The Grand Canyon lived up to its name and orca watching off the San Juan Islands was breathtaking.
That was all in the past, though. Now it’s time to plan the next big excursion.
But with so many places to visit, how do you choose the right one?
Blakely Trettenero, a world-traveling chef who has visited more than 30 countries, says her advice is to leave nothing to chance, which is the approach she takes for her own travels.
“It would be fun to say I just close my eyes and throw a dart at a map,” says Trettenero, host of the Hungry for Travels (www.hungryfortravels.com) and Cooking for Bimbos (www.cookingforbimbos.com) websites.
“But there’s a lot of planning and research that goes into every vacation.”
When pondering where to go next, she recommends:
- Pick five possible places you want to see. These could be in the United States, such as Las Vegas, New York City, New Orleans, Miami and San Francisco. Or they could be foreign destinations, such as London, Paris, Tokyo, Madrid and Venice. Then decide when you want to go, how long you want to stay and what you want to budget for flights and accommodations.
- Compare flights to every city. The internet makes this easy to do. Check the prices and the times that flights are available. If you’re on a tight budget, this is when crucial differences might begin to emerge.
- Check out potential accommodations. Some cities are more expensive than others. Look into all the options, such as hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, and other possibilities. Could you save a substantial amount of money if you stayed just outside the city you want to visit?
- Find out about surrounding cities or countries. You don’t want to stay in one place the whole time, but you also don’t want to spend a lot of time traveling. Research how to get from one place to another, such as a bus, train, ferry or rental car. “You want to know this ahead of time,” Trettenero says. “In the Greek Islands, I made the mistake of not looking up the ferry schedule. Because of that, I missed visiting one island altogether.”
- Stalk social media and the internet. Hashtags can help you find what others are saying about your destination choices on social media. Travel blogs are a great source, too. You can also just Google the places and find statistics, photographs, and points of interest.
Once you’ve gathered the information it’s time to make your choice and your reservations.
“It’s worth pointing out that there isn’t really one ‘right’ choice,” Trettenero says. “If you have a blast and come home with great memories, then that destination was the right one.”