1- This is an important question to ask yourself!
Although there is always space for some flexibility, it is important to define your priorities and estimate your itinerary. This one will also depend on your budget and time: unless both are unlimited you will probably have to accept that you cannot do everything.
If you are travelling with somebody, do not hesitate to do this list separately as to not influence each other! Give yourself some time to think about it and then make that list.
2- Set your priorities
From there, try to prioritize them: the one you would not miss on top, the one you are ready to make concessions for at the bottom. If you are not traveling on your own, it is time to compare your lists and hopefully you will get some nice surprises (and maybe some long debates!).
3- Consider the cost of travelling in a particular countries
It will also depend on your budget. Some countries are relatively cheap to visit in terms of the cost of food, accommodation and transportation. Usually the more developed countries can get quite expensive while less developed ones seem affordable (there are some exceptions). To help you with that do not hesitate to use the information we are providing on this website!
4- Agree on the type of travel your are looking for
Are you more into big cities or outback adventures? Do you wish to get some chilling time on heavenly beaches or would you rather go trekking in the jungle? Are you more into diving or climbing? Of course you can plan a mix of all but it is important to acknowledge your needs and define your destinations accordingly. Also if you are willing to travel mainly by foot/ bicycle/ motorbikes/ car/ bus/ boat, take into consideration the distances and the type of roads available. 80 km in the USA might not take as long as 80 km in Cameroon! Also if you plan on camping or caravanning, do some research in advance on the related laws and available camping sites.
5- Take into consideration the climate, seasons and festivities
The climate and festivities are also two important things to take into account. Going to India during the Monsoon season might spoil your holidays (unless you really love rain!) – check our planning helper to assist you in choosing the best seasons!You might also be wanting to get to Rio right in time for the Carnival! If so plan in advance as it will probably be fully booked and rather expensive at that time.
Touristic seasons and local holidays may also have a drastic impact on prices and main sites’ influence.
Also consider the country’s situation: security, political and economic stability, quality (or existence) of infrastructure, tourist hospitality, visa processes… These criteria might vary regularly so keep yourself up to date!
6- Decide on how long you want and can stay in a country
If you are used to going on holiday only for one week or two, be aware that the rhythm might be and will need to be different. You might want to take some extra time to visit a region you always dreamed of and pass-by faster through other locations with only one or two points of interest for you. Also you may have to spend less time in countries that are more expensive and visit only one or two regions of some of the big countries (only the South of Brazil, or East of China for instance).
By taking all these considerations into account your list of countries will evolve naturally!