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How to Find the Best Things to Do on Vacation

Nov 12, 2019

This blog post was updated November 19, 2019.

If you’re like logistics of your trip. In other words, how will you get from Point A to Point B without breaking the bank? Your time off is precious, and you’ll want to maximize every moment of your vacation. 

If all that sounds overwhelming, we’ve got your back! In this feature, we’ve outlined a simple method for finding the best things to do on a trip, no matter your destination.

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Step 1: Pick your priorities

There’s a huge world out there, and conquering it requires a plan. As you consider where to go for your next vacation, start with the factors that matter most to you.

Take a look at the options below, and try to determine which two or three resonate with your vision for the trip. Be sure to keep in mind that focusing on too many of these factors may make it difficult for you to plan your trip. 

Cost

Whether you’re a college student, a new parent, or a retiree, it helps to make every dollar count. Fortunately, there are free and cheap activities in every destination; it’s just a matter of finding them.

Time

In any trip, time is key. Your vacation days are numbered, so it’s important to plan carefully and truly savor that “out of office” time. 

Travel Companions

Cultivating the perfect #travelsquad is equal parts art and science. But getting your group together is only just the beginning. You’ll want to find the right activities to keep everyone happy, and that begins with a conversation.

Relaxation

You work hard, and your next trip can be the perfect opportunity to hit refresh. Relaxation could be as simple as reading a book in a city park or as elaborate as a week-long spa retreat — what matters is choosing the right experience.

Adrenaline

You’re someone who doesn’t settle for the ordinary. You’re a thrill-seeker, a daredevil, and an adrenaline junkie. You’re open for anything, as long as it takes your breath away.

Curiosity

The world is expansive and begging to be explored. For you, travel is the perfect opportunity for personal growth. You can learn about new cultures, regions, and ideas, thereby expanding your imagination.

Connection

In your opinion, the best part about travel is meeting new friends from around the world. As a social butterfly, finding ways to mingle with locals and swap stories with fellow travelers is essential.

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Step 2: Research your Destination

Here’s the fun part. Take your top factors from above, and make them into a mad-libs-style internet search. For example, if I picked “cost” and “travel companions” as my top priorities, I might search for the following:

  • Low-cost girls getaways
  • Affordable family vacations
  • Best trips for groups on a budget

Google is an excellent starting point, but you can take your search even further by plugging your key terms into different online platforms (see our list below). 

When picking a platform, think about how you learn best. Would you prefer to watch a video of a destination, or read about it in your favorite travel blog? Would you like to learn from the experts, or will you crowd-source your decision by reading reviews from ordinary travelers?

If you’re not sure, sample a few different platforms, and see what you like best.

TripAdvisor

You didn’t think we’d make a list of resources without mentioning TripAdvisor, did you? The world’s largest travel platform, TripAdvisor hosts more than 795 million reviews on 8.4 million attractions, accommodations, and transportation providers.

All you have to do is type in a destination, and you’ll receive a list of all the best things to see and do (and those to avoid!)

The “Blogosphere”

We might be a little biased, but travel blogs are a great way to get first-hand knowledge from seasoned adventurers on how to plan a trip overseas. There are hundreds of thousands of blogs to choose from, so it’s especially helpful to find a blogger with similar interests and travel preferences. To get started, check out some of the blogging “greats”:

Step 3: Decide on the Details

As you research how to plan a trip abroad, start jotting down the destinations, attractions, and experiences that excite you most. At first, be generous – anything that seems even remotely interesting can get added to the list.

Once you’ve included as many items as you can, you’ll want to take a break and revisit your list in a few days. When you’ve had a chance to review everything with fresh eyes, think about the top three items that excite you the most. Do those items align with your priorities from step 1? 

Now is also a time to bring in any family or friends who will be traveling with you. See what types of activities excite them, and imagine how they might fit in with your top picks. 

Finally, think about the logistics of your trip. Can you successfully visit all of your favorite attractions in the amount of time you have for your trip? How much will everything cost?

This part of the planning process isn’t easy, but fear not! There are plenty of tools that can help.

(Bonus!) While you’re there

You’ve made your plans and packed your bags – now all that’s left is for you to enjoy your vacation. The best travel plans are those that have a little bit of wiggle-room built in. As great as online research is, don’t be afraid to ask your Airbnb host, your hotel concierge, or the person next to you on the train for their ideas and recommendations.

And above all, give yourself a chance to explore on your own. Wander into that unusual store, ask for the chef’s choice at a local restaurant, and spend an afternoon doing whatever brings you joy. Sometimes, the best travel resource is your own intuition. 

About the Author

Grace Lower

Grace Lower has a love for writing and an incurable case of wanderlust. When she's not exploring new places, Grace enjoys teaching English as a Second Language, making terrible puns, and running incredibly long distances at incredibly slow speeds.

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