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Guide for Planning Your Next Vacation: Planning Tips & Destination Ideas

The world is a big place, and it seems to have gotten even bigger after years of no travel.

With so many unique destinations scattered between the two coasts of the US, not to mention so many amazing cities spread around the globe, it seems impossible to narrow down the best places to visit, let alone your next vacation destination.

That’s where we come in! To help ease your travel stress, check out our tips for choosing your next getaway destination. And don’t forget to take a peek at some of the best places you can visit in the US and abroad for a spectacular, fun-filled vacation!

Table of Contents

Where to Go on Vacation: 6 Tips for Choosing Your Next Travel Destination

Before you pack your bags and jet off through the skies, here’s your first tip to get the most out of your next vacation:

Take the time to be sure you’re choosing the right travel destination for you.

Choosing your travel destination is a bit of an art, but a fun one! 

And we’ve got a breakdown of the best tips for choosing the right destination for you. 

So the next time you think to yourself where is a good place to go on vacation, you’ll know the answer—or at least where to start looking—so you can make your next trip a memorable one.

1. Ask Yourself Why You’re Traveling

This might seem like a simple question, but it’s helpful to consider your answer before moving forward with your planning.

If you’re traveling because you have some unexpected time off work, then the destination might not be so important. The only thing that matters is making sure you’re able to get away from work.

But it’s essential to take stock of your mental and physical needs. 

For example, if you’re experiencing burnout from work, you may need to recharge your batteries. However, that means different things for different people. So, figure out whether recharging means a relaxing getaway on a private beach or a two-week vacay sequestered away in the wilds of a national park. 

On the other hand, say your goal is to spend time with your family. In that case, a family-friendly destination that offers a range of activities for kids is a must.

From thrill-seeking adventures to sightseeing trips and getaways with the singular purpose of eating delicious foods and drinking first-rate wine, once you’ve teased out the reason you want to travel, you’ll have a firm grasp on where to focus your destination search.

2. Confirm Your Travel Style

After you’ve narrowed down the scope of your search, you can consider your travel style. 

You can define your travel style as your personal preferences for traveling.

For example, do you prefer group or solo travel? Is a luxury hotel with a fancy indoor pool a must, or will a shared hostel room do the trick? Do you like the idea of joining a tour to ensure you hit all the major tourist sites, or do you prefer charting your own path? 

Most of us have been on a few trips in our lifetime to help us decide. Furthermore, you don’t need a lot of prior experience to figure out what your preferences might be.

Here are a few ways to determine your travel style:

  1. Think about how you’ve traveled in the past.
  2. Check out accounts of other traveler experiences, noting what sounds like something you’d enjoy.
  3. Take a fun travel quiz.

Your past experiences, what you think of other travelers’ adventures, and how you answer quiz questions will all be good indicators for how you’d prefer to travel on your next trip.

3. Establish How Much Time You Have

Figuring out your trip timeframe is a must. 

From weekend getaways to week-long retreats, how much time you have will determine how your time is best spent. 

Are you going away for a weekend trip? In that case, you’ll want to choose somewhere nearby or that you can get to with a short flight. Additionally, you’ll want to narrow your trip down to hit the most exciting sights and experiences. 

On the other hand, you can spare more time for travel if you have several weeks of paid time off. You can also plan a lot more things to do and see during your vacation.

So, figure out how much time away you can afford and how much time you can dedicate to enjoying your destination in person.

4. Figure Out Your Travel Needs

Every trip is different, so your travel needs will change depending on where you find yourself traveling.

A trip to Miami Beach will require a different set of tools and planning to make the most out of your vacation than a trip to the Rocky Mountains. Even comparing experiences between all-inclusive cruise ships versus an all-inclusive stay at Walt Disney World Resort will differ.

And speaking of Disney World, who you travel with also plays a factor. 

Suppose you’re on a family vacation with young kids. In that case, you’ll want to consider things like strollers or other baby carriers, daily packing essentials, etc. 

On the contrary, if you’re traveling alone, you generally have fewer details to consider—though not always!

