How do you Decide Where to Travel?

I always have a long list of places where I want to travel, and it seems like my list is always getting longer instead of shorter. More times than not, I’ll listen to a podcast and they’ll discuss a place I hadn’t really considered going to before, but by the end, I’m convinced I must go there! Or I’ll read something online and see beautiful photos and add that place to my list. Sometimes a good deal on airfare will come up and I’ll snag the deal and make plans to go there even if it might not have been at the top of my list.

Often I wonder how other people choose where they travel to. Do they go to places near-by or do they go to Disney every year with their kids? Do they go to places where they always went as a kid and it’s just become a habit? Do their spouses or friends mostly choose where to go and they’re just along for the ride? Do they only have enough vacation time to visit family? Or is it something else?

Grand Cayman Island exceeded my expectations and was a perfect choice for a beach trip in November

At the beginning I said I have a long list of places where I want to travel, but that’s not really correct. Actually I have three lists for travel:  one includes states in the United States where I haven’t run a half marathon yet, the second includes places where my husband and I are considering to retire early, and the third includes places where I’d like to go and visit but not necessarily live there.

My first list is short and sweet and thankfully getting shorter. It includes Nebraska, New Mexico, Iowa, and Minnesota. I already have half marathons chosen for these states (although the race in Minnesota could change) and because I like to add on a vacation after the race to turn it into a racecation, I already know which city I’ll be going to in Nebraska (Omaha).  I have a pretty good idea about Minnesota, New Mexico, and Iowa, but those aren’t quite as firm as the other states yet. I’ll  be going to Albuquerque, New Mexico and possibly Santa Fe, probably St. Paul in Minnesota, and probably Cedar Rapids in Iowa. If you have suggestions for things to check out including restaurants in any of these areas, feel free to suggest them below.

After running in the Famous Potato Half Marathon in Boise, Idaho, we stayed in the area for a few days and hiked in gorgeous places like this!

My second list includes areas both in and out of the US that are places that my husband and I are checking out as places to retire. A big factor in choosing these areas are the weather, in addition to general location, safety and cost of living. I’ll admit I’m like Goldilocks in that I prefer to live somewhere that’s not too hot and not too cold when I retire. I also like proximity to beaches and mountains if possible and within a reasonable drive to an airport. Currently, this list includes places like southern Portugal and Spain, Ecuador, parts of Central America, as well as places in Oregon and Florida.

My husband and I would also consider living in one place for the winter months and driving (even if was a big distance but could be done in several days with breaks) to another place for the summer months. This potential dual-home idea includes places in the US and Europe. I feel like while I’ve been to the majority of the US, there are huge areas of Europe that I’ve never been to. If you have a suggestion for somewhere in Europe, Central, or South America that would check off the boxes I’ve listed here, let me know and I’ll add it to my list of places to check out. Spanish-speaking places are not a problem for us

Finally, my third list, the solely for fun list includes places like the Republic of Georgia, Slovenia, Croatia, Thailand, Vancouver, and on and on. This list is very long and seems to be growing longer all the time. The places on this list haven’t taken a priority because of the other two lists, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to go there any less. I’ve been dying to go to the Republic of Georgia for several years.

The Canary Islands is a place we wanted to check out as a potential place to retire

Once I finish my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states, my priority will be in choosing places on the list for potential retirement spots. Even though my husband and I plan to retire early, we still have about 11 years until that will happen. This gives us plenty of time to go to places we’re considering multiple times, during different times of the year and visiting different neighborhoods within the areas we’re considering. We have flexibility, though, because we have plenty of time, and I’ll be able to watch for airfare deals and choose according to them more than I currently do.

I know that my family and I don’t travel like most people do. Over the years we’ve been to many places that most people wouldn’t necessarily choose but yet we haven’t been to some of the more popular places. For example, we’ve been to New Zealand but not Australia. We’ve been to Austria but not France. We went to Chile but didn’t go to Patagonia. Yes, we travel a bit differently than most Americans but then again there has always been a reason why we’ve chosen to travel where we have, such as I got a deal on airfare or lodging. Or New Zealand looks freaking amazing and how could we NOT go there?!

Just one of many incredible views we saw in New Zealand

This brings me back to my original question:  How do you choose where you travel?

Happy travels!




Author: runningtotravel

I'm a long distance runner with a goal of running a half marathon in all 50 states in the US, which I completed in 2021. I also love to travel so I travel to other places when I'm not running races. Half the fun is planning where I'm going to go next!

23 thoughts on “How do you Decide Where to Travel?”

  1. Ocean City, Maryland for a few days is pretty much a given for me as the only year I haven’t gone was when Jason and I took our first cruise in 2013 and that was ok since it was to islands. I basically have a rule that I have to go to a beach once a year and since Ocean City is close, cheap and we like it, it just works out to go.

