This paper examines how tourists view destinations by drawing together two key components of tourism research, which are tourists and destinations. The study is based on a series of focus groups with youth hostel guests at three locations in New Zealand. Analysis of the focus group transcripts reveals that destinations are expressed and discussed primarily in trip-related terms rather than with regard to the place attributes stressed in much of the literature and that the concept of destination is seen to be a very personal and fluid one. The conceptual and practical implications of these findings are then explored. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.