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Narrowing Down Your Travel Bucket List

Tips from Experts in the Travel Industry

Take an African safari. See The Great Pyramid of Giza. Dive into the aquamarine ocean from an overwater bungalow in Fiji. Walk the Great Wall of China, hike to Machu Picchu, kiss beneath the Eiffel Tower. There are so many incredible travel experiences that it’s easy to become overwhelmed. With hot new destinations entering the limelight every day, it might feel as if your bucket list is growing by the minute. How will you prioritize where to go first? Read on for tips from the experts. 

Establish expectations

Think about your best vacations. What made them so spectacular for you? Was it seeing famous sites? Off-grid adventure? Low-key leisure time? Thinking about your travel style can help narrow down destinations that don’t match your expectations. Do you gravitate towards activities near the water or on the beach? Choose coastal vacations before landlocked ones. Are you more concerned with clear weather or avoiding crowds? If the weather is more important, rule out destinations where your travel dates fall within the rainy season. Having trouble narrowing down certain sites or places? "I like to search the hashtag for a destination to learn about it as part of my research when I am looking to take a vacation. Browsing pictures from real travelers helps establish authentic expectations for how that vacation might look,” said Mario Nicholas, Sales and Operations Director at Travel Leaders Group (parent company of Vacation.com).

Browsing pictures from real travelers helps establish authentic expectations for how that vacation might look.

Also consider the purpose of your vacation; is it a romantic escape for two or a family reunion for 20? Different destinations pose unique features and benefits that cater better to some vacations more than others. “There are a lot of travel mini-trends— eco-tourism, interactive cultural experiences, multigenerational trips—ultimately the trip has to make sense for you. Daydreaming is the first step,” said Eva Braiman, Senior Manager of Customer Experience & Sales Enablement, Travel Leaders Group.

Reassess your budget

It’s important to establish a budget as part of the vacation-planning process, but it’s also important to remember that you get what you pay for, and that considering all the extras can play a significant role in the general tone of your travels. “People don't always budget for the logistics, they want to think of the fun stuff. The reality is that spending a little extra on things like upgraded accommodations and private transfers makes all the difference in the quality of the overall vacation,” said Tanuj Gupta, Digital Acquisition, Marketing Optimization & Demand Analytics Professional at Travel Leaders Group.

...you've got to be willing to pay more for something truly unique and special.

If you’re planning a vacation for an important occasion—like an anniversary trip or bachelor/bachelorette party—the experience is always worth the upgrade. It’s almost guaranteed that the picture-perfect view on the resort website isn’t the basic room. If you want an extraordinary vacation, consider paying more than the lowest advertised rate. Lori Randle, an experienced travel professional, advises, "if you don’t want the cookie cutter trip, you’ve got to be willing to pay more for something truly unique and special.” 

Enlist a Professional

If you shop online, there’s a good chance you consider the reviews before you make a purchase. Some of us won’t buy anything without them. So why would you book an online vacation without the same insight? The internet is full of eye-catching deals and rock-bottom prices, but without expert guidance or authentic reviews, it’s impossible to tell dirt from diamonds. Plus, an agent can get to know you to provide a customized vacation specific to your needs. "A travel agent knits it all together, the cabin, the transfer, everything,” Ninan Chacko, CEO for Travel Leaders Network, explains. “When you are looking at the experience, think about hand-tailoring a suit versus buying off the rack. One is more expensive because it fits you perfectly.” 

... think about hand-tailoring a suit versus buying off the rack. One is more expensive because it fits you perfectly.

A travel agent provides peace of mind to make sure your money is well-spent. They not only have expertise in your destination, they have special access to amenities and benefits you couldn’t get booking yourself. “Travel agents deal in volumes, which means they have access to all sorts of secret perks. From free upgrades to bonus deals, exclusive amenities and priority booking for the ultra-luxurious presidential suite, the 'good stuff’ is reserved for agents,” said Eva Braiman.

Inspired by this article and want to speak with an expert travel agent about how you can plan an unforgettable bucket list trip? Let one of Vacation’s on-call travel experts match you with an experienced travel agent, who can customize the dream itinerary that you deserve.

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