Have you ever taken the time to reflect on your favorite destinations you’ve traveled to? The question arises all the time with friends, family and strangers in conversation. The problem is, you likely love traveling so it’s always a tough decision. They’re all amazing, right?

Whether that’s you or not, I think you will find the exercise I outline below compelling. I’ve narrowed down my favorite destinations using an analytical weighted decision matrix approach. Surprisingly, the results ended up aligning closely with my intuition or top of mind favorites! The great thing about this is you can do this too.

But wait, what is a weighted decision matrix you may ask? A weighted decision matrix is a tool used to compare options with the insight of multiple factors of varying levels of importance to you. The steps and images below should help add more color on how this tool generally works.

The high-level steps are below:

  1. List all of options along the Y-axis or left side column (i.e., all the countries you’ve been to / want to analyze)
  2. Next, list each factor that makes a destination desirable along the X-axis (along the top row). Examples of these factors could be: Food, cost, hospitality, safety, etc.
  3. Assign a weight under each of these factors (i.e. ‘.14’ for food or ‘.08’ for safety). The higher the number, the higher the importance to you. These factors should sum exactly 1.00
  4. Rate each option (country) as it relates to each factor in the table you’ve created from 1-10, 10 being the highest rating
  5. Multiply each rating by the assigned weight you’ve given in Step 3
  6. Sum your weighted rankings for each country, this will give you the overall total weighted score for that country. The country with the highest weighted score, is your favorite! Easy as that.

After conducting the exercise, I was pleased to discover the countries that appeared at the top of the list. Not only does this answer the ‘favorite destinations’ question easier, it also provides you 1) a chance to reflect on memories from your adventures and 2) if they were that enjoyable, perhaps you should revisit these destinations later in life (i.e., for a honeymoon, during retirement, or your next trip!).

Draw your own conclusions

Before you view my decision matrix and my favorite destinations below, please keep in mind, this is idiosyncratic to each individual and everyone will have their own factor criteria and weights. These are simply my factors and weights driven through first hand experience and research. Feel free to draw your own conclusions!

Weighted Decision Matrix:

decision matrix

Weighted decision matrix with Greece, Spain and Italy topping out the list

Unweighted Decision Matrix:

Unweighted

Unweighted decision matrix

Note how the weights have affected the ranking of each destination due to varying factors having higher weights than others. For example, I decided cost and food were more important factors versus infrastructure and safety and hence, they were assigned higher weights.

Practicality

There are many practical uses of weighted decision matrices. You can leverage them to figure out where to go next as a more forward looking approach. You can use them in any facet of life! Whether it’s buying a house, figuring out where to move the family, or buying a car, you can use a decision matrix. I hope this is a helpful tool and you learned something out of it!

For more on one of my favorite destinations, please see my article on road tripping across Puglia, Italy.

For more information on what a decision matrix is, go here.

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