Picking the venue for a family vacation can be difficult. Although the end result is fun, weighing all the needs, wants and constraints can be tedious. Every other year we plan an extensive family vacation with my father and all of my siblings. There are 17 of us in all with 9 children, 6 parents and 2 grandparents. It can be complicated!
Here’s how I get started thinking about a family vacation:
Trip Needs: Check-in and get and idea about what everyone needs — meaning, are you all burnt out and you just need to lie on a beach? Are you looking for a fresh infusion of culture? Do you want something nature-focused? I try to get a sense for what and where people’s interests lie.
Timeline: When you can travel quickly narrows down the selection options because weather varies so greatly from place-to-place. To see what times of year are best suited for certain destinations, check out the great weather and destination chart on My Little Swans Blog.
When we planned our last big trip, everyone had job commitments and the only time that worked for all was Christmas break. Then, we knew we wanted a beach, which immediately narrowed the viable options for that time of year. Add in the fact that much of our group lives on the West Coast — Hawaii was an easy choice.
Brainstorm: Now that you know what you’re looking for and when, now get the group brainstorming. Generate a wide variety of ideas and go from there. Dream a little and help people expand out of their comfort zone.
We sometimes use tour operator itineraries to generate ideas. A family favorite is Classic Journeys. Amie just wrote an article about all the wonderful bloggers writing about traveling with kids. Perusing these websites is a fantastic way to get inspired!
At first, I really didn’t want to travel more than six hours with my 4 kids. However, as everyone got excited about the trip, I became more flexible. Evaluate the activities at each destination to see if they special enough to warrant the time, expense, and logistics to get there. For example, when we were thinking about traveling to Rome a few years ago, everyone was initially intimidated given the size of the group and ages of the children. However, when we started thinking about the rich opportunities to experience the best of Rome as a group through things like the Gladiator School and a local soccer/football game, concerns were overshadowed by excitement.
Budget: When you are dealing with the budget, a little research goes a long way. Before dismissing any ideas, really dig in and see what the cost will be. Follow even far off ideas! People are often surprised to learn that a Disney trip can be the same cost as a Tuscany trip. This is especially true if you go to places where the exchange rate is in your favor.
Create a short list of destinations and get preliminary quotes on accommodations and airfare based on your dates of travel. Real availability and pricing will narrow the list even more. Discuss your findings as a group and your answer will be there!
Trip planning with kids – history & geography websites
Trip planning with kids – read, read, read!
Travel journals for kids
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