If you find a good, reputable breeder, with good references, you should be able to trust them to help you choose the right puppy. In fact, many of these good breeders won't give you full say on which puppy you get anyway. They know their puppies well, and know what kind of home is best for them. That's not to say there isn't some room for changing things... I went to get Kodi, expecting to come home with a different pup, as did the breeder. When I got there, it was clear that the connection between me and Kodi just wasn't to be denied.
So he came home with me instead.
I think, if you purchase a pup from a breeder not in your area, you DO need to be firm in your conviction that you will walk away if things are not as you expected, even if it means losing a deposit and your plane fare. All puppies are cute, and when faced with an arm full of fluff, it's hard not to rationalize bringing one home, even if it's (or the parent's!) temperament seems off, or you don't like the way the puppies were being raised. But remember, this is an animal that you will (hopefully) be spending the next 15 or more years with. The up-front expenses of purchase and going to get it pale in comparison to what you will spend over the lifetime of the dog.
There are several good, reliable breeders on the forum, and among the members, there are many other good ones represented. Poke around, read some threads and you'll learn which breeders are consistently producing good dogs. As you start networking with breeders, you will find that even if one doesn't have a litter coming up soon, they may be able to refer you to someone they trust who does. Also be aware that some of the top breeders do have a waiting list... it can take a while to wait for the puppy of your dreams!