How far in advance do you plan your family vacation? Are you ‘spur of the moment’ travellers, or do you prefer travel planning well in advance, even up to a year ahead?
We’re in the midst of some heavy trip planning going into spring 2014, with solid travel plans for spring and summer 2013 already booked and in some cases, even paid for. I also posed this question via our Facebook page, and those respondents were universally in the ‘plan ahead‘ category, apparently to the frustration of some more spontaneous spouses.
We tend to do a little of both – short and long-term planning styles. It really depends on where we’re going, who else might be involved in the trip, and the length of trip time.
Some things to think about:
The more people involved, the longer the lead time
If you’re travelling with other people – grandparents, relatives, other families – more advance planning, scheduling, savings and coordination will be required. Once a common date and destination are decided upon though, there’s lots of time to iron out smaller trip details closer to departure time.
Penny saved, penny earned
By booking well in advance, you can take advantage of early season airline seat sales, with choice of routes, dates and seat choices. While waiting until the last minute may result in some cheaper fares, the selection and flexibility of dates and routes might be more limited or non-existent. The same holds true if using points to book air travel, especially in high season and during school holidays (pretty much the same thing!).
Your choice of destination, season and accommodation, may influence your planning style. If there’s a hotel or resort you really want to stay at, or a homestay you wish to arrange, or an aunt’s apartment in Paris that you’d like to borrow for two weeks in July, you’ll need to provide early warning and book accordingly.
Good planning is family-friendly
Planning a road trip and not knowing where you’re going to sleep the first night is wonderful fun when you’re a young couple on a spontaneous adventure. It’s quite different when you find yourself and the kids sleeping in the car because you couldn’t find a hotel room for the night.
It’s great peace of mind to pre-book hotels on route and have a destination in mind that’s within comfortable driving distance for the kids. Visiting attractions, restaurants and quirky stops on the way makes the road trip even more fun and memorable. The trip is the destination, if you’ve planned it right.
Build the excitement
Planning a trip in advance is nearly as exciting as taking the actual holiday. Getting the family involved in the holiday plan can be motivational. It’s something to look forward to, like a reward at the end of a school year or the chance to visit someone special at Christmas. On the other side, spontaneous trips can be equally as exciting, especially if the destination is a special surprise to the kids.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Do you have a long-term trip planner style, or are you a spontaneous ‘let’s get out of dodge’ family traveller? Share your comments and tips below.