There are also questions you’ll need to answer about transportation and lodgings. How will you get around your destination? What sort of accommodations will fit your needs and budget? An Airbnb might afford you extra room and privacy, but you may be more interested in hostels so you can connect with other travelers and make new friends.

5. Determine Your Budget

Your budget is an integral part of your trip planning. As such, it should be one of the first things you consider. 

However, we decided to put it a little further down this list for several reasons. Most importantly, you need a rough idea of the kind of place you want to go to, the activities you want to do, and how you plan to travel first. 

You can start budgeting appropriately once you know the destination, the kind of trip you want, and all those details. 

If this is a last-minute trip, you’ll have to work with what you already have saved up. That might prove to be a limited budget, which could affect your trip plans. But, if you’re planning for the future, then you can more easily save to afford your dream trip. 

If you’re looking to travel a bit luxuriously, then you’ll need more money to spring for pricier accommodations, extra amenities, and more experiences. 

Then again, if you’re no stranger to roughing it, you may be looking to say goodbye to civilization at the park entrance and spend a few days wandering a place like Arches National Park for cheap. 

Options to fit your comfort level can range from an affordable vacation rental to extravagant cruise lines and everything in between. You don’t have to break the bank to have an incredible vacation. 

Just follow three simple rules for your budget planning:

  1. Determine your budget limits ahead of time
  2. Prepare a cash cushion in case of emergencies
  3. Don’t go overboard booking extras you don’t need

Of course, the tried and true method of finding amazing travel deals works too. Try signing up for Next Vacay to save big on your flight costs and give your budget more wiggle room!

6. Consider How Weather Factors In

We constantly make concessions for the weather in our daily lives. Dreary days mean donning rain jackets and rapidly changing temperatures mean layered outfits to ensure we don’t burn up. Or freeze to death. 

Work out how the weather may affect your travel plans and determine the best season for you to travel. We’re not just talking about weather seasons but also seasonal tourism patterns. 

While most destinations are great in whatever season you visit, the exploits you can get into are severely limited to the weather. After all, if you’re going cross-country skiing in Aspen, you won’t be looking to travel in the summer months.

And while a boat ride on the river sounds nice, in the dead of winter may be a bit uncomfortable.

If you’re not picky about where you’re going or what you’re doing, consider visiting destinations out of season when there are fewer crowds. Just be prepared to get creative with what you do there!

Pro-tip: Avoid peak season crowds and high prices by traveling in the shoulder season. The weather is still pleasant, rates are less expensive, and lines for attractions are shorter.

Traveling always has trade-offs to consider. However, as long as you know and accept those compromises beforehand, you can have a great time!

What Is the #1 Vacation Spot in the US?

San Francisco takes the #1 vacation spot in the US, according to Next Vacay. With the upheaval of travel in 2020, it’s no surprise travelers began looking to visit destinations that offer a bit of everything. San Francisco delivers a diverse culture, charming neighborhoods, stunning views, and endless entertainment. 

Everyone knows the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge connecting the city of San Fran with Marin County. It has starred in enough movies to earn global recognition, with scenes in several franchise films like Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) and Pacific Rim (2013). 

It could be argued that the city is a movie star in its own right. Countless popular films feature landmarks from the Painted Ladies to the Palace of Fine Arts, Alcatraz prison, and Lombard Street. But this iconic American city has even more to offer.

San Francisco is one of the most racially diverse cities in the US, home to many people of Mexican descent, and one of the biggest Chinatowns in the world. In fact, Chinatown is one of the most popular tourist spots in the city!

Delicious dining makes this destination a food lover’s paradise. Meanwhile, bustling attractions and scenic views will keep your vacation itinerary packed, from the start of your trip to the bittersweet end.

Where to Go on Vacation in the US: 3 Fun Destinations

We have no shortage of incredible destinations right here in our own backyard! The perfect destination is out there, from nature paradises like Yosemite National Park and Grand Teton National Park to vibrant and bustling cities like Las Vegas and New York City.

These are just a few popular destinations in the US to inspire your next fun getaway in this beautiful country!

1. Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park is a scenic escape and ranks sixth for the most visited national park in the US.

