Weigh your travel options up against your time & budget

The Merits of Travel-Heather Malazdrewicz
The Merits of Travel-Heather Malazdrewicz

You’ve decided you want to take time off to travel – but where to? Romantic Italy, exotic Thailand? Thrilling New Zealand, or rugged South America? Each country has its own buzz word to entice you.
Determining which country you want to visit may merit a bit more consideration than closing your eyes and spinning a globe. Advance planning is the key to finding the destination that suits you, so start by asking yourself a few questions.
How much money do I have?
Your travel budget is one of the most important aspects of trip planning. Make sure to take into account how much you will spend a day; you don’t want to run out of money halfway through your trip and have to call home to ask someone to wire you cash.
How much time do I have?
This will determine if you have time to visit a few countries, or if you should just concentrate on one country.
What do I want to see and experience?
Do you want an active vacation where you can hike or cycle, or more of a cultural experience where you do a homestay with a local family?
What time of year can I go?
This can affect the cost of your airline ticket. Determine what the weather may be like at the destination, as well as how busy attractions may be. Or you may want to tailor your vacation around a particular festival or local holiday.
Will I travel on my own, with a friend, or on a tour?
On your own, you can travel at your own pace and you have the freedom to do what you want, when you want. If travelling with a friend, make sure you are both on the same page for what you want to see and do. With a tour, someone else looks after all the logistics for you.
If you can answer these questions, it will help you to narrow down your choices.
You’ve picked a destination
The next step is to do some research. Learn what there is so see and do – guide books, such as Eyewitness Travel or Let’s Go are great sources of information. They will list all the essential information you need, including sights to see, maps, accommodation, restaurants, what to pack, and how to get around by local train or bus.
Most countries have their own tourism websites which you can access online, also providing great travel tips. Travel brochures are another great tool to use for research. Look at the itineraries the tour company uses, the sites they stop at, the route they take and the length of time it takes to travel around a particular area.
Talk to friends and family who have travelled. This is a great way to get a first-hand account of a destination; maybe they have a recommendation of a restaurant you just have to try or a unique hostel you should stay at.
And of course a travel agent is a great knowledge source. They’ve likely been to your destination and can compile helpful tips and insights that would take hours to find online.
When it comes to travel planning, they’re the perfect companion: travel consultants can tailor a trip to your needs, budget and interests. They know the less expensive times to fly to a destination, can suggest cost-saving ways to travel around, pre-book a few nights of accommodation for your arrival, and make sure you have the proper documentation you need (and everything else you might need for your trip).
After a little planning, the next step is to take the leap and make your travel dream a reality.
Heather Malazdrewicz is the manager of Merit Travel at the University of Manitoba. She has worked in the travel industry for 24 years, while gaining her own experience of countries all over the world. Merit Travel delivers authentic travel experiences to the world’s top destinations, with help from a team of passionate and dedicated travel consultants at over 25 offices across Canada. For help planning your vacation, contact Heather at HMalazdrewicz@MeritTravel.com, or call 204-269-9530 ext. 6108.

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