list!

Using Pinterest to chose your travel destinations



Lonely Planet’s Lists

It seems like every travel site has a list of ‘Top Places to Visit this Year’ but the only lists I’m ever interested in are the Lonely Planet Best in Travel lists.

Lonely Planet are usually spot on with up-and-coming destinations. It’s good to be one of the first to visit these places, not only because we all love to say, ‘I went there before mass tourism hit’, but it will also be cheaper if you get in there a year or two before everyone else.

I love the big Lonely Planet books such as Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2017. Make sure you get the print edition rather than the Kindle or ePub. You’ll want this on your coffee table and it’s too gorgeous to be hidden away on your Kindle.

If you plan to travel a lot in 2015 then budget is likely to play a big part in choosing your destinations. Check out Lonely Planet’s Best Value Destinations for some inspiration.



Accommodation vs Destination?

Rather than searching for destinations, search by accommodation option. Maybe you want to stay in an amazing spa, the most luxurious hotel in the world, a themed hotel or something really quirky?

Accommodation is often more important than the destination if you plan to have a relaxing break. If you’re going to a spa for example, it doesn’t matter where you are because you’ll spend most of your time wrapped in a fluffy robe while you’re pampered from head to toe.

Consider staying closer to home to save yourself time and money. You’ll still feel like you’ve had a holiday without spending days of travelling to get there.

This tree house was just an hour from home but felt like another world.











This tree house was just an hour from home but felt like another world.


Travel Bloggers

I know I’m biased but I think following travel blogs is the best way to find travel inspiration.

Travel bloggers are often ahead of the game when it comes to new travel destinations. Most bloggers will do a combination of independent travel and working with tourism boards to help them uncover the best things to do.

Bloggers can also keep you motivated to keep travelling – although there can be a fine line between inspiration and pure jealousy!

Here are some of my favourite bloggers to keep an eye on:

This list could go on and on and on because I read so many blogs so maybe I’ll save that for another post.



I’m a magazine addict and I’ll pick up a travel magazine virtually every time I get on a train.

If you’re lucky enough to have a good library nearby, make the most of it! My local library has subscriptions to magazines like Wanderlust, Lonely Planet, National Geographic and lots more.



Travel for a festival

If you’ve always been saying you’d love to travel for a particular festival or event, make 2015 the year you actually do it.

You usually need to get your flights and accommodation booked in early if it’s a popular event so look into it as soon as you can.

Here are some ideas:

  • India for Holi Festival
  • Thailand for Songkran
  • Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival or Hogmanay
  • London for Wimbledon
  • Spain for Benicassim
photo credit: florian_kopp2204

photo credit: florian_kopp2204


Travel for a hobby

Do you have a particular hobby that can be incorporated into a holiday? I love yoga holidays and my boyfriend loves scuba diving holidays so Bali was an ideal holiday destination for us because it’s great for both.

Other hobby holidays might include:

  • Cycling holidays
  • Skiing holidays
  • Sailing holidays
  • Fishing holidays
  • Golfing holidays
  • Writing holidays
  • Photography holidays

The list could go on but you get the idea, you can find a holiday for pretty much any kind of holiday!

If you need some more inspiration, here are my dream trips for the #Take12Trips challenge.

As I’m pregnant and Baby is due in March, there’s no chance I’ll be doing all of these this year but I can dream, right…?

  • January – A healthy yoga holiday
  • February – A skiing holiday with a stay in a gorgeous, rustic lodge
  • March – A weekend in Paris
  • April – Sri Lanka
  • May – Krakow
  • June – Mozambique
  • July – Road trip around Ireland
  • August – Camping or glamping in the UK
  • September – Dubrovnik
  • October – Iceland
  • November – Morocco
  • December – New York

Once you’ve decided on a destination the next stage is getting it booked. Next Monday’s post is all about finding the best deals on flights. Keep your eyes peeled or sign up for the newsletter so you don’t miss it.



Do you have any more tips to help choose a travel destination?

In case you missed them, check out:

How to travel more

How to save money to travel more 


Monica is the founder and editor of The Travel Hack. She began the blog in 2009 when she left the UK to travel around Asia and Australia for two years. She's now a full time blogger and has travelled around the world in search of the best holidays. Monica lives in Wales with her growing family and now also blogs about travelling with young children!


  • January 12, 2015

    Great post Mon. You’re right about stopping the “oh can i REALLLLLLY go to X?” Theres always a reason not to go places, but sometimes you’ve just got to close your eyes and leap. 🙂

  • January 12, 2015

    My problem is I want to go everywhere! I try to prioritise early in the year and try to book in advance to get cheaper flights.
    As a rule I would say we should do long haul journeys while we’re young and without kids yet, but normally when we’re young we may not have the money. Suddenly you may have the money but not enough holiday!
    Another good tip is to travel out of season. E.g October is still quite warm in many places is south Europe but it’s way cheaper than summer time.
    And yes explore around you, some people cross the world to find something similar to what they have next door

  • January 12, 2015

    This is so useful and so relevant to me right now. I turned round to my boyfriend yesterday and said the exact words ‘we need to decide where to go on holiday this year’ You’re right, it is so hard when you want to go everywhere!

    Katie <3

  • January 12, 2015

    #5 is especially true for this traveling lady! I always ask myself what I want to learn or take away from each adventure I choose. Culture? Natural beauty? Culinary experiences?

