Just kidding... but most of us would be happy to escape from life anyday and enjoy a wonderful family vacation.
Timing is a HUGE consideration as you start to plan a family vacation. It can effect your enjoyment, your work & school schedule and ultimately the price you pay for your trip. Every family is unique and different. Technically this means the title of this post should probably be when is the best time to take YOUR family vacation?...Here are some things you should consider -
When is the Best Time to Travel? - This is one of those vague and complicated questions like which of your kids do you love the most. The answer is, "It Depends" (Let's be totally honest here - you probably didn't love the kid that let the bathtub overflow at that very moment now did you? It took you a while to recover and clean up the wet sheet rock. That's OK! This is probably why you REALLY need a vacation in the first place.)
Sometimes the "best" vacation time is pre-determined for you by your destination. For example, Family cruises to Alaska only happen in the summer because icebergs simply aren't that much fun. On the flip side a family ski vacation may be a bit of a gamble when Easter break falls in April. You may get a bit of a price break but you may not have much snow either depending on where you're headed.
Travel is all about supply and demand. This means, family travel mostly hinges on school calendars. If you're looking to get the cheapest price on a family vacation, your best bet is probably the second week of Sept. If you happen to be a school teacher then you're probably screwed. If you're family is looking to escape the winter snow in Buffalo you'll pay more for that Winter Caribbean vacation during high season than the family heading to that same beach in June.
As you can see from just these few examples, there are a lot of variables when it comes to family vacation timing and planning. This is why it's often a good idea to talk to a travel agent at this tire kicking stage. A good agent can help steer your thinking in the right direction and offer you suggestions and alternatives that you never even thought about. This could save you a ton of time, hassle and money later on.
Schedules - Between work, school, activities, sports and other committments just finding a few empty days on the calendar can feel impossible. Juggling everyone's priorities can seem like the ultimate circus act. You need to gather everyone in the family together in the same place at the same time (I find the aroma of hot pizza facilitates this feat in my home). Pull out all your calendars, your color coded refrigerator charts or what ever you use to to keep your household running like clockwork and get synched. Make sure everyone is on the same page and hopefully fully invested in your vacation travel dates. If sacrifices or compromises must be made try to balance this with some sort of reward, especially with tweens and teens. It will make for a much more enjoyable time for all. Insider tip: Nothing makes a travel agent's eyes roll more than getting the call from a client saying they forgot all about their son's little league tournament and they need to switch their airline reservations. Agents don't want to hear you complain about the $1000 it's now going to cost you. It's not their fault. Please don't be THAT person. We're on your side. We don't want your kid to be disappointed and we don't want to see you spend more to please get it right the first time.
Time off - Make sure you CAN take time off from work or school. Knowing the rules and procedures ahead of time to get this clearance may save you a ton of hassle, frustration and airline change fees in the end. See above insider tip.
Last Minute Doesn't Mean Savings - This idea messes people up all the time. Vacation timing is not just about WHAT time of year you take your trip...it's also about WHEN you make your vacation reservations. Planning ahead saves money!
Impromtu vacations may have worked back in your college days when you were backpacking in hostels all over Europe. It's not the same when your trying to get last minute airline tickets and a hotel with space for a family of five. 95% of the time last minute = pay more. Planning ahead is the way to save BIG money on family vacations. Using a vacation layaway program on any family vacation will help you save even more. Besides, having a great family vacation to look forward to will help you continue to love the other kid that just painted the cat!