If you're a busy parent juggling life who just realized your kid's team won't be making this year's baseball playoffs or your daughter decided not to attend summer camp then you need to make some last minute family vacation plans - it's not too late. That's the good news.
If you're googling this topic, chances are you'll see plenty of posts for the "best" 2019 family vacations. While these kind of posts offer great ideas and inspiration, they can lead you down a deep black hole of aimless searching. Often these "best of the best" posts are really best for the advertisers paying to have writers and experts to post them. Same holds true for crowd sourcing vacation ideas on social media. Your friends and followers may have the very best of intentions but not fully understand your family's needs or budget.
Let's face it, summer is already here. If your family still wants to go someplace fun then you need to work efficiently and fast.
1. Start with a Realistic Budget
This most important point for hard working parents so it's often the best place to start vacation planning.This is also a difficult topic to nail down because budgets, finances and goals are completely different for every family.
Parents should start by understanding typical family vacation costs. Once you understand what things cost then it's easy to apply them to your family's specific situation. It's also important to calculate total costs like food, sightseeing and fun - not just the cost of a hotel room or plane tickets. It will help you stay on track, give your family vacation planning some focus and help you confidently make the right decisions.
Due to the last minute nature of your trip, it's important to realize you'll need to pay in full for any reservations. Check your credit card balances and available funds because you'll need to act quickly when it comes time to book. If you plan to use airline miles or credit card points check your accounts and any blackout dates in advance to avoid disappointment. Having an established family travel budget in advance will give you focus, will help you determine how far you can go and your style of travel.
2. Nail Down Your Summer Travel Dates
With a last minute trip, you need to act and react quickly. Triple check everyone's calendar to make sure there are no important scheduling conflicts. Also double check back to school dates for all the schools your children attend. If your family isn't tied to a school calendar or if you have little ones that aren't yet in school, I highly recommend postponing your "summer" vacation to September. When everyone else's kid is in school you'll score much better family travel deals and steals.
3. What Trip Is Best For Your Family
With dates and a budget, the next decision is what type of trip are you looking for? "Why" is your family taking this vacation? What do you want to get out of this trip?
It's much easier to find your family's perfect vacation if you know what memories you want to have once it's over. Knowing your budget will let you know how far you can go and what your travel style will be - luxury, moderate or budget.
4. Make Sure Your Family Has Reservations
Don't think you can just hop in the car and simply wing it...because there are millions of other families traveling with kids thinking the same exact thing. This doesn't just apply to airline tickets and hotel rooms. If your family has their heart set on swimming with with dolphins, visiting alcatraz or camp in that National Park it's important to check availability and make reservations for your activities and fun too in order to avoid disappointment. You don't want to be rushing for a flight with all the airport parking spots taken.
5. Make Sure Everyone's Passport is Valid
If your family is heading overseas. be sure to double check the expiration date of everyone's passport before paying for your vacation. Many countries now require passport expiration dates are valid for 6 months beyond your return trip date. If passports need to be updated, make sure you have enought time to get this done prior to your departure. Summer is the busiest travel season and it may be stressful getting your passports back in time. We're all busy but the last thing you want is to discover something like this when you arrive at airport check in and find out they won't let you on the plane!
6. Create Fun for Everyone
Family Vacations are for everyone in the family. With last minute planning means there isn't a lot of time for "vacation anticipation". Families are often comprised of many different personalities with different opinions of what is fun. Quick decision making doesn't often leave much time for debate but to insure a fun and memorable vacation, it's important to remember to include some special activities for each member of the family. Often these can be easy inclusions like a special dinner out for mom, a pool with a fun slide for your son, some time for your daughter to get her nails done or a great running trail for dad. It can sometimes be tricky to balance everyone's requests but it's a great way to honor every member of the family and make them feel special.
Please remember we travel agents are here to help make lives easier for busy parents life. All it takes is a short phone call with one of our team and we're off searching last minute availability, making your reservations and giving you the peace of mind knowing everything had been done properly. Most parents don't know how travel agents work. Imagine having someone on your side that saves you time, worry and money without costing you money. That's somebody you should have on your side.