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Where In The World?: Choosing Where to Go on Vacation

by Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Featured Columnist
Last modified 01/07/2010

The world is packed with many wonderful and varied places to visit and it's pretty unlikely that, try as you might, you'll ever be able to see them all, so how on earth do you pick where you do go for your precious vacation time?

There are many ways of deciding, but perhaps the most important consideration, and also the most realistic, is to first look at the budget and time available to you. If you've only got a few days, then you may want to stay quite close to home or you may choose to fly somewhere that's within in a couple of hours of your home. If you've only got a long weekend, for example, you may not like the idea of flying for hours and experiencing jetlag. I know we always say that, whenever we fly to the States, which is at least a seven hour flight, it's not worth going for anything less than a week, as we usually lose the first day or so to jetlag.

Obviously, if you fly, you can get farther afield in a such period of time, but if driving is the only option open to you, for whatever reason, that may limit the possibilities for you to a lot closer to home.

Money's also an important issue, as you can only work with the budget that's available to you. If you only have a small amount of money, then a round-the-world trip just isn't going to be financially viable, no matter how much you try! However, there are deals to be had, especially if you book at the last minute or use low-cost airlines, so don't rule things out, until you've explored your options thoroughly. You may be pleasantly surprised at the prices you can find online, with a bit of hunting around.

Don't forget as well that if you want to head abroad out of your own country, you'll need up to date travel documents, especially a passport. Many countries won't allow you to enter if you only have six months or less remaining on your passport, so if you are considering foreign climes, it's worth checking those details out before you get too far into your planning.

Perhaps your destination will be decided by something that's going on there. You may want to visit somewhere when they have major celebrations that they're famous for. Chicago is well known for its St. Patrick's Day celebrations, while Times Square is very much the place to be seen at the dawn of each new year or for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

Weather's another important consideration, particularly if you're affected by exceptionally high or low temperatures. There's no way I'd even think about going to many places in the middle of the summer, as I know they'd be too hot for me. Remember as well that cities can seem much, much hotter than coastal locations, with their additional buildings that hold the heat in. At least on the coast, you do get more of a breeze to take the edge off the heat.

Equally, many places close down during the cold winter months. If you want to head into some of the national parks for example, such as Yellowstone or Yosemite, you really want to be visiting those between the spring and the autumn, with many roads closing due to snow during the winter months. You may also find more flight delays as the weather gets colder, so keep that in mind, as you plan. There's nothing worse than being stranded by extreme weather, when you have to be back home for an urgent family or business commitment.

Another thing to think about when it comes to weather is extreme conditions, such as hurricanes, tornadoes or even typhoons, depending where in the world you plan to visit. It's always worth checking on the usual season for such events. Some people are very happy to travel during these times of the year, as you'll often be able to snag a bargain, but others, like ourselves, would prefer to avoid any extreme weather at all cost!

Now you've considered all of those things, you may have considerably narrowed your choices down. If that hasn't helped, it's worth thinking about what type of vacation you actually want. Do you want to just relax and do as little as possible or do you want to explore somewhere? We love to explore, so city breaks are perfect for us, with lots to see and do to help keep us occupied, but for others, a week on the beach may be much more suitable and may help to refresh you. Perhaps you prefer to be active and exploring natural areas, in which case national parks could be a great choice, especially if you enjoy hiking.

Personal recommendations can also be really helpful. I've lost track of the amount of places we've decided we have to visit one day, because of the experiences of others. The PassPorter message boards even have their own Globetrotting Trip Reports section, which is a great place to seek inspiration. People have documented their trips from literally all over the world over the last few years, with Alaskan cruises, visits to South America, the Far East, and many parts of Europe and mainland America all explored by PassPorter members. The only problem with this is it can make your list of "must-do" places rapidly expand to a point where you realize that it would take decades to cross everything off!

Another reason to go away can be to visit family or friends. My parents-in-law now have a villa in the south of Spain that we visit and we're lucky enough to have friends scattered across America that we can visit, whenever we get the chance.

There's no one way of picking what to do on your vacation. The most important thing is to ensure that you do what works for you. Only then will you be able to enjoy a truly relaxing time.

About the Author: Cheryl is the author of the e-book, PassPorter's Walt Disney World for British Holidaymakers, and is the co-author of PassPorter's Disney Vacation Club Guide: For Members and Members-To-Be. Cheryl and husband Mark live in England and love to travel, particularly to Disney, and they have travelled around the world, taking in a number of Disney cruises, Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani in Hawai'i, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney and Hong Kong Disneyland on the way. Click here to view more of Cheryl's articles!

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Updated 01/07/2010

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