Located in Arizona, this unique and beautiful national park is home to the colorful Grand Canyon and winding Colorado River. Within its sprawling landscape, Grand Canyon National Park offers a slew of activities for timid explorers and adventurous travelers alike.

Tour the canyon from the comfort of your car on the Grand Canyon drive. Visitors can take advantage of several viewpoints along the way to look out over the magnificent stone cliffs. 

To experience the views up close, you can take cave system tours, go mountain biking along the Rainbow Rim Trail, or raft along the Colorado River. Whatever ways you wish to explore this national park, you’re sure to find the style that best suits you. And more importantly, helps to preserve the park and its natural wildlife for years to come!

The park also offers a unique opportunity to experience Native American culture through museums, reconstructed dwellings, and village ruins. But native tribes aren’t just part of the past in this national park; several tribes still call the Grand Canyon home, including the Havasupai Tribe. 

Pro-tip: If you want to go for a swim and snap pics of gorgeous waterfalls like Havasu Falls, be sure to make a reservation!

It’s not a stretch to say that this park is one of the best places to visit in the US. Though Yosemite National Park may give it a run for its money. 

Whether you’re new to exploring nature or a seasoned pro at conquering the best the great outdoors have to offer, this park will be a featured trip for years to come.

2. Maui

Does it get any better than cascading waterfalls, world-famous beaches, and gorgeous sunsets—we don’t think so!

Known as “The Valley Isle,” Maui is one of the best places to visit for a dream getaway. Condé Nast Traveler readers even ranked it number four among the US’s top islands. It’s not hard to see why this tropical haven might be considered a gem among travelers.

Breathtaking views and hidden beaches are just some of the endless wonders to explore on the island.

Some Maui highlights:

  • Take a picnic on Kamaole Beach Park III.
  • Check out the red sand at Kaihalulu Beach.
  • Camp in Waiʻānapanapa State Park.
    • Follow hiking trails leading to black lava sand and tide pools that turn crimson several times a year.

And that’s just scratching the surface.

A scenic drive along the Hana Highway will allow you to traverse Maui’s east coast in-depth. Amazing stop-offs include bamboo forests, dramatic waterfalls, swimming pools, cliff jumps, and more.

The adventures don’t end. Go on a tour of Maui’s unique farms from pineapple to coffee, take a whale-watching cruise off the island’s west coast, and check out big wave surfing on Pe’ahi Beach, or as surfers began calling it, Jaws Beach.

Delight in fresh seafood on an island that prides itself on its cuisine, take in the sunset from Haleakala National Park, and enjoy Maui’s laid-back nightlife scene.

Nature lovers, beach enthusiasts, and anyone looking for an idyllic escape will delight in all Maui has to offer.

3. Lake Tahoe

If you’re looking for a small-town getaway, look no further than Lake Tahoe, nestled between California and Nevada. 

One of the best places to visit in the US, visitors will find a fun range of activities, from family-friendly hotels with skiing and gondola rides to more adult-themed casinos and nude beaches.

One of the greatest advantages Lake Tahoe possesses is its versatility. Snowy slopes draw in crowds during the winter while outdoor recreation in the summer is unmatched. The two states along Lake Tahoe also provide different experiences, from California’s laid-back relaxation to Nevada’s buzzing social scene.

That’s not to say you can go wrong with either side. Both California and Nevada boast skiing, golf courses, exceptional food, and fun shopping experiences.

However, California’s side of Lake Tahoe may offer the best places to visit if you’re looking to capitalize on all the fantastic outdoor activities. 

The lure of state parks like Emerald Bay can’t be beaten. You’ll find stunning views and hiking trails that pass through scenic mountains, gorgeous falls, and so much more. So, relax on the beach in the summer heat, appreciate the local wildlife—maybe catch a glimpse of a bear—, and, of course, you can’t forget all the activities out on the water! 

Meanwhile, those looking for a bit more Las Vegas-style fun can head on over to the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe. Just a stone’s throw away, you’ll encounter a livelier version of those activities and more.

