a Blog About Adventure Travel for Kite-Surfing and Cycling with a Custom Built Van
How to Choose a Vacation Destination
How to Choose a Vacation Destination

How to Choose a Vacation Destination

How to Choose a Vacation Destination

We try to travel approximately three times per year; one week in the spring, one week in the summer, and two weeks in the winter. As we travel, we collect recommendations from other travelers and add them to our ever growing list. But, how do we choose a vacation destination? When deciding where to travel, there are three main decision factors for us; our vacation preferences, travel time, and budget.

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Table of Contents

Our Travel Options for 2024-2025

  • Sailing in the Caribean
  • Hawaii – Maui and Kauai
  • Turks and Caicos
  • Bonaire
  • St. Lucia
  • Kenya – Diani Beach
  • Union Island
  • Bali
  • Vietnam
  • Fiji
  • Philippians – Cuyo Island
  • Mauritius and Reunion Islands
  • Iceland
  • Fakarrava

Factor #1: Vacation Preferences

So what do I mean by vacation preferences? Well, we both enjoy doing a lot of activities, but every vacation and location has a different purpose. Andrew’s two most important factors are generally wind for kiteboarding and warm weather. Jade’s preferences include warm weather, surfing, hiking, and preferably some type of race (triathlon, marathon, etc.).

We also prefer quiet, less crowded destinations such as beaches, islands, and nature preserves. As a rule, we are not fans of city vacations and touristy activities like museums, walking tours, or shows. City vacations are generally reserved for long weekends, races, or family events.

Vacation destinations
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Factor #2: Travel Time

The first factor we consider when choosing our next adventure is usually how long does it take to get there. If we only have 7 days, we don’t want to spend 4 of those days traveling. However, if we have 16 days to work with, 3-4 days of travel is a bit more practical. For this reason, we generally choose further destinations such as Tahiti, New Zealand, or Thailand for our winter vacations.

For shorter holidays, we try to keep travel time to less than a day in each direction whether we are driving or flying.

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Factor #3: Budget

If we are traveling as a couple, after our wants and timing are taken into consideration, the next factor is figuring out the budget. When comparing vacation destinations, we only consider four pieces of information in our budget; flights/gas, accommodations, transportation upon arrival, and entertainment. I will explain why we don’t consider anything else later under the not in our travel budget section.

Budget Item #1: Flights/Gas

Flights or the price of gas if driving are the first line item in our budget. Since the costs of flights are generally the most expensive piece of our travel budget this is usually the first consideration. When looking for flights it is best to check 3-6 months prior to travel. Anything longer or shorter than that will be inflated.

I know many people have travel hacks for getting the best prices, but honestly we have had the best luck with just using Google Flight tracker. Once you have dates and locations in place, Google will give you a general trend of the price and send you updates if the price goes up or down.

When considering flights, it is also good to check a variety of airports in your area. It might be surprisingly cheaper to fly out of a smaller airport on a smaller airline.

Be sure to add the price of your luggage, when comparing flight costs. We are always traveling with one or two oversized bags for Andrew’s kite gear or Jade’s bike. If there is an additional cost for checked and carry-on bags be sure to put that in your flight comparison.

Flight costs for your vacation destination
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Budget Item #2: Accommodations

Depending on the type of accommodations you prefer, housing might be your first line item. Larger families might find accommodations harder and more expensive to find.

Fortunately as a couple, beautiful and inexpensive accommodations are easier to find. We prefer to rent small houses in an area closer to the activities we are hoping to enjoy. For us, this usually means a house on the beach or near a park.

Since we prefer to shop and eat local, we generally prefer renting a small home on AirBnB or VRBO when we travel. Large hotels and resorts are usually out of our price range and don’t always serve our travel purpose.

As we are setting up our budget and comparing prices, we generally look at three to five homes in each destination and use the average cost for the entire stay in our spreadsheet.

Accommodations at your vacation destination
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Budget Item #3: Transportation

Finally, the most fluctuating of costs are generally in transportation once you arrive. If you are staying in a place that is walkable, you might only need transportation to and from the airport.

However, if you plan on exploring a rental car might be necessary for the duration of your stay.

Additionally, if you are driving to your vacation destination instead of flying, you will already have a car, but parking might be another obstacle upon arrival. City travel will most definitely include a cost for parking. Be sure to check where and how much parking will cost for each vacation destination.

As we are calculating the price of transportation, we also try to keep in mind the type of car needed throughout the week as well as any transportation once there. Often times, we also end up taking a car ferry from one location to another to get to our final destination.

If you plan on using public transportation in your destination, know how it works before you make travel plans as this might affect the cost of your trip significantly, especially if you can’t get to where you want to go!

Budget Item #4: Tours, Lessons, and Entertainment

The final line item in our travel budget is for tours, lessons, and entertainment. When choosing a travel destination, we generally have an idea of some of the activities we hope to experience while visiting. Along with the destination, we also like to have a list of 3-5 activities for each destination.

What are the must do activities when traveling to a specific place? Do you want to go on a guided snorkel tour? Are you taking surf lessons? Do you need a park pass? Are you running in a race? Are you attending a concert? Before making a decision on where you are traveling, get a price estimate for each activity you would like to do.

Not in Our Travel Budget

We don’t include food in our travel budget despite it being a huge part of the cost of traveling. We don’t include the cost of food because it is an expense we would have even if we were to stay at home. Regardless of where we are, we will have to eat. Since we usually choose to stay in accommodations where we cook most of our food anyways, the cost of food while traveling is usually the same or less than when we are at home.

I also recommend when purchasing food that you buy food that is local and in season. If you purchase from local markets, produce stands, and food carts, you will generally have low food costs.

If however you choose to eat out more when you travel, it might be wise to look at the typical price of food at restaurants in the vacation destination of your choice.

How to Choose a Vacation Destination – Final Thoughts

After weighing your options and completing your budget spread sheet, you will have to make a final decision on your own. Is the thirty hour flight worth two weeks of paradise. Are you celebrating a major mile stone and want to go big this year? Is your budget tight and something closer to home would be a better option.

Only you and your partner can make this decision, but make sure you know all of the options available. After creating your budget, you might find out that two weeks on the beach in Tahiti is cheaper than two weeks of van camping in Florida. You never know. It is definitely worth checking.

Safe Travels, Bon Voyage, Gute Reise! ~ KiteBikeVan

Choose a vacation destination
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