Planning for our Annual Family Vacation begins as soon as our last vacation ends. We are budget travels so the first thing we do is decided on our destination and then we began setting up a budget.
Our budget is the most important factor in our travel.
Know before you go!
The most important part of travel is “How will this vacation cost”? Cost is the most important part of the vacation. I have found the more we plan & plot our vacation the less we spend. We have limits on what we are going to spend and the internet has become the most valuable resource when setting up a budget. Planning has been the key to our great summer vacations. From hotels rooms to fun if we doing it it’s planned for.
We know when and where we are going to eat and what we are going to do I believe in itineraries and having some type of direction. I am strict (on scheduling) but no so strict that we can’t venture outside the beaten path on occasion.
This year the following things were put into the budget:
Lodging-The kids are older and need their own space. Therefore the decision was made to get a suite or adjourning rooms. Suites are very-very expensive most start at 225 depending on the city. We began our search on the internet on hotel sites www.hotels.com etc. It is also a good idea to call hotels and inquired about special rates or discounts available. My sister is a Vet of United States Navy and often she receives a lot of discounted rates that you want see on the internet. So, it is important to call places to ensure you are getting the best rates and discounts along with internet specials.
Great Wolf Lodge-One of the most expensive places we will stay($409+taxs) on this vacation is the Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, NC. Great Wolf Lodge is an exciting and expensive treat but we have a built in ‘guilty pleasures” which for us means something we want do unless we are on vacation.
Large group- We are a large group there are 9 of us total. So if we did not find a suite we had to get an additional room for comfort. I came across www.sixsuitcasetravel.com which allows you to look for hotels rooms that offer accommodations to large families. I love this site and plan to use it for as long as we travel!
Another option that we have explored is HomeAway.com which offered homes for traveling families. This is great if you are a large group and want all the comforts of home while traveling with kids. You get lots of space and it cost about as much as a hotel room.
Food – Eating while on vacation can be expensive. Prior to going on vacation the kids have been briefed that while eating is a good thing we will not under any circumstances spend all our disposable income on food! Booking a suite gives us the advantage of cooking our own meals which will cut down on the cost of meals.
Paula Deen Restaurant- We will be stopping in Savannah and eating at the world famed The Lady and Two Sons Restaurant this by far will most expensive meal we will have the entire trip. The cost will be 13.99 per person for the buffet. This is a total guilty pleasure and the cost was added in at the last minute. www.ladyandsons.com
There are a lot of sites available and most cities have websites that give great detailed information on things to do for free. These sites also have calendar of events so you can check out festivals or concerts. You can also search for free things by city by putting in for example free things to do in Orlando, or whatever your destination and you will get a list of free things. We have decided to bring along a few extra bucks in case something catches our eye that we did not expect. I am listing our destination and the cost
Washington DC is FREE -(yahoo)- We also wrote our Senators for tickets to the Whitehouse & the Capitol other than that every other adventure we seek is paid for by our taxes. I am a book worm and can’t wait to go to the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress.
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute - we plan to give the kids a little history along the way. The cost of the BCRI is $12.00 per person.
Great Wolf Lodge is added to the cost of lodging because we will receive free tickets to the water park once we booked our room.
This year after careful consideration the destination is Washington DC with multiple stops along the way. We have plans to stop in Birmingham, Alabama, Atlanta and Savannah Georgia, Hilton, Concord, North Carolina, Silver Springs, Maryland.
**Tips to Remember**
*The internet is the best location to find deals. There are lots of blogs dedicated to travel with kids (see list of my favorite at the bottom).
*Calling for additional discounts that may not be on the internet is always an option. Also check the website of the cities you plan to visit they often have discounts for food & lodging that may not be on the internet.
*The bad economy has made traveling a lot less expensive for families as most destinations are trying to get visitors to come so deals
These are some of my favorite blogs & websites that were used to plan this trip. Awesome information and tips on travel. I love these sites because they take the hassle out of traveling with kids.