It’s How We…Wednesday! Once a month, Erika and I host a link up where we talk about how we (fill in the blank). We’ll share and then we’re hoping you’ll link up and share too…because I LOVE learning new things from you ladies! So far this year, we’ve discussed…
And this month…HOW WE PLAN OUR SUMMER VACATIONS.
You know what? I’m excited about this topic!
In my little world, I’m probably ill-equipped to discuss most things, but I feel like this is a subject I can really speak into because not only do I plan pretty elaborate trips each year, but I own a travel agency and help people plan every single day and LOVE IT! There is no “one size fits all” for family vacation planning, but I do think that over the years, we’ve developed quite a good system.
I’m going to share some of my tips, and then I hope you share yours too! My tips are going to come from questions I get asked here in blog world all the time along with questions potential/existing clients ask me too. Ready? Here we go…
1: HOW DO YOU AFFORD TO PAY FOR YOUR VACATIONS? HOW CAN I SAVE FOR MINE?
Here we are heading to London. We had been married two years here 🙂 .
I get asked this question all the time. The basic answer is, we save. Andrew and I are always “saving” for things around here and have been since we were first married. We’re both type-A, super organized, scheduled people, so this comes naturally for us. You know…we get our pay checks, we tithe, we donate to certain charitable organizations, we contribute to financial investments, pay all the bills, and save. We like literally put money aside for things. For instance, there is a home project we want to do, so we’re saving for it. If we put the money aside, we won’t spend it. We do the same thing for trips. We plan our trips out about two years in advance for the whole year. In January of this year, we sat down and talked about where we want to travel in 2020. We looked at the whole calendar year, talked to the kids, picked our destinations and calculated how much everything was going to cost…and started saving. From time to time, we change our minds (not very often), but we have the savings there. From road trips to overseas trips, we save in advance. I wish I had a fancier answer to this question, but it’s good old-fashioned savings.
2: HOW DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH A TRIP IS GOING TO COST?
Kensington and Smith enjoying their time in Finland 😉 .
If you’re planning a trip this year, you can calculate it. You can go online, look up airfare, check hotel rates, rental car charges, train ticket pricing etc. Figuring out how much to save for an upcoming trip is easy…it gets trickier when you start trying to calculate for trips down the road. Here’s what we do: we calculate how much it would cost to do that trip right now…and then add more money to the total for inflation. It’s not a perfect system, but it works. We look up flights, hotel, cruise pricing, etc and then add a touch more.
3: HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHERE YOU WANT TO GO?
Enjoying cocoa and coffee in Alaska!
Andrew and I have reached a great place in life…we ask the kids! Before that, we had a map in our laundry room where we would put pins every time we traveled some place new, so we were always looking for new adventures. On my phone, I keep a list of places I read about or see that I want to check out. Sometimes, it’s a city, other times, it’s just the name of a cool lodge or something. HGTV gives me lots of ideas 🙂 . We’re just always talking about travel over here and trying to think of new places to visit. BUT NOW, my big two give us all the ideas! Andrew and I suggested taking the kids somewhere this summer and then one day, they both watched a show on TV that made them ask us to change our plans. So, now, we’re going somewhere THEY picked. I love this so much! They also picked our summer 2020 destination too! Start a list! I bet you’ll surprise yourself at how quickly you add destinations to it.
4: HOW DO YOU DECIDE IF IT’S A KID-FRIENDLY DESTINATION OR NOT?
We love, love, loved Norway!
So, here’s the thing…there are certain destinations that scream KIDS! Like Walt Disney World, but I find that my kids have just as much fun exploring other places too. One of our BEST family vacations was Washington D.C. and that was a lot of walking, museums, and history…but we had so much fun! Would they enjoy a Disney Cruise every time? Yes. Are they super excited about this next vacation that has nary a Mickey Mouse in sight? YES! We’ve taken them to the strangest places since they were little, and not one time have I thought “this is too adult for them”. There are always parks, places to play, interesting museums, yummy food, fun hotel rooms, outdoor adventures and more to keep them entertained. Plus, they learn a lot. It’s family fun plus a healthy dose of education thrown in. I say…go where you want to go and let them come along. You want to head to the beach? Bring ’em. You want to tackle NYC? They’ll love it! You want to try a cruise but don’t want to do Disney? Kids love “big boats”! I just think most vacations can be “kid” vacations too.
5: HOW FAR IN ADVANCE DO YOU PLAN?
Getaways with Andrew are my fave. Like when we went to the Hamptons 🙂 .
Like actually booking things? It depends. We try and book cruises at least 12-15 months out. Cruises book up quickly and because there are limited cabins in each category, we like to get in early. We book airfare anywhere from 3 to 6 months out. For example, we’ve already booked our air for our trip in December. And for land vacations? When we’re booking things like hotel and car rental, we tend to do that anywhere from 6 to 9 months out. Now, those are very broad timelines, but ones I always think work well for us.
6: WHY SHOULD I USE A TRAVEL AGENT?
Ha! I mean, shameless plug, right? We have clients use us for many reasons. Sometimes, they just don’t have the time to book things themselves. Sometimes, they just don’t want to. They want to show up at the airport and end up where they need to be without fussing with any of the details. A lot of times, they reach out because they have no clue where to start, what to do or jut need a lot of advice along the way. We have a lot of large parties travel with us (just last week, we had a family of 22 go on an Alaskan cruise), and that’s just too much planning for one person. There are a lot of reasons, and we’re happy to help if you think you might need it.
So, that wraps up this! I’m excited to go through and read everyone else’s tips and advice too!
Before we go…here are some of my other posts on travel in case you want to browse…
Happy Wednesday, friends! I hope you have the BEST day!!