    Thank you so much for the comprehensive list Monica!

  • January 13, 2015

    This is a great list of ways to get inspired – I just have one to add – ask you kids! My four-year-old is more often in charge of where we end up going, and it’s fun. Although his ultimate destination would be Egypt and that’s not on the cards this year (don’t tell him though!).

  • January 13, 2015

    Fab post, as always. Thanks for the shout-out as well; it’s quite an honour to be included in lists like that one!
    I like the idea of booking for your accommodation rather than the destination – there are so many hotels I’m dying to stay at, I just need to start ticking them off, especially if they’re a little closer to home!

  • January 13, 2015

    I love these tips! And yes I agree that sometimes the “second hand” cities can often be the best. I love searching for destinations that are somewhat off the beaten path. Usually those are my favorite places!

  • January 13, 2015

    Excellent post! I especially loves tips 8, 9, and 10 because not following those tips is one of the easiest ways to end a trip before even reaching the “dreaming of travel” phase.

  • Amanda
    January 14, 2015

    This year I’m going on my first ever trip to the UK and I’m so excited for it! The UK has always topped my travel wishlist and I have finally decided to stop waiting for someone to come with me so I’m going solo. Yours is one of the blogs that inspired me to just book it and the trip can’t come soon enough!

  • January 14, 2015

    Wow! That was WAY more in depth than I was expecting and filled with perfect ideas!! First off, I love #3 & #9 and really have to remember #8. I never really think about traveling alone.

    The world is so big! And I want to see it all…so I definitely needed some tips 🙂 Thanks!!

  • January 15, 2015

    Being open is also my first criteria for travel.

    By being open we’ve come across some amazing places / deals that we never thought about before. Sometimes things just fall into place when you’re open.

  • January 16, 2015

    What a great post! I would love to travel abroad to a festival like La Tomatina in Spain, the tomato throwing festival

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

  • January 17, 2015

    Great post! We like to mix up our travels. We have to do at least one epic trip a year to somewhere warm and exotic (like Bali or Myanmar), some place we haven’t previously explored – gotta try out new foods! We also enjoy a family get-together with extended family down in Cabo San Lucas each year. And Europe always calls out to us. It’s just as well the world is one huge fabulous place and that we can’t discover it all in one lifetime :-). Will you be traveling with baby when the little one arrives? Probably lots of family travel stories in your future :-). Life with a child will be your biggest trip!

  • January 18, 2015

    Hey Monica,

    Probably my favourite place to get travel inspiration is instragram. Just following a few travel photographers (or just professional photographers by country) and I get endless ideas of things to do on my next trip.

    Congrats of being pregnant BTW. I guess more time for blogging this year 🙂

    Jack Johnson.

  • January 18, 2015

    Quite the comprehensive list you’ve got here! I love Tip #7 about safe choices. Completely agree that off-the-beaten-path is great, but so are good ol’ standbys. It hurts me sometimes when people skip Machu Picchu, for instance, just because “everyone does it.” There’s a reason everyone does it and it’s called “because Machu Picchu is freaking mind-blowingly awesome.”

    Hope you get to do a few things on your 2015 wish list!

  • Justin
    January 25, 2015

    Great list! I have to add this page to your bookmarks and use your plan. Everything is always chaotic=)
    I almost forgot, congratulation of being pregnant.

  • June 18, 2015

    Great travel advice. I really agree with the tip that safe choices aren’t bad choices when in another area. Thanks for sharing!

  • November 9, 2015
  • January 31, 2016

    Your article is very interesting, very useful to define the next holiday destination !

  • Dariusz
    April 25, 2016

    I recently did a different kind of search for destination , especially when You’r “must see/been” list is completed. Just search for flights or cheap flights in next 3-6 months and You get an idea – I have never thought about travel for Israel for an example, and finally get there. Worth to try 😉

  • Gina
    September 16, 2016

    Wonderful tips!
    We missed going on a family vacation this summer 🙁
    But already making plans for a a fun getaway during the holiday season.

  • June 23, 2018
  • harry
    June 27, 2018

    Good article

  • August 10, 2018

    Great tips. Relevant for me, as I have to choose a travel destination for my upcoming vacation in September. I have another secret tool—consider the season you’ve reserved for your trip, and then choose the country which offers lots of things to do in the meantime, or maybe some special event, festival, etc. So I google search “September destinations”, and then explore suggested options. You might specify your search and also add “beach holiday”, or “cheap”, or whatsoever, depending on what kind of holiday you’re looking for.

  • September 4, 2018

    #3 is such a big one. I’ve often found I end up having a better time in the “underdog” cities not only because they’re less expensive, but they’re also less crowded, etc. And they feel more authentic because generally they’re less geared towards tourists.

  • April 28, 2020

    Thanks so much. it’s Great travel. I really agree with the tip that safe choices aren’t bad choices when in another area.

  • August 20, 2020

    You made a good point that choosing safe travel destinations doesn’t mean it’s not adventurous enough to be fun. I’m planning to go on a vacation with my boyfriend soon but we will need to choose a place that’s not frequented by people in order to still comply with social distancing guidelines. Maybe a staying in a mountain cabin for a few days would be a fun and relaxing getaway for us.


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