Vacation ideas are one of the most fun parts of trip planning—what traveler doesn’t love to imagine all of the places they might be able to see in the world? Whether you’re planning just a day trip to a local tourist hot spot, a month-long romantic vacation to an exotic destination, or a family vacation, the list of travel ideas is nearly endless, and it means that to plan your perfect trip, all you need to do is consider how you’d like to spend your time while you’re traveling.
Before you decide where to go on vacation, it’s wise to do some research to get a few new vacation ideas about where you’d like to go. Check out travel articles such as these, read a few great books by travel writers, or think about historic destinations or activities that have always fascinated you. Once you’ve considered your interests and your budget, it’s easy to start planning the perfect getaway, and to find the best possible vacation deals for you.
If you’re planning a budget-friendly trip within the US, a great way to go is to look for famous museums or national parks. Visiting aquariums and museums in New England is a great way to fit a lot of nearby destinations into one trip. For instance, the Mystic Seaport in Connecticut is a seventeen-acre museum that teaches about the lives of whalers and fishermen, and the Mystic Marine Life Aquarium is close to the museum and offers excellent fish exhibits. Both these spots are terrific for anyone traveling with kids, as is Plymouth Massachusetts, which is not far from Boston and has several museums about American history.
National parks are some of the most beautiful parts of the continent, and whether you head for Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, Yellowstone National Park, or Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park, you’re guaranteed lots of scenic natural beauty and many options for cheap vacations. Camping at these parks is often free or very cheap, and the array of nearby cabins and motels also makes it affordable. Fishing, hiking, and mountain biking let you explore the area and save money at the same time, and you couldn’t ask for a prettier place to be.
If you plan to take your kids on a theme park trip, there are also plenty of options for budget vacations and vacation deals in particular. For instance, a Disneyland vacation in California can be surprisingly affordable, with the availability of deals for hotels and park admission, and the rides and shows here are unbeatable. Besides Disneyland and Walt Disney World in Florida, there are many smaller theme parks as well, such as Noah’s Ark Water Park in the Wisconsin Dells, Water Country USA in Williamsburg Virginia, and Magic Springs in Arkansas, all of which are lots of fun and can be inexpensive as well. Finding your local theme park is one of the best travel idea options if you want to thrill the kids but a trip to Florida or California is out of reach.
If a winter vacation is on your mind, the best travel idea is often a trip to one of the ski resorts around the country. Colorado and Vermont are popular destinations for a ski vacation, and you’ll find various kid-friendly ski programs and ski lessons in these and other states, meaning you don’t have to be ready for the black diamond slopes to enjoy your trip. For instance, Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado includes kid's park, tubing hill, and a children's ski center that provides free skiing center for kids under six, and the Killington ski resort in Vermont has more than 100 trails to several ski choices such as snowshoeing, ice skating, and sleigh rides.
Finally, there are many vacation ideas for couples planning a dreamy escapade, and destination weddings and honeymoons are two of the biggest reasons for planning a romantic vacation. If you’re interested in an outdoor adventure, consider South America or head for the hill country in Northern Thailand. If a beach vacation is one your mind, then a cruise trip to the Caribbean or a vacation in the South Pacific can be truly marvelous. Like planning any memorable getaway, it’s all a matter of considering what you’d most like to do and see.
Luxury Travel Ideas
You might not think of extravagant comfort in the vast savannahs and plains of the Serengeti, but Tanzania (one of the poorest nations in the world) can offer you the beautiful Kirawira Tented Camp in the far west of this remote area. It is a traditional and elegant permanent tented camp where royalty and heads of state stay and where each opulent large tent comes complete with its own butler. There are camps and lodges like this throughout East Africa’s safari parks, and since how you get around is also a factor, you can book luxury tours that fly you from place to place in a private jet, missing many of the rough roads. The best places to go on a luxury trip in Africa will have options like this. Look to Botswana, known for its very upscale lodging and transport options, or South Africa, which is a sophisticated country with numerous luxury hotels and wildlife lodges.
