Tips for Picking Vacation Destinations

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Overwhelmed with all the places you want to take your family on vacation? Here are great tips for narrowing down where you want to go and what you want to do when you get there.

Quote says: Once a year, go someplace you've never been.

Like clockwork it sets in every June: an overwhelming desire to grab our things, jump in the car, and head out on the road. The last three summers since our move to the Carolinas have been all about adventure and exploring our {not so} new area with the kids and I’ve loved every single second of it.

Family travel was one of our biggest priorities when selecting which city we wanted to relocate to and make our new home. I spent a long time poring over maps and making lists of things we could do together within a 6 hour drive of our house. I love the southeast and it’s nearly endless list of destinations we can reach via car and even more extensive list of cities reachable from our international airport.

Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.

In just our last three southern summers, we’ve been blessed to visit:

  • Atlanta
  • Savannah
  • Asheville
  • Wilmington
  • Hilton Head
  • Charleston
  • Folly Beach
  • Washington DC
  • Orlando
  • Columbia
  • Myrtle Beach

Many of our travels have been documented right here, but I still have a few to catch up on and add to my library of posts.

Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.

We still haven’t even touched Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana, Alabama, or Virginia! We have years and years of trips ahead of us before we could possibly get bored.

5 tips for picking the perfect family road trip destinations:

1. Start with a Map

I obsess over Google Maps. I start with our address plotted in as the starting point and then just zoom out far enough to see the highway system. I follow all major highways out of town until I find the next nearest “big city.” Then I type in keywords like “museum, zoo, or tourist attraction” and watch the hot spots pop up on the map. I have a running list of daydream trips I’ve plotted so when we have an open pocket of time (a day vs. a weekend), I can usually find the right distance that fits.

2. Research Destination Options

When you use Google Maps to research your travel options, they will recommend hotels, restaurants, and nearby attractions and tell you extra information (weather, and quick facts, etc.) about the area right within the search:

Using internet tools to plan a family vacation

3. Plot Hot Spots

Once you’ve selected your destination city, you can use Google Maps to plot the potential sightseeing spots, restaurants, and hotel options available and save them for future reference. I love that you can easily access both the address and phone number of places like your hotel & restaurant choices by saving them to your map.

Using internet tools to plan a family vacation

4. Planning with Pinning

Pinterest is my other go-to source for travel planning. Did you know you can create a map board for your location pins? I keep one inspiration board for all places I’d like to go that fit within a day trip or long weekend via car distance. (If you live in the area, you can follow my Day trips & adventures from Charlotte here.)

Using internet tools to plan a family vacation

I add the location to the pin and it automatically plots itself onto an interactive map:

Using internet tools to plan a family vacation

5. Pinspiration

If you’ve settled on a specific trip, creating a Pinterest board for your destination allows you to bookmark the items you find using the search function straight from the Pinterest newsfeed. You can find reviews and tip articles on just about any element of your desired city and easily pin them with location to your map board. Then, when you’re actually out and about on your adventure, you can access the things you were interested in right from your mobile phone. By pinning a bunch of ideas to your map, you have a menu of options at easy access when the final decision has to be made. It’s a fantastic way to be organized and yet flexible on your trip.

So are you one of the millions that haven’t made it out of your state? What’s holding you back? Time, money, interest, opportunity? A combo of all the above? I’d love to know!

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