Travel Planning Updated for 2018
How To Find, Plan and Book A Family Vacation
Copyright 2011 Smart-Travelers.com.. All rights reserved.
Now is absolutely the best time to take a family vacation. You may think you cannot afford a real
vacation, but I'm here to tell you that anyone can find great bargains out there. It is still a buyer's
market. We are seeing some of the best vacation deals since we started traveling years ago. So if you
have ever wanted to take a nice family vacation, we highly recommend you consider doing so very
soon. Everyone from Disney to major cruise lines are still having to cut their prices drastically, to keep
a flow of customers. Take advantage now, as they won't be there forever. Check our our Top Family
The Best Vacation Deals Ever!
Choosing a family vacation destination is not as easy as it sounds. You need to consider what climate
you're looking for, how much time you have, how much you want to spend and what type of vacation.
Most travel agents and travel sites have vacations broken down into four major types: 1) Vacation
Packages 2) On Our Own 3) Tours and 4) Cruising. Each of these offer a different experience and
has pros and cons.
Vacation Packages - Many travel sites have now bundled packages that include air, hotel and rental
car. These packages can be an excellent bargain and fit almost any vacation timeframe. Many
packages also include all-inclusive hotels. If you are looking for a vacation where everything is
included and you're not pulling your money out every ten minutes to pay for things a la carte, then you
may want to consider all-inclusive. This normally includes airport transfers, accomodations, meals,
drinks (even alcoholic at some places) and activities. You can get more for your money on package
deals but they are not as flexible as if you built your own travel plan.
On Your Own - If you have the time to research travel booking sites, you can pull together your own
vacation package that meets all of your family's needs. If you only have a weekend you might want to
consider a quick weekend city getaway. Many airlines offer air and hotel options that are great for
short getaways. We have used, and recommend, Southwest Airlines and American Airlines but
almost all carriers offer some type of air/hotel combo. Planning your own vacation gives you lots of
flexibility and you are assured the activities and meals are what you want. Just remember that building
your own will take longer and may cost you more as you're buying everything separately.
Tours - Tours are an exceptional way to travel if you want to see the major highlights of an area
without the hassle of driving and finding hotels. I especially recommend tours to retired folks or folks
that are not comfortable with traveling on their own. Tour companies put together packages that
normally include transportation, accomodations, some meals, tour guides and activities. If you are
traveling internationally, this is the way to go. No need to learn the language or worry about booking a
hotel in the wrong part of town. Tour companies employ multi-lingual guides that handle everything for
you including your luggage. My wife and I opted for a tour when we went to Australia and New Zealand
several years ago. In 14 days we saw all of the major sites in both countries with the tour company
handling everything. It was tiring, but hassle free.
Cruising - Cruising is much like a tour, but your resort goes with you from place to place. With over
20 cruises under our belts, we really love them. Cruising is one of the most economical and
hassle-free vacations you can take. You carry your luggage on board and unpack it once. Cruises
have changed immensely since we took our first in 1988 (our Honeymoon). There are lots of cruise
lines, ships, departure ports and destinations to choose from. They now offer them from 3 days to as
much as 14 days and more. Cruise lines are opening new departure ports every year, making it much
easier to find one near you. This topic is so large that I have dedicated an entire page to it. Check out
Cruises and Cruising.
Picking Your Family Vacation
It used to be that you had to visit a Travel Agent to book a trip, but those days have changed. There
are still Travel Agents in business, but many charge you a fee now as most airlines no longer pay
commissions. Cruise lines can now book your cruise directly over the phone. If you are not
comfortable using the internet or giving your credit card information out online then I suggest you
consider a Travel Agent or book directly with your selected airline, hotel or cruise line. Since you
found this website I will assume you are internet savvy.
Nowadays you can book almost any kind of vacation right over internet. You will actually find that
airlines and hotels offer discounts when you book directly on the internet, since they no longer have
to employ as many agents. See Travel Bargains for links to current sales. Here are some sites I
use when booking my travel:
Cheapflights - Find flights to destinations around the world by date as well as an open date option,
where there are special deals from carriers and travel providers.
Tripadvisor.com - The web's best source for unbiased hotel reviews and travel information.
Orbitz.com - Full service online booking agent with price guarantees.
Travelocity.com - Full service and very easy to use booking for package deals, cruises, air and
Expedia.com - Also easy to use; offers package deals, cruises, air and rental cars.
Seatguru.com - Information on seating on almost all airlines. Excellent site.
How to Book Your Family Vacation
Before booking your travel arrangements, there are some things that you need to consider. I've
made many mistakes when booking that cost my family delays, money and impacted our overall
experience. Just consider these when making your arrangements:
Book Early - There's nothing more disappointing then losing a flight or hotel because you didn't
book early enough. This is even more true when you're looking to travel during a holiday. Almost all
holiday weekends will sell out early so don't wait. You may regret it. Also, many airlines and hotels
offer discounts for early booking, and if you wait, you may lose the discount. It is true that there are
last minute deals, but you may not get the dates or hotels you want.
Consider Going A Day Early - If you are flying to a cruise or tour you really should consider
arriving a day early. Unfortunately, airline delays are all too common these days. There is no worse
sick feeling than sitting in an airport when you know your cruise or tour is leaving soon. Unless you
have booked your air with the cruise or tour company, they aren't going to wait for you. Even if you
did book with them, they won't wait for very long. We've seen many families miss their vacations due
to flight issues. Don't be one of them.
Buy Travel Insurance - Unless you like taking a risk, I highly recommend investing in travel
insurance. Most policies cover trip delays, cancellations and even lost luggage. They also cover
medical evacuations, which can be quite costly when you're in a foreign country or on a cruise ship.
There are lots of insurance options so be sure to shop around.
Don't Forget Your Passports - If your travel includes any countries outside of the US then you
need to make sure you have a passport. Nowadays, this even includes Mexico, the Caribbean
countries and Canada. It can take as much as 6 weeks, less if you pay to expedite the process.
Click here for US Passport office.
Don't Overpack - No matter what type of vacation you've booked, don't overpack. With airlines
charging everything from $20 to as much as $50 for extra bags you don't want to get hit with a huge
bill at the airport. My family has learned to travel light. Its easier to pack, easier to unpack and will fit
into your room or cruise cabin much easier.
Have FUN!! - Don't forget you're going on vacation to have fun. Even if things go wrong, just try to
make the best of it. Half of the vacation is spending time with your family. My family got stuck in New
York one year while we were on our way to Bermuda. We lost a day of our vacation and had to
spend the night in an hotel in a questionable part of New York City. We were upset, but we tried to
enjoy the experience and just laugh it off. In the end, we will remember that night longer than the rest
of the trip.
Things You Should Know for 2018
Light Weight Luggage