5 Steps on How to Research Travel Destinations

Researching a travel destination can seem overwhelming. Which attractions are the best to visit, how are you going to get around, which is the best location to stay at, let alone which accommodation to book, and not to mention booking flights, car hire and train trips. There’s so much to plan before you book a trip.

Exhausted yet? Well, I’m here to help because believe it or not this is one of my favourite parts of travel. So let’s work our way through the steps of researching a trip.

In This Article You Will Learn How to Plan a Trip by Researching:

taking notes in front of a computer as researching a trip
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Things to Research Before Travelling

We can now move on to researching all the elements of your trip including attractions, transport, the location, accommodation, and getting there.

But before we get going on how to research a trip, have you answered all the questions in the first part of how to plan a trip?  If you haven’t, we’ll wait for you whilst you read 6 Questions to Get Started with Planning for Travel which includes answering these questions:

  • Where you are going
  • Who you are travelling with
  • When you are going
  • What style of accommodation you would like
  • Why you are travelling or the purpose of your trip
  • How you are going to get there

1.  Where are the Attractions

Now that you have your travel destination decided upon and what activities you would like to do there.  You need to find out where ALL these activities are located.

To research this part of your vacation start by Googling attractions at your trip destination and make a note of all the attraction locations.  Alternatively, you could grab a copy of a Lonely Planet Guide (or similar) to research the travel attractions.  Personally, I like Lonely Planet guides as they offer plenty of travel tips at the back of the book.

Note: This is the first step in determining where you are going to stay.

Top Trip Tip: Buying a copy of the Lonely Planet Guide (or similar guide)* of your vacation destination now is well worth it.  You will use the resources in the guidebook continually in your trip planning and during your vacation.

the entrance to Luna Park in Melbourne
Where are the attractions?

2.  How to Get Around

Step two of determining which location you will stay during your vacation is to ascertain how are you going to get around your travel destination?

  • Is everything within walking distance?
  • Can you catch a taxi?
  • Hire a car?
  • Is there public transport?
  • Or should you book tours*?

Look at the options, availability, ease of use and costs associated with each of these choices.

Top Trip Tip: Public transport is a great way to save money whilst on vacation

green melbourne tram
How are you getting around?

3.  Narrowing Down the Location

Once you have established the activities and attraction locations that you want to visit, decide how you are going to get around, you will then be able to narrow down exactly which location you will want to stay within your travel destination.


To choose your trip accommodation location look at:

  • How easy it is to get around from
  • How close the attractions are that you wish to visit
  • Or can you book tours* to pick you up from your location

If you find the attractions are all spread out, then choose a central location to all the attractions, yet close to your transport option.

Top Trip Tip: When choosing this location also consider additional amenities such as supermarkets and laundrettes

woman pointing to map on ipad
Choose a location to base yourself
Image by William Iven from Pixabay

4.  Choosing a Place to Stay

Now that you have chosen the best location to base yourself on during your trip it is time to research the best accommodation that meets your needs.  Two of the questions you will have answered in getting started with travel planning is:

  1. Who is travelling with you?
  2. What type of accommodation do you all require eg. hostel, campground, self-catering, hotel, resort and star level?

The answer to these questions will help you find the best accommodation fit for you.  Start this part of your trip planning by Googling your preferred location and type of accommodation.  The search engine will offer you individual accommodation websites and also reference articles (like this one I wrote on Family Friendly Penang Hotels) to start your research.  You can also refer to your Lonely Planet Guide for alternative options.

Then (and this is the time-consuming part) it is a matter of reading through each accommodations website to find the best fit for your travel plans.  I like to look through the websites in this order:

  • Facilities available
  • Style of the room and amenities
  • Price and vacancy

Once all those sections have been addressed you will have a shortlist of accommodation possibilities.  Then read online reviews like those on TripAdvisor*.  My suggestion is to read multiple reviews to get an overall feeling of the establishment.

Top Trip Tip: Prior to your trip accommodation research make a list of all the facilities and amenities you require eg. WiFi, restaurants, gym, kids clubs, pools, games rooms etc.

hotel pool in front of high rise hotel rooms
Find the best accommodation for you

Get the PDF and continue learning with the step-by-step guide on

5.  How do You Get There

The final step in researching your trip is to organise how you are going to get to your travel destination.  First of all, are you flying, road tripping, catching a train or a ferry?

