If you are following along in the vacation planning series, you know the first thing we have to tackle is deciding where to go. The destination you choose is the most important one because it will dictate the next four steps. We often take trips as a family and we have since the kids were younger. Our family is small; I have one sister, my parents, and the four of us. Vacation planning wasn’t as tough as it is now that we are 15-20 years down the road. More people have to coordinate time off from work, more people want their own rooms, and we all have pets which need places to stay while we are away. Now, I’m no pro when it comes to vacation planning; these are just what I have found has worked for us. I’m not sure how your family is, but we all have a variation of places we would like to visit. And it makes for a fun time figuring out where we all would like to go.
How do you decide where to go? (with kiddos)
Well let’s start with kids. If you don’t have kids, then you can skip this. Kids are generally entertained just about anywhere, I mean camping for vacation is ALWAYS a great idea. They get to experience nature, see wildlife, building an appreciation for the world around them. And hello, s’mores, hot dogs roasted, dirt, twigs, you name it. Kids love that stuff. Head to your state website and start locating campgrounds near you. Even if you have to drive a couple hours away; it’s a quick weekend trip and not a long car ride for the littles. Since we are on the west coast, we went to Lake Shasta and Trinity Forest a LOT. Southern Oregon has some great camping sites as well, especially along the Rogue River. Plus they were all pet friendly, so the pups traveled with us as well.
Since we lived in Eugene, OR, we traveled to Portland frequently. Bigger cities often have more to do. Portland is home to OMSI, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. This was a favorite mini-vacation for the girls. It’s all hands on, rotating exhibits and plenty to do in a whole days time. Phoenix, AZ has the Children’s Museum which is similar but on a much smaller scale. Still plenty to do to keep the kiddos engaged and tired by the end of the day. Both Portland and Phoenix are a mecca for food and activities and they have a great mass rapid transit system that is efficient and affordable. Just don’t go to Phoenix in August. It’s hot and in the middle of monsoon season.
Cruising is another great option. We decided it was time when the girls were 6 and 8 to try a cruise and they actually did great. We started with a small 3-day cruise out of Long Beach. To our surprise they did great and most of the kid friendly cruise lines have a ton of activities for the kids. It’s also an inexpensive way to travel since it’s pretty much all-inclusive. Many cruise lines have last minute specials and can be an inexpensive way to experience other countries.
How do you decide where to go? (Older kids or no kids)
We have continued our tradition of going somewhere pretty much every year as the kids have grown. The challenges become a bit different between school and work schedules. It’s not realistic to pull them out for a vacation when they are missing critical information. So you begin to travel when everyone else is, can you say expensive? You begin to get a little more creative; more short road trips, weekend trips and such. Now when we take family trips, there’s a bit more that goes into deciding what destination we are traveling to. Since we get together almost every holiday, that’s when we typically hash out where everyone wants to go. Some agree, some don’t but generally we agree on one place where we could all go and be content.
If you typically go on vacation as a family, don’t be afraid to split up the vacations too. Girls and guys trips are just as fun and sometimes it’s easier to come to an agreement. Plus, everyone’s happy! As the kids get older, make sure you are asking for their input as well. You don’t want cranky teenagers on your trip. Trust me. You don’t.
Couples have the easiest decision on where to go. It’s just you two. Figure out your budget, and go! Road tripping is the best and sometimes just driving and ending up somewhere is the coolest vacation ever! But seriously, for couples, it’s all about the budget. If you are a planner, Pinterest is a great place to compile places to go and things to do. You still will want to come to an agreement on a place to go but it’s much easier! Hang around foodies, because you’ll want to know how Jacob and I find all the good eats!
Next in the vacation planning series (that will seriously change your life!) is deciding what to do when at your chosen vacation spot. Whether you camp just down the road or travel across the world, deciding now what things are non-negotiable activities are going to save you a TON of time once you get there. Not to mention you could save a lot of money by booking these activities ahead of time! Join me next week on “Vacation Planning – Decide what to do”. In the meantime, what are some places on your bucket list?