Data shows that travel is good for our health and relationships, and helps us and our kids learn more about the world around us.Source: Destination Analysts, 2020 and Institute for Applied Positive Research,
Guys! It’s National Plan For Vacation Day!
What does that mean?
It’s a day to encourage all of us to plan out and schedule our vacations for the rest of the year. So, if you’ve been dreaming of your next adventure, the time to organize your days off is now!
Keep in mind that each family has their own schedule to adhere to. So what works for us may not work for you. I hope you are able to take some of these tips and apply them to your own family with modifications where necessary.
I’ve been a stay at home mom now for 2 years. We also homeschool so our family situation is a bit different and more flexible than most. That being said, my first step is to….
SET OUR VACATIONING GOALS FOR THE YEAR
1. Are we taking one BIG vacation? (For us, what qualifies as a “BIG vacation” is a trip that is one week or more and includes flying.)
2. One small vacation? (A vacation lasting only a couple of days.)
3. Or a bunch of small getaways sprinkled throughout the year?
We’ve been extremely blessed and my husband has worked steadily all through 2020. Our goal for this year is to have one BIG vacation with a bunch of small getaways planned throughout.
LOOK AT MY HUSBAND’S HOLIDAY WORK SCHEDULE
Now that I know what our goal is for the year, I then take a look at my husband’s holiday work schedule. Scheduling vacations around my husband’s set days off is a great way to start planning. If he already has a day off, I might as well see if that’s a week we can travel. Also, we prefer to vacation during days that public schools are still in session. It’s a lot less crowded and a lot more enjoyable during these times.
For example: If my husband has a Monday off, I will either schedule the vacation to start that same week OR the week prior. I usually prefer to schedule for the week prior because that gives my husband an extra day to rest before heading back to work.
PICK THE DESTINATION
Picking the destination can happen before OR after deciding on the date. To fit my family’s needs, our options for selecting a destination has to fulfill 2 stipulations: 1. It has to be a direct flight. 2. The flight can’t be longer than 6 hours. If you and your children are able to tolerate layovers and switching flights, more options will be available to you. For now, having a direct flight makes traveling much more doable (and less stressful) with our special needs child.
If you have no idea on where you’d like to vacation, taking a peak at discounted vacation sites is a good start.
Here’s a quick list of sites specializing in vacation deals: https://www.skyscanner.com/
BOOK THE FLIGHT AND HOTEL
My go-to site for booking flights is https://www.expedia.com/. I then check the airline’s official site to see if better offers are available. Oftentimes, booking directly with the airline results in better deals. We also look at neighboring airports to see if departing from different locations will give us better pricing.
We own a timeshare. So looking for a hotel, especially for a week long stay or longer, means we get to pick from resorts that are listed on our timeshare’s portfolio. It’s best to know your dates as soon as possible because a lot of the popular hotels can have wait lists.
If you’re booking directly with the hotel, make sure to check for specials or packages. These can sometimes save money and time by having activities already prepared for you.
Browsing through a hotel search site like Hotels, Expedia or Kayak is also a good idea. It can be hit or miss with finding a deal for your specific hotel but if you’re open to staying elsewhere, I’ve found awesome deals on these sites.
START MAKING AN ITINERARY
I use the term “itinerary” very loosely. I’m not someone who likes to have each day planned out for me. That, to me, is the opposite of a vacation. I do, however like to make lists of things to do and places to see while we are at said destination.
How do I do that?
The first thing I do is open Google Maps. From there I will look through the satellite view and see what points of interest are in the area. I also like to create lists within the Google Maps app to make accessing places easier. If we’re making dinner plans, I will pull up the list “Cabo Restaurants” and see which place we’d like to go. I also like to create a “Must Go” list which is basically a short list of places we have to see or do before we head back home. This “Must Do” list has saved us from a lot of regret. It’s easy to forget all the things you wanted to do once you get to your destination. Plus, you never know if you will ever return to this same place. So you might as well make it a point to do the must-do things.
PLANNING THE MINI GETAWAYS
Now that our BIG vacation is out of the way, it’s time for me to focus on our small getaways. These mini vacations are taken all throughout the year. Why limit adventures to just the Spring and Summer? Besides, it’s fun to visit cities when they’re all decked out in Christmas cheer.
There are 2 types of mini getaways we take- 1. Camping getaways. 2. Hotel stays.
The hotel stays are usually planned spontaneously and not necessarily booked in January. We get the itch every few weeks and we just have to go on an adventure. My parents call this making lekwatsa. It’s someone who likes to wander and roam. (Consider this your social studies lesson for the day. You’re welcome. LOL.)
Our camping getaways we like to plan ahead of time. The reason being is that campsites can fill up fast! California State Parks has its own reservation system called ReserveCalifornia. Here you can access 280 parks and book 6 months in advance from the current date. So, if you plan on camping in July, January is the month you should be booking.
Another website we utilize to book camping trips is Thousand Trails which has over 80 parks nationwide. Anyone can camp at these parks but if you’re a member, it’s deeply discounted. If you camp several times a year this might be a membership worth having.
There are several other campgrounds to visit. The 2 mentioned above are our go-to’s.
We can’t forget about our fur babies. Our pets are also a part of the equation when finalizing vacation plans. For vacations that require flying, that means dog sitters must be scheduled. We like to use Rover to for our dog sitting needs. If we’re only going to be gone a couple of days, a pet-friendly hotel is our preference. However, Bailey, our Great Dane usually stays behind with a sitter. For camping trips, most campgrounds are dog friendly so we are able to bring our dogs if we choose to.
That’s pretty much all we do to plan our vacations. Let me know if there’s something I forgot to mention in the comments below!