Let's pretend you've decided to throw a fabulous party. Imagine what would happen if you simply got up at that very moment and went food shopping?
You would have no idea who is coming so you wouldn't know how much food to buy. You haven't set a date so your food might spoil before your guests arrive. Chances are you'd wander up and down the aisles aimlessly. This scenario is a recipe for complete disaster and a total exercise in frustration. You're probably thinking...this is completely silly -right?
Everyone knows to plan a proper party, the host needs to start with some very basic information...
- WHO is invited to the party?
- WHAT kind of party is it?...birthday, super bowl, anniversary?
- WHERE will Dinner be served...Formal Dining room, Back yard BBQ
- WHEN are you going to have this party?
- Why are you throwing this party?...Are you honoring someone or just gathering friends?
- HOW MUCH will this cost? Are you serving Lobster or Hot Dogs?
Without this basic information trying to plan a party would be pointless. There is also a very good chance your party would end up being a total flop.
Planning a vacation is VERY similar to planning a great party. You need to start with these same 6 basic ingredients - Who?...What?...Where?...When?...Why?...How Much?
Would it surprise you to learn that the majority of parents start vacation shopping just like our pretend dinner party scenario. They feel tired and beaten, the light bulb goes off that they NEED a vacation...so they immediately start vacation shopping without first gathering their important ingredients.
So to save yourself grey hair and head aches, You WILL need answers to these very important vacation planning questions BEFORE you beginning shopping for any family vacation...
• Who will be going on this trip? -In order to see if there are enough seats on the plane or if your family will fit in a hotel room, it is important to know exactly how many people are planning to travel. This means how many adults and how many children plan on traveling. When it comes to the kids, it is also very important to include their ages. The rates for a 2 year old can be extremely different than the rates for a 16 year old. Be sure to note the ages of the children AT THE TIME OF TRAVEL. If you're child is 12 now but will turn 13 in November and you are trying to plan a trip for next spring, this may have an impact on the price of your trip and hotel occupancy rules.
• What Kind of vacation Do you want? -Do you want a very active vacation, a relaxed one or a balance of both. Focus on the type of trip you want to experience or the activities your family members enjoy. Do you want to do something educational like learning to ski, swimming with dolphins or simply sit on a perfect beach? Asking yourself some of these question will help narrow your choices. Put together your wish list for this trip. Be sure to compare notes with other family members too. More often than not, every family member will have a different agenda. That's fine...balance and compromise can be achieved. It's better to know all this information in the beginning than to be surprised and have to back track later on. Knowing what kind of trip you want to take will also help you answer your next question...
• Where Do You Want To Go? Read travel magazines, ask the advice of your vacationkids travel agent, search the web, talk to your friends and family and try to zero in on where you want to go. “Some place warm and cheap” or “We want to visit Europe” is a bit too vague. Your travel agent can help offer suggestions regarding specific resorts, locales or age specific activities for your kids. If you can't decide what you want to do, then focus on things you definitely do NOT want. This can also help your travel professional steer you in the right direction.
• When Do You Want To Go?-Flight and hotel prices can vary according to days of the week, time of day, holiday periods, time until departure date, full moons...you name it. You need to have preferred travel dates in order to get accurate pricing, availability information and make intelligent comparisons. It's good to be a little flexible, this way you may get a better choices of flight times and prices but you do need to have some specific travel dates in mind. If you tell us, "We can fly any day in May", murphy's law we will pick the exact day of your daughters important dance receital. WHEN should we start planning our vacation?...is another questions we get all the time. Airlines post rates 330 days in advance, Most hotels about a year out and cruise lines will allow reservations up to 1.5 years in in advance. The sooner you confirm your reservations, the more money you WILL save as well as having the most availablity choices.
• What is Your "Why" for this Vacation? - Is this your "dream" vacation to fulfill a bucket list wish?...Your first vacation together as a family?...Desperately need to getaway to relax, recharge and unplug?....celebrating a family milestone? Knowing your goals for this particular vacation will help guide many of your choices.
• HOW MUCH do you want to spend? Back to our dinner party scenario for just a moment...You can still have a fun party regardless of whether you're serving lobster or hot dogs. It' a matter of efficiency. Why waste your time pricing hot dogs if you plan to serve lobster and vise versa. A good travel agent already assumes you want the most value for your vacation dollar. If we find that very rare lobster for the price of a hot dog, we'll be sure to tell you about it because we love being heros. But seriously, it's important to focus on a budget because great rates on flights and hotels can sell our VERY quicly. This is especially true during school holiday weeks when many families need to schedule their vacations. To snag these great prices, you need to act decisively. If you're wasting time shopping for the wrong vacation products, you'll won't be able to make the right decisions at the right time that will save you money. If you found some great rate online, TELL your travel agent straight away. Chances are they will be able to meet or beat that rate or tell you why it's not as great a value as advertised.
So before you start family vacation planning - Plan to work efficiently...
1. Make a list!!!! Get answers to - Who?...What?...Where?...When?...Why?....and How Much?
2. Discuss your list with your family - Make sure everyone is on the same page
Having focus and some organization will help insure everyone will get the most fun and memories out of your next family vacation.
We hope you will invite Vacationkids to be a part of your vacation planning party!