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Planning a Family Vacation

I am already starting to think about what our family is going to do over Winter break. I usually like to either plan a family vacation or a staycation. Here are the steps and thought processes I go through when planning a family vacation.

1. Do you want to drive or fly?

First you need to think about whether you want to drive or fly to your family vacation destination. The following are some things you may want to consider when making this decision.

>How much time do you have?

>How much of your vacation time do you want to spend driving or maybe even have to stop overnight?

>What does your budget look like? Flying costs significantly more especially if you are a family of 6 like us. Also, depending on your destination you may need to rent a car when you get there which also increases your costs.

This winter break we decided we are going to drive.

2. How much time do you want to spend traveling to your destination?

Next, if you choose to drive you will want to decide how far you want to drive. Ask yourself these questions.

  • How long will we be able to drive each day? 
  • How many days of travel versus being at our actual vacation destination will we have?

Alternatively, if you choose to fly, consider these questions.

  • Are you looking for nonstop flights?
  • How many stops and/or layovers are you willing to have?
  • How does this factor in with the price of flights?

Since we are driving and we have a very busy one year old and energetic three year old, we decided 10 hours one way is our maximum drive time. This brings us to the next step–looking for a destination within 10 hours of our home.

3. What destinations are within your desired travel time frame?

Since 10 hours one way is our maximum drive time, I chose a few different destination options within that 10 hour time frame. For us, the four main destinations under consideration were Wisconsin Dells, Minneapolis, Denver, and Dallas. 

If you are flying and you want a nonstop flight, then look at destination options that provide you a nonstop flight within your budget and times you want to fly.

4. Deciding on a Destination

At this point in my traveling planning when I have a few different vacation ideas narrowed down, I next consider which destinations have the best options for lodging for our family as well as what family friendly activities exist.

I did some research and made a list of fun family friendly attractions at each destination. 

Additionally, I started looking at lodging choices. When making my lodging decision I consider the following:

  • Are there enough beds for everyone to comfortably sleep?
  • How much room do we want in general?
  • Can we fit in a studio, one bedroom suite, or do we want to find a 2-bedroom?
  • What is the cost per night?
  • Does it have a pool?
  • What other amenities do we want?

Next, I research a potential place to stay at each destination that meets all of my criteria and then look at the attractions/things to do at the destination. I use both of these lists to make my final choice.

I ended up picking a Homewood Suites in the Dallas area. This hotel was actually reasonably priced, and I was able to use some rewards points I had. The hotel room we chose is a two bedroom plus a living area with a kitchen so we have plenty of space for all six of us to sleep. The hotel also has a really nice outdoor pool (hoping for some decent weather).

We also found some fun things that we want to do in the Dallas area so with that in mind plus the hotel I found that was the decision. Stay tuned for a future post detailing our Dallas trip.

5. Book your family vacation!

Finally after you have made your decision, book your vacation!

If you are flying, book your flight.

If you plan your driving route and want to plan a stop along the way consider booking that too. >Make sure you take a look at cancellation policies just in case.

Book your lodging at your destination. >Again you may want to consider cancellation policies in case of illness or delay, etc.

Book or make a list of any attractions you want to visit while at your destination. 

There you have it–the five main steps you need to take for planning your family vacation.

To review….determine if you want to drive or fly, consider how much time you want to spend actually traveling to your destination, make a list of destinations that will work given your desired travel time frame and budget, take your list and look at lodging options and attractions for each destination, and finally choose your destination and book it!

Happy traveling! May you love your adventure. KW

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