Some luxury travel ideas are based around transportation both to get around as accommodation. For this you can look to the high seas and Southeast Asia. Most cruise ships offer a degree of luxury, but you can find ships that truly cater to those who have few limits on their budgets. Traditional luxury can be found on the Silversea ships. If you want tropical elegance, try the Paul Gauguin line that sails through French Polynesia and South Pacific. If you want your (almost) private yacht, try the SeaDream line whose ships carry only 110 passengers. Both Europe and Asia also offer luxury river cruise ships. The best luxury vacation idea for this kind of cruise might be the Orient-Express ship Road to Mandalay, which sails in opulence on the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar (formerly Burma). The Orient-Express also operates a train reminiscent of an aristocratic bygone era through Laos, Thailand, and Malaysia. Onboard are lavishly appointed private sleeping compartments and elegant gourmet dining with crystal and linen service. There are also numerous intimate luxury river cruise ships that ply the waters of the Rhine, Main, and Danube River in Europe, stopping at grand capitals like Vienna and Budapest, charming historic villages, and attractions along the river banks.
Some of the best places to go on a luxury trip in Asia include the sprawling and gleaming high-rise metropolises—from Shanghai and Singapore to Hong Kong and Tokyo. Some of the finest five-star hotels in the world are located in these cities. Extravagant accommodations can also be found in the oil-rich desert countries of the Middle East. Look to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates for some of the most dramatic engineering marvels in the world, like the Palm. Or you can buy a mansion on the manmade islands that make up Palm Island and The World.
There are sophisticated and cosmopolitan cities around the globe, each of which boasts one of the finest five-star hotels in the world. Luxury travel ideas in South America for cities like this include Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires. Factors that make cities like this so attractive to those who can afford not to worry about budget include, stunning locations, world-class gourmet dining, chic shopping opportunities, international cultural events, and numerous iconic attractions. In Europe, Paris certainly qualifies. As does London and Rome. In the United States, you might head to New York City with its iconic skyscrapers and monuments like the Statue of Liberty, the stately and dignified Washington DC, or lovely San Francisco. If you want a little sizzle with your luxury, there is no better place than Las Vegas, full of luxury hotels and VIP treatment with exciting shows and hypnotizing casinos.
You can even enjoy pampered elegance in the wild places of the United States, which includes some of the country’s magnificent national parks and most elite recreational spots. The best luxury vacation idea for this kind of trip might be the Ahwahnee Lodge in Yosemite National Park for classic elegance. This elite accommodation on the floor of the breathtaking valley has been in operation and serving the rich and powerful since 1the 1920s. Or you could choose the venerable Hotel Jerome in Aspen Colorado where you can schuss the ski slopes with movie stars and always be in comfort when you return to your lodging.
South America Destinations
The best South America vacation idea for those who may not be up to the kind of physical fitness required of a true expedition like this but still want to see these incredible sights might be more upscale vacation packages. You can trek through the highlands of Peru to the breathtaking ruins of Machu Picchu and stay in modest guesthouses or camp out along the way. Or, you can book Inca Trail tours that have you staying in the finest luxury hotels of Cusco and Lima and in lovely lodges in the Urubamba or Sacred Valley. If where to go in South America for you involves being awed by the magnificent fjords of Patagonia, you can see them in comfort and style on cruises that travel all the way up the coast, perhaps transiting the Panama Canal and moving into the Caribbean for more exciting port stops.
Other South America destinations that involve wild nature include cruises up the mighty Amazon River. These generally begin deep in the most diverse ecosystem in the world in the city of Manaus. These are some of the best trips to South America for wild places, whether you are into luxury or roughing it. There are five-star cruise ships plying this river, as well as budget ships that might have you sleeping in a hammock in “bunk room” accommodations wrapped in your own sleeping bag. If you are really into luxury and comfort as well as magnificent natural spectacles, you can visit Iquazu Falls on the border of Brazil and Argentina. There are five-star hotels here like the lovely Sheraton set right in the national park where the view from your bed encompasses the mist, roar, and drama of the magnificent falls.
If you are into wide open spaces, the best South America vacation idea might include the vast Pampas of Argentina. These vast grassy plains comprise the heart of the South American cattle ranching region, home of the gaucho cowboy and source of some of the best beef exported around the world. You can take day excursions from Buenos Aires into this region to one of the estancias (ranches) where you can learn the skills of the cowboys and enjoy a sumptuous barbecue.
In fact, many of the best trips to South America will include the chic and sophisticated city of Buenos Aires. The great cities of this continent make superb South America destinations for those who are looking for high-brow culture, wonderful Spanish colonial architecture, international caliber gourmet dining, and shopping that rivals the Champs Elysees in Paris. In Buenos Aires, you can learn the sultry tango and follow the life of Argentina’s most beloved daughter, Evita Peron, from the Casa Rosada where she reigned as First Lady to Recoleta Cemetery where she was laid to rest. In Rio de Janeiro, you can luxuriate in a few of the finest luxury hotels in the world, watch and be watched on the iconic Ipanema or Copacabana Beach. Take a cable car to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain and marvel at the majestic Christ the Redeemer Statue. Come around Easter in February or March and experience the international party called Carnival.
