Family vacations create a lifetime of memories, laughter and, of course, tons of photos preserving the time spent together. If you don’t want to have your experience hampered with financial burden, or regret from poor planning, you’ll want to keep the following four considerations in mind:
Method of Travel
When we weighed our travel options for our recent trip to Disney, we not only did a cost comparison, but took the time of year and our son’s age (the fact that he’s still in a car seat) into consideration.
Traveling in February, weather was a serious concern, and my husband pushed for us to consider taking the train or driving down ourselves. I’m glad we didn’t fly, as my in-laws’ original flight was canceled due to a storm, and they ended-up arriving a day-and-a-half later than expected.
Trains are the best mode of transportation, if you have the time and the budget, as you don’t have the long advance check-in time, the journey from parking to terminal, the hassle of paying for each bag you take along, and the fuzzy aftereffects of pressurized cabins (and the higher likelihood of catching colds). I also prefer trains because of the ample leg room, the ability to wander in the aisles, adjustable seats, snack carts, and free Wi-Fi, among numerous other perks. I’ve actually chosen to take the train, in lieu of flying, for job interviews because there is far less hassle involved in travel.
That being said, your travel method deserves a significant amount of consideration when planning a trip; if you make a poor choice, it could potentially cause hours worth of headaches, and cause you to pay more than necessary (hello hidden baggage fees – been there, done that).
Thanks to websites like Airbnb, you have more choices than ever when considering accommodations! Our son does not do well staying in the same room as us, and we end up sleep deprived as a result, so we typically opt for suites with separate rooms. We’re planning a trip to England in the next year or so, and we’ll likely decide an apartment is better for us because of the cost and flexibility it offers us (not to mention a separate room for our son to sleep).
The length of your trip is another factor that impacts heavily on plans. For example, weekend getaways are easy with school-aged children, as you don’t have to plan around school. However, you may find that it’s not economical to travel too far away from home unless you stay in the destination for at least a week (we did Disney in 6 days – two driving, four in parks – I don’t recommend it!).
As you weigh the pros and cons associated with trips of differing lengths, don’t forget potential extra expenses that might be necessary if you decide on a longer stay; you might need to hire a pet sitter or get someone to water your flowers while you’re gone (unless you only have cacti and air plants, in that case, you’re good).
Your Overall Budget
This is where things can get a little tricky, and I suggest padding your budget for the unexpected. Spend time pondering how much you can afford to spend on the entire trip, and decide if there’s flexibility in that figure or if it’s firm.
If cost is a definite concern, keep in mind that the location you choose as your destination can greatly impact how much you spend. Insurance agents are your greatest allies when it comes to traveling, not only in terms of car rental and costs of living in different areas, but in the event the unplanned happens before or during your vacation — thank goodness my in-laws had purchased travel insurance!
These are only a few of the expense-related things you should consider when planning your family trip. The more you plan in advance, the less likely you’ll encounter unpleasant surprises and hidden costs. Bon voyage and safe travels!