    Growing up my family didn’t have the resources to travel anywhere besides Ocean City and maybe a theme park. We did get to Disney World when I was in 5th grade with my grandparents in their motorhome and stayed at Fort Wilderness. Once I met Jason my traveling expanded a bit more though not nearly as extensive as yours. He claims that I choose all the trips though in my defense our Chicago friends picked out our last cruise (New England/Canada) and he loved and in 2014 he originally said we were going to Cherry Springs state park for a trip then about a month before decided he didn’t want to and I was left scrambling to come up with another idea so we went to Washington DC. I did pick New Orleans this year but told him he can pick any/all the trips next year. He’s one of the most indecisive people I know though, so I have a sneaky feeling I’ll be indirectly planning it by giving him a few options and saying pick one!

    New Zealand is a bucket list trip for me as I am a huge Lord of the Rings nerd. I’m currently reading There and Back Again: An Actors Tale by Sean Astin and it’s making me want to go even more. I really am not a fan of the 20+ hour flight though as I’ve only flown twice with the longest one being from Chicago to Portland. Jason and I have also been browsing 2+ week cruises for fun as we think cruising is a great way to see different places without the hassle of booking hotels/figuring out transportation. That said you don’t get the full immersion of each place as I would’ve loved to have stayed longer in Halifax, Nova Scotia!

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    1. I like the routine of going to the same beach place every year too. For many years we went to Charleston, SC for our beach trip but then one year we didn’t. I still like to go there though and I have no doubt we’ll be back.

      Regarding New Zealand, yes, it’s a long expensive flight, but once you get there, it’s the most beautiful place in the world and you’ll be so glad you went. We broke up the flight going there and back by spending the night in California, and that helped quite a bit really. Hobbiton is even better than you imagine it is, as is the entire country of New Zealand to be honest, or at least that’s my opinion. For me, when I looked up some photos, that’s all it took to get me on a plane there!

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        1. It’s roughly 5 1/2 to 6 hours to fly from NY to LA or San Francisco, which is pretty substantial and can make a difference in breaking up a long flight if you’re going past California. I’ve also done that when flying to/from Hawaii.

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  2. That’s such a hard question to answer. Our last trip (to England/Wales) was for a long overdue visit to see my in-laws, so sometimes that’s the driving force. Other times it has to do with what meets certain criteria like distance, direct flights, and warm weather. These were some of the criteria I used to decide where to go for a fall getaway and for a few spring break trips, all of which were shorter in duration (4-5 days). Sometimes checking off things from our dust-farm-pail list (aka bucket list) is the motivator. That’s what is driving our trip to Spain/France next summer… so the husband can do the last of the three iconic Tour de France routes on his bike. Other times it’s just a matter of what strikes us as interesting. Newer for us is this consideration: where is there a petsit that looks intriguing? Great, thought-provoking post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice! I like it! I really need to look more into petsitting once I’ve run a half in all 50 states and have more flexibility. I’m allergic to cats. Do you think that would be a problem from the house sits you’ve seen?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The great thing, at least with the company we’re signed up with, is that you can sort by animal. So if you want to search for sits with any animal except this with cats, you can do that. (Frankly, dogs are the most frequent animal needing sitting, in my brief experience.)

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  3. I always have lists of travel destinations too. If you go to New Mexico, I would definitely recommend making the drive up to Santa Fe. It’s worth it! We did the Albuquerque marathon. Old Town in Albuquerque is nice, but Santa Fe is beautiful!

    I think our next destinations are Morocco and Portugal (same trip).

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  4. I have many, many states to go. Definitely go to Santa Fe. Consider Taos, too. NM is actually one of the places we think about retiring to (although we’ve only been there once).

    I would go to New Zealand over Australia, although I’d like to go to both!

    All our European travels were due to my husand’s work travel — so sometimes odd places like Delft, but it also got us to Paris. 🙂

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    1. I hadn’t put much consideration into Taos even though I hear it’s beautiful, but I just looked it up and it’s not that far from Santa Fe. I may have to look into that further.

      That’s a huge perk being able to go to Europe for your husband’s work. I’ve found some of the best places are the odd places you otherwise wouldn’t have considered.

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  5. Hmm my family has no list. I’d usually ask my kids and hubby what they want to do, and i’d come up with a few suggestions. Like last year, my youngest son wanted to see a car factory, my teen wants to snowboard and my hubby wants to have gluhwein at a beer garden, and I thought I’d want a traditional
    Christmas. That’s how we came up with Bavaria and Austria last year. I totally agree with you, Donna, New Zealand is amazing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly. My younger son was just asking me yesterday if it’s possible to go to the arctic circle. And my teen was saying it’d be good if he could see some UK universities . So, sounds like England and Finland would be a good idea. ☺️

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