If the trendy and glitzy Copacabana Beach isn’t for you, the best South America vacation idea might be secluded beaches further south or north of Rio where fewer tourists go. There are great resorts (and great surfing) on the beaches towards Belem, and sometimes completely deserted beaches south of the metropolis. You might want to spend a few days or a week cruising through the isolated Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador to see the unique species that inspired Charles Darwin. Here, you will cross the equator several times, and are able to snorkel with marine iguanas, golden rays, and penguins.
South Pacific Destinations
South Pacific destinations conjure images of idyllic tropical islands that have drawn romantics like the great artist Paul Gauguin and have given birth to adventure stories like the Mutiny on the Bounty and Robinson Crusoe. These islands do exist, and they provide some of the best trips to the South Pacific for those who are looking for these kinds of experiences. Tahiti is perhaps the island group that most conjures up remote, idyllic, and romantic getaway. These islands provide one of the most popular wedding and honeymoon destinations, epitomized by the Bora Bora Lagoon Resort. This is only one of the lovely resorts with serene overwater bungalows providing couples with their own slice of paradise, and private decks leading down to their own piece of tranquil turquoise water.
Other South Pacific destinations that offer this kind of romantic atmosphere include the Fiji Islands. Get flights to the city of Nadi, and take your pick from there. Yasawa Island has some lovely and luxurious accommodations like the Yasawa Island Resort boasting low-key ambiance and spacious bungalows. You can stay on Turtle Island, a small island with numerous beaches shared by a single luxurious resort.
Where to go in Australia for an over-the-top romantic experience will place you in a completely different atmosphere. Try the beautiful Blue Mountains, located about a 90-minute drive inland from Sydney. This dramatically beautiful national park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has lovely accommodations in places like the Lilianfels Blue Mountain Resort and Spa. This is rated one of the best luxury hotels in the country, with gourmet dining, opulent rooms and suites, and breathtaking views.
Australia is a huge country with a wide variety of landscapes, ecosystems, wildlife, and attractions. If you are yearning for remote wide open spaces in Australia, go to the center of the country, called the Red Center because of the color of its soil. This is the legendary Outback, Aboriginal homeland and site of their sacred monolith Uluru–Ayers Rock. It is an eerily beautiful desert landscape, accessible from the historic town of Alice Springs where you can discover the rugged pioneer history of the region and the rich cultural heritage of the native people. More remote landscapes can be found in Western Australia north of the city of Perth. Here, you can enjoy extraordinary desert landscapes in what is called the country’s Western Outback as well as magnificent beaches along what is called the country’s Coral Coast. Here there is scuba diving, whale watching, surfing and windsurfing, and many other things to do.
However, the best trips to the South Pacific in the country of Australia are found on its eastern coast, with the beautiful capital city of Sydney and its iconic landmarks. The lovely harbor is crowned by the graceful Sydney Harbour Bridge and the soaring sails of the Sydney Opera House. Almost everyone who visits the country will spend some time in this vibrant cosmopolitan city. After Sydney, other great places to go include the eastern coast north to the bustling harbor and resort city of Cairns, gateway to the Great Barrier Reef where some of the best scuba diving in the world can be enjoyed.
For many the best trips to the South Pacific will include the widely varying landscapes and cultural attractions of New Zealand. The two main islands, North Island and South Island, range from the rolling hills dotted with geothermal hot springs around Rotorua and the verdant green pastures where Hobbitton of the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed to the jagged peaks of the Southern Alps where Sir Edmund Hillary learned his mountaineering skills. In addition to all this, the country is the sailing capital of the world with a wonderful harbor at Auckland, where the America’s Cup yacht races have been held, and Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park, with dramatic ocean and landscapes rivaled only by the fjords of Norway.
One of the cheapest South Pacific destinations for Americans is probably Guam. Because it is a Unites States territory, citizens do not even require a passport. However, if you are traveling to other areas in the region, a passport will be required. Many who visit this region can’t decide which place to visit. The top South Pacific vacation idea for these people might be a cruise that stops at major ports in several countries and islands.