How many of us would love to see Tokyo, Maui, Sydney, or Paris but only know a couple things to do there? No matter what your destination, when you’re planning a trip, it’s important to have a strategy for spending your time wisely. Here’s how to find great places to visit on any vacation and get the most out of your travels.

Revisit Your Pro List

Are you headed to a beach or forest area? You’re probably looking for relaxation, tranquility, and natural beauty. Are you headed to a major city? You’re probably interested in culture, nightlife, and fine dining. Make sure you have a list of what features drew you to your destination, or at least what you’re curious about.

Use the Internet

What did travelers even do in the age before search engines? A simple search for "things to do in San Diego" will land you thousands of results, like this great Viejas resort. They won’t help you narrow down ideas, but they’ll give you a place to start, though keeping that San Diego for Dummies travel book on hand is still a good idea.

Don’t Skip the Reviews

While you’re busy wading through search results, remember to read reviews from other travelers. Review will help you discover which hot spots and tourist attractions are worth your time, and they will also help you know what to expect when you visit. Look for the general consensus, but also consider what travelers say about parking, prices, and value.

Consider the Basics

Normally, when you book your hotel, their website will tell you which local attractions are nearby. Start by exploring the area near where you’re staying, then branch out to find more spots that interest you. Think about how far it will take to get there, how much it will cost, and what your transportation and food options are. Don’t try to fit too much into your schedule.

Don’t Limit Yourself

Not all travelers will be content with visiting tourist traps and common landmarks. If you want more out of London than Big Ben, or more out of Beijing than the Great Wall, talk to locals and do some serious research. People at your destination as well as on the internet can help you find obscure restaurants, out-of-the-way shopping, and local hangouts to provide a unique experience.

You only have a limited amount of time on your vacation, and you want to see everything you can. Don’t leave home without a plan to explore the places that pique your interest and fit your traveling style.