Researching a Flight

Start by visiting a flight comparison website*.  Type in your dates, departure location and travel destination.  You will be provided with flight times and prices.

Decide what’s important to you:

  • Flight time
  • Inflight amenities eg food and entertainment
  • Price

Then compare these prices with the airline website and travel agents.

Planning a Road Trip

If you need to hire a car? Start with a car hire comparison site* to find the best options including pickup points.  Is it close to your accommodation or airport?  Then calculate the distance you will drive to determine the cost of fuel.  Review roadmaps to create an itinerary of stops.

You may like to read these…

Booking a Train Trip

Google trains and your travel destination to find the appropriate train company.  Then refer to their website for train departure times.  If it is an overnight train do you want a seat or sleeper compartment?

Catching a Ferry

Do a search for the ferry company that services your travel destination and review times and prices available.  You may find options that include overnight ferries and this may mean making the decision between a deck chair or cabin.

Top Trip Tip: If catching overnight flights, trains or ferries consider:

  • Your quality of sleep
  • How you will feel on arrival at your destination
  • What you have planned to do the next day
aircraft lined up for boarding at airport
How are you getting to your accommodation?

The Next Phase to Planning a Trip

Now it is time to book.  You can either do it yourself directly with the carrier and hotel websites, use a third-party travel booking system like Booking.com*, or go to a trusted travel agent.  The decision is up to you and really depends on how confident you feel doing it yourself or utilising the services of a professional.

To get more travel tips on how to book a trip visit HERE

If you currently don’t have the money to make a booking you now have all the information required to start saving for your trip.

Get started with the…

Travel Planning Series

This is the second stage of the Tips 4 Trips travel planning series. Plan your next trip with the entire travel planning guides.

Not ready to read all these now? Why not get the weekly email series of these travel planning guides delivered to your inbox?



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  1. These are great tips! We generally have a loose idea of where we want to be, and most of where we choose to stay is based on our needs as a family of 4 – wifi for me (since I work online), 2 BRs (my toddler is a terrible sleeper so this way only one of us has to suffer at a time!), and that sort of thing. We always use AirBNB because we find them to be more family friendly than hotels. I will need to check out the Lonely Planet guides – we use TK Eyewitness travel and love them!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Kate. I really like the TK Eyewitness guides for city guides as well.

  2. Whenever I go on travel, I just book only 2 days of hotel accommodation. There are hotel, hostel, or apartment that are so nice looking on photos but not in reality. EXPECTATION vs. REALITY.

    1. Almost as if you are doing a try before you buy Carrie. Why commit yourself unless you are totally satisfied?

  3. This post is so helpful, it shows that by planning ahead you can have the best trip possible. I also enjoy the research and planning phase because ti makes the vacation start earlier and gets you more excited for it. I’m sharing this with my followers to help them with their planning! #TheWeeklyPostcard

    1. Thank you so much for sharing Cheryl. Much appreciated.

  4. I know some people who can use this. 😉 So many people we talk to start by choosing a cheap hotel, and then complain that they had to hire a car or walk forever to get to what they wanted to see! Or worse, they didn’t know what they wanted to see in the first place. On the other hand, at least they ventured out to travel! 🙂 Great tips, Sally. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    1. Well, at least they did do that Rob and Ann. But as you say thinking you have found the best and cheapest hotel deal can cost you a fortune at the other end.

  5. The best part of traveling and visiting a city is using its transport system to better understand how the city moves and functions. #TheWeeklyPostcard!

    1. Yes, we’re huge fans of the public transport systems as well Lolo and my son gets a real kick out of it as we always use the car at home.

  6. Great tips. There really is so much planning that goes into a successful trip. Where you stay definitely plays a big part in that. #TheWeeklyPostcard.

  7. I’m very much a Lonely Planet kind of person as well! I love how the writers display an in-depth knowledge of the area they’re covering, and it’s a great way to learn about some lesser-known places of interest because they just cover so MUCH. The maps are very helpful too! I’ve taken to downloading soft copies on my phone which is so much easier to refer to when on the go 🙂

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