Look, no one just wakes up in a late June morning and goes “Hey kids! Pack your bags! We’re headed to Fiji!”
Doesn’t work that way. Our summer family vacations take at least 6 months of planning. Over the years we’ve become experts at planning these trips and we want to share the planning process.
First things first, we don’t borrow money. For anything. No credit cards, car loans, school loans, we just don’t do debt. A home loan may be an option in the future, but the general rule for our family is, if you don’t have the money, you don’t buy it. So the idea of putting the trip on a credit card or using Visa points is NOT an option. So here are our basic four steps.
Step 1: Dream Date
Dreaming out loud is exciting! It’s ok, be all nerdy about it. Grab a pen and pad, go out to your favorite coffee shop and talk about it. Do we want a beach destination, a national park or metropolis? If you’re traveling with children, keep in mind they need to be entertained. What dates are available? Jot down some ideas and narrow it down to two or three destinations.
Step 2: Know What it Costs:
Start pricing out total costs of your options. Consider transportation, accommodations, activities, park entry fees, etc. One area that is often overlooked is the cost of a location once you’re on the ground. Taxi fare and cost of food add up quickly. Cost may ultimately be the deciding factor for your family. Once you’ve come to an agreement on destination and know the cost, you’re ready to budget.
Step 3: Budget
This is where your 5th grade long division kicks in. You estimate your trip will cost $2,200. You have 10 months to save this amount. Divide and you realize saving $220 a month for the next ten months is very reasonable! It may be that you have to cut something out of your life this year to make the trip happen. But the great thing about planning ahead is there are no surprises. You know what you’re getting yourself into.
Step 4: Book
The most exciting thing in the world is hitting that button and it’s official! WE OUT!
After you’ve done your due diligence in planning and budgeting, booking is stress and guilt free. You worked hard, you earned it. We recommend booking US National Parks six months in advance. Accommodations fill up fast! For international flights it seems 2 months is the sweet spot. It might help to add one of those fare alert apps to ensure you don’t miss any deals to your desired destination.
The hardest part is planning an event that is so many months away. We live in a microwave culture where we want everything to happen now. Patience. Every step of the process is joyful in its own right.
The blog can also be followed on Instagram @tooomanysteps