Test your luck in the casinos, view the beauty of the lake from Nevada’s shores, and cap off days of fun in the sun with Nevada’s wild nightlife.

What Is the #1 Vacation Destination in the World?

Based on Next Vacay’s research, the #1 vacation destination in the world is a tie between Abu Dhabi and Rome. From Abu Dhabi’s high-tech modernism to Rome’s extraordinary history, these two diverse cities saw a very similar interest from Americans looking to travel abroad.

The capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi is a modern city surrounded by desert dunes. 

Sitting on the coast of the UAE, this part-island city is a marvel of innovation, architectural feats, and natural wonders. Visitors can bask in awe at the size and beauty of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, enjoy the fun at parks like Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld, and appreciate the impressive views from spots like Corniche Beach and Observation Deck at 300. 

You’ll find plenty of gorgeous beaches and stunning museums, along with parks, palaces, and more to keep your stay busy from beginning to end.

Almost four thousand miles away sits the birthplace of the Ancient Roman Empire. Present-day Rome is an ode to the beauty of its past and the liveliness of its present. 

Rome is an ideal destination for history buffs and sightseers alike. Visitors can wander the city appreciating some of the most lauded architectural wonders in the world—many of them located within walking distance of each other!

Famous sights are everywhere. However, visitors can’t leave without stopping by legendary spots like the Colosseum, the theatre in which ancient gladiators once battled, the Pantheon, one of the best-preserved buildings from ancient Rome, and the Trevi Fountain, a beautiful baroque-style fountain that has featured in popular Hollywood films like Roman Holiday.

Speaking of, this is undoubtedly the best place to have your own Roman holiday soaking in the history and beauty of this magical city. 

Where to Go on Vacation Abroad: Top 3 Destinations

There are few places you can go wrong when picking a destination abroad. No matter what you’re looking for—adventure, ancient ruins, or scenic tours—you can find something to fit your style in just about every country around the world.

Taken from Next Vacay’s list of popular hotspots around the globe, here are the cities following Abu Dhabi and Rome that travelers can’t wait to explore.

1. Bangalore

The capital of Karnataka, Bengaluru—or Bangalore as it’s more commonly known in English-speaking countries—is the third largest in the nation. In a sprawling country like India, that stat is impressive!

Home to tech companies, top engineering universities, and a thriving startup community, Bangalore has been referred to as the “Silicon Valley of India.” 

But the city has much more to offer than business portfolios. 

Bangalore is a thriving metropolis. What it lacks in historical landmarks, it more than makes up for in its modern culture, from lively cafes to hip microbreweries.

That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of stunning architectural buildings to visit. Bangalore has a fair amount of attractions that garner their due attention, including Bangalore Palace, Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace, St. Mary’s Basilica, and Sri Someshwara Swamy Temple to name a few.

It may be a tech hub, but Bangalore is no slouch in the green department either. Referred to as the “Garden City,” nowhere is that moniker more apt than deep in the city’s parks. These range from historic public parks to national parks with elephants and Bengalese tigers.

Cubbon Park is one that covers a lot of ground, literally, housing everything from art galleries and temples to state buildings and children’s train rides. And, of course, there’s plenty of lush greenery to go around.

Trendy boutiques offer a delightful shopping experience, and you’re sure to find souvenirs of your trip on Commercial Street or score beautiful textiles in Chickpet. 

And don’t forget to enjoy South Indian dining at its finest.

2. Dubai

Set between the desert and the sea, Dubai boasts a fantastic blend of Arab culture and futuristic innovation. 

Among its cultural roots—most visible in places like Al Fahidi Historical District, Al Noor Mosque, and Grand Bur Dubai Masjid—Dubai has built a unique city of modern comforts that looks to the future more than anywhere else.

Few cities seem to live by the motto “go big or go home,” more than Dubai. This metropolis goes full tilt to deliver some of the world’s most stunning engineering marvels: 

  • Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest skyscraper
  • Cayan Tower – the world’s twistiest tower
  • Address Beach Resort – the world’s highest infinity pool
  • Deep Dive Dubai – the world’s deepest indoor pool
  • XLine Dubai Marina – the world’s longest urban zipline

This list doesn’t even cover all of them! Just added to the incredible marvels with its 2021 opening is Ain Dubai, now the largest Ferris Wheel and observation deck in the world.

