Worst Part of Limited Vacation Time? How to Choose Where to Travel Next

How to Choose Where to Travel Next

Where oh where oh where should we go on our next trip? How to decide where to travel next.
Where oh where should we go on our next trip?

Tom and I have decided we’re going to use some of our valuable vacation time to go on a trip this winter. There’s just one small problem: We’re having a hard time deciding where to go. How to choose where to travel next has monopolized our minds.

For clarity sake, a big trip for us is around two weeks. Maybe someday we’ll move to Europe and get a month off like those smart folks, but for now big means something we can fit into 14 days. This means having to decide between all the locations we want to go to and picking just one.

My top pick, Machu Picchu, is out because it will be the rainy season when we want to go. The rest of South America is also out because each country is too expansive and expensive to get around when time is short.

New Zealand came up as Tom studied there in college and he has always wanted to go back. I would love to go there so that became the new front runner.

Then we looked at plane tickets. Way too expensive. So New Zealand was out. But we were onto something. Let’s just go abroad wherever we can find the most inexpensive tickets – relatively speaking. Munich was pretty affordable to fly to, but once we got there it would be expensive to eat, sleep, etc. India came up, but my sister is planning on moving to Nepal sometime in the next year so I felt we should lump that into a trip when we visit her.

Before we knew it we were to Southeast Asia. This wouldn’t be a problem, except that’s where we went last year and shouldn’t we try somewhere new? But last time we went to Thailand and Cambodia, and we both really want to go to Vietnam – which we had cut out last year due to time constraints. Tickets to Vietnam were affordable and we could also visit Laos, which we had heard wonderful things about from other backpackers in Thailand.

It was decided. We’d go to Vietnam and Laos and buy tickets when I got back from Montana.

Then…tickets to New Zealand dropped.

Our original option was now viable! Except…we had already started researching the Vietnam/Laos trip and I was getting excited about Halong Bay and Luang Prabang and visiting an elephant sanctuary in Northern Laos.

Yet I had heard for years from Tom how beautiful and fun New Zealand is. It’s his favorite place in the world and we could just rent a car, travel around the country at our own pace, and explore the land; drink wine, hike trails, explore glaciers, and meander around the cities and towns situated amongst New Zealand’s mountains and shore line.

We spent three hours last night debating which part of the world to go to. No decision. Ticket prices are going up. We have to decide. NOW. But it’s way too hard. See, this is why people take extended time off from careers to go RTW. So what to do with their two weeks of vacation don’t begin to feel like the most important decision in the world. I know, I know, it’s not. The most important decision is when I’m going to quit my job and travel the world. (Kidding, Tom….sort of.)

But in all seriousness, right now, for two travel lovers, it is a big decision. Should we just flip a coin? Should we give it a week and let the fate of airline prices decide for us? I even went to Barnes and Noble today to buy a Lonely Planet book on New Zealand, hoping it would shed light on the situation (we already have a Southeast Asia guidebook). No such luck; still can’t decide.

How do you typically pick one destination over another when you travel and decide how to choose where to travel next?


  1. says

    I try to narrow it down by figuring out which one I’ll have a better chance of a taking a future trip. Of course, New Zealand and Southeast Asia are pretty similar in that regard, so the backup factor would be cost and where can I get the most bang for the buck. I think that one goes to SE Asia…

    • Gina says

      That’s a good way of looking at it! We’ve been crunching a lot of numbers trying to figure this out.

  2. says

    You shouldn’t discount Machu Picchu during rainy season (also wrote about it if you want to see the photos from it on my site). I was there last year during rainy season and it’s a steal. There are no crowds so you can go to Cusco and get a tour for 1/10 of what it would cost at home.

    The only thing I’d say is that hiking it would be terrible. I just took the train up the night before. Took the first bus in that morning and was one of the first in so I was able to climb Waynapicchu to take the iconic pic. Take a poncho but it doesn’t start raining until the afternoon when you would want to go home anyway.

    • Gina says

      Hi Ayngelina, thanks for the info! That’s great to know, however we really want to hike the Inca trail so will probably hold off on going until after the rainy season. Hoping to make it there next year, though!

  3. says

    It’s really tough. I still have my full time job and so I also have to decide when and where the big trips are going to be. We want to see SO many places, that deciding where to actually go when we have more than a long weekend has become tougher and tougher. I’d go to New Zealand in your situation. Southeast Asia is going to continue to be inexpensive. You can go there on your next vacation!

  4. says

    When in doubt, always choose NEW ZEALAND. With two weeks, I’d just do the South Island. If you needed more convincing, just look at Shauna and Gareth’s blog. They roamed New Zealand for a year, and I got to share a week with them in Queenstown. Here’s a link to their old blog with their year in NZ: http://roughleyoriginals.myfotojournal.com/

    They’re since back in Canada and making a living as wedding/portrait photographers.

    Let me know what you decide!

    • Gina says

      Thanks for the link, Leah! Definitely going to check it out. I think we’re getting closer to a decision. Going to decide tonight, but it’s looking good for New Zealand at this point. 😉

  5. says

    It’s always a tough decision with limited vacation time. That’s why Q & I quit our jobs.
    But in our experience, Our winter is one of the best times to visit Vietnam because of their dry season. You can do plenty there within 2 weeks.
    New Zealand was great for us as well. We had a month to drive from north to south though, and even that felt rushed, so I would agree with Leah and focus on the South, even though you still might have to fly into Auckland for the cheapest price. If you really want to do NZ, just do it. There’s never the perfect time to go. What better time is now? I doubt it’s going to get any cheaper, as prices for everything are always rising. Just my 2 cents.

    • Gina says

      Thanks for the input Gerard! I think you’re absolutely right about not putting off New Zealand. Stay tuned for a future blog post… 😉

  6. says

    we go where the flight deals are, especially if it’s an international trip. with some good fares to Scandinavia next year, we’re making a trip to Denmark. sure, it’s expensive once you’re there, but we saved by getting a good flight. :-)

  7. says

    I agree–it is so hard to decide where to go with limited vacation! I always have the same problem–my husband isn’t restricted to vacation time as he works for himself, so thankfully we just have my vacation time (only 13 days!) to worry about. I usually look into the destinations that are more challenging/expensive and see if I can make it work by getting a good deal or by using airline miles. We try to to take 1-2 longer trips and then some weekend getaways throughout the year just to break things up a little. I am already trying to decide on destinations for 2014 though, so I don’t know if it’s working!! :)

    • Gina says

      2014! I’m also scared to think that far ahead. :) It’s so hard to fit it all in. We all need jobs like your husband!

  8. says

    I always feel so bad for people who work in corporate America and have limited vacation time. A friend of mine visited me in Kenya and had to use one of her two week’s of yearly vacation for the trip. She was jetlagged, and exhausted and felt like she had to cram so much into one week. It was hardly a vacation in my mind. Can’t wait to hear what you choose!

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