This is the starting point without which the other aspects are meaningless. The factors for deciding your destination should be:
What Type of Individual / Group are You? Are you a college student or bachelor looking for some time-out? Just buddies? Or perhaps honeymooners (even second honeymoon will do). Are you a family with small kids or teens or a large / joint family? This will determine the kind of holiday (and hence destination) as well as the following aspects. So when you inquire about the holiday experiences of others, take into account this factor, since a family outing at Dubai may not mean the same for honeymooners.
What are Your Interests / Likes.
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This follows from the last factor. An individual or group will certainly have some likes / dislikes. Generally (there might be exceptions) we see that bachelors and buddies prefer beach vacations. Honeymooners would like to visit a romantic city like Paris. There will be someone who likes historical places or art & architecture, food, cultural activities or sports & games. Many of the popular destinations have something for everybody and so have transformed into tourist havens. On the other hand, a vacation to say, Athens (Greece) or Machu Picchu (Peru) might not be for everyone.
How Travel-Savvy are You? If you have travelled before to other places, especially international ones, then you most likely know many aspects related to travel. So you only need to use the given tools and hack travel to get much better deals. But, if you are a first-time traveller, then you must begin your first travel by hacking it; so you can leverage that to make your future travel experiences better and more enjoyable.
What is Your Budget. This is applicable for most of us. (I will cover aspects for the well-heeled too, for whom budget is not a constraint). A vacation to the South-Eastern or Middle-Eastern destinations is doable on a low budget. While many think that a European vacation is expensive, I will show that one can get by on a reasonable budget.
Be Aware of FOREX Rate. The foreign exchange rate for currencies at your potential travel destination can be a real downer. It will simply eat away at your expenses and the budget will go haywire. It just doesn’t make financial sense to visit the US when the INR is falling against USD.
Be Informed of Safety / Security. Sometimes you land at your destination eagerly looking forward to that wonderful vacation ahead and you realize that there is a curfew or even worse, a riot in the city. You are frustratingly stuck at the hotel or airport with nothing to do. Therefore you need to be aware of recent goings-on in the city or country you are visiting. Usually Ministry of External Affairs issues a travel advisory on their Press Release pages. Be sure to follow it.
What will be the Trip Duration. If you have time for just a week or so, you should consider going nearer home. For travel to farther destinations (flight time more than 6 hours), it makes sense to have longer trip duration like 15 days or more in order to get the returns on your flight. It is not likely that a family can travel to a single European destination for 5 days every year. And so, here’s an important point I would like to make – I do not recommend ‘twenty-destinations-in-fifteen-days’ packages.
You will mostly likely be too tired to actually enjoy anything and places like Europe cannot be done in one visit. So, if a tour operator is selling you that exquisite package in Europe, just imagine the amount of travelling by coach / bus / train that you will undertake to visit these cities and then the actual time left for you to visit and enjoy the attractions and experience the real Europe. My suggestion is take a detailed look at the itinerary they have planned, ask people around and then look at other websites like Wikitravel and guide books from LonelyPlanet / Fodors to see what you will miss. France in two nights (which will be actually just a day) is simply not doable just as two nights in India is not.
! Usually suggest that first-timers should dip their toes in water by visiting nearby places like Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Dubai. All these places are tourist friendly, budget friendly (costs comparable if not lesser than domestic travel) and nearer home – so even a short 4-5 days visit can be done with ease. My preferences will be as follows:
– Malaysia & Singapore. You should go to Malaysia (2 nights at Genting Highlands and 2 nights at Kuala Lumpur or just KL) and 4 nights at Singapore. Recommend Singapore & Malaysia together because of their proximity to each other, thus reducing your travel costs if you go at different times. Genting Highlands offers entertainment for families as well as casinos. KL has good architecture, food and shopping as well as some history & culture. Singapore, the island city-state gives an impression that it was built to welcome tourists. So whether you just love the fun rides at Sentosa or the clean and well (aid Singapore Zoo, or its cuisine, and the most important, the shopping (especially during the GSS – Great Singapore Sale), Singapore is always a favorite with Indian tourists. And can you ignore Shammi Kapoor when you see him cavorting to Jeevan Mein Ek Baar Aana Singapore! [Singapore; 1960)?
– Dubai. I recommend a minimum of 4 to 5 nights at Dubai. This desert city loves superlatives and so offers you excellent city scapes (flurj Khalifa & Burj Al Arab), best shopping experience (some of the largest malls and jaw-dropping discounts especially during Dubai Shopping festival), great food and other attractions like water parks, desert safari and more. The hotels here are very reasonable and getting around is downright cheap.
– Thailand. Okay, while this will make youngsters chuckle, Bangkok. Phuket and Chiang Mai have a lot to offer than just sleaze. I recommend a minimum of 3 days at Bangkok (Pattaya is just 1.5 hours from Bangkok) and 3 at Phuket. You can shop to your hearts content at Chatuchak market or visit some the palaces or savour delicious Thai cuisine.