And Dubai’s over-the-top grandeur doesn’t stop there. The shopping experience here is unlike any other, with massive malls that offer unique experiences. The themed Ibn Battuta Mall, named for the famous explorer and divided into six sections modeled after the regions he traveled, is a popular spot for tourists. 

Take in the staggering floral art in Dubai’s Miracle Garden and enjoy the spectacle of the choreographed Dubai Fountain.

Stunning beaches, luxury hotels, and fun-packed amusement parks along with camel rides, quad biking, and stargazing across the open desert skies, make it no wonder Dubai is seen as one of the best places to visit in the Middle East.

Suffice to say, the city may sleep, but you’ll never want to close your eyes for fear of missing out on one of these wondrous experiences.

3. Nice

In the 1800s, this beautiful coastal city was a retreat for European elites. Two centuries later, Nice still hasn’t lost its charm with foreigners. It continues to attract visitors from all over the world to its shore. 

And it’s no mystery why that is.

Undeniably one of the best places to visit along the French Riviera, the sun-soaked city of Nice is beloved for its balmy weather, captivating coastline, marvelous views, and charming streets.

The Promenade des Anglais stretches for more than four miles along Nice’s coast, providing unimpeded views of the glittering waters Nice is known for. 

A walk along the promenade will chart a course for exploring several of Nice’s attractions. History lovers will adore Old Nice and its pastel buildings, along with seventeenth-century museums like Musée du Palais Lascaris. 

If you’re looking to take in the sights quickly, biking or rollerblading might be right up your alley—just watch out for pedestrians!

Speaking of sports, how do canyoning, cliff jumping, and white water rafting out in Canyon Park sound? Or, head just outside of Nice to Mercantour National Park where nature lovers can enjoy scenic hiking trails, glistening lakes, and breathtaking mountain passes.

Plenty of delicious foods, decadent wines, and buzzing nightlife cap this city off as a must-visit European destination.

Where Is the Cheapest Place to Vacation?

If you’re looking for the cheapest place to vacation in the US, look no further than our nation’s national parks! Specifically, Glacier National Park offers up a wide range of experiences for far less than you’ll spend traveling around other tourist spots in the US.

Glacier National Park has an inexpensive park entrance fee that delivers access to the park and its abundance of free activities, including sightseeing, incredible hiking trails, extraordinary lakes, and beautiful wildflower fields. In addition, cheap camping fees and reasonable hotel rates mean you can enjoy Glacier National Park without worrying about the dent it’ll put in your budget.

For more cheap vacations in the US, we also recommend the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., which also boasts a slew of free attractions like the Smithsonian museums, the National Mall, the National Zoo, and the Library of Congress. The city also offers superb dining experiences, architectural wonders, and more.

For cheap vacations abroad, we recommend visiting Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. While there are more affordable places to visit in Asia, flights to Bangkok are frequently more reasonably priced, which means getting to your destination won’t eat up your budget. Once there, you can enjoy the sights of incredible Buddhist temples, the smells of Thai street food, and the thrill of Muy Thai boxing matches. This city treats all your senses, and you’ll be shocked by how little you end up spending in this remarkable city.

Find the Cheapest Airfare for Your Next Vacation

With so many fun, popular, and cheap destinations to visit worldwide, the only question left in your mind is likely how to get there. And lucky for you, Next Vacay has you covered!

When it comes to flying halfway around the world, you don’t have to break the bank. In fact, Next Vacay is here to ensure that doesn’t happen. 

With a team of savvy deal hunters tracking down the latest airfare deals and filtering through to deliver the very best in money-saving flights to your inbox, all you’ll have to worry about is planning the trip of your dreams. 

Get immediate access to Next Vacay’s team and the latest deals available in your area from the moment you sign up. You’ll be able to rest easy knowing that your travel needs are taken care of and wondering why you didn’t do it sooner.

So, join the Next Vacay family, and let us make your next vacation a reality.