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10 Steps to Planning a Family Vacation

Next month, my little family is taking a much needed vacation! This will be our first real trip together, just the three of us and will also be Mason’s first time on an airplane. A few months back when my husband and I first decided to escape New England and vacation somewhere warm and by the beach, we quickly got to work, planning out all the exciting details. Now for some, the thought of planning and executing a trip with little ones, may seem stressful and exhausting, but it doesn’t have to be! The key is to start planning early and to do your best to prepare in key aspects, such as packing, surviving the airport / plane-ride and all other related logistics.

Here are 10 easy steps to follow when planning a family trip. Some steps may not pertain to every family or every vacation, but these are the considerations we made when booking our May vacation.

Sand and sun, here we come!

1. Determine Travel Dates: Examine your work and personal calendars and outline the days or weeks that work best for your family. Things that you may want to consider when looking at travel dates include, school vacation weeks (this may be the ideal time for you or may be less than ideal, due to heavier crowds), hurricane seasons (depending on where you are traveling) and  “off season” dates (as resorts often offer discounted pricing).

2. Set Destination: Once you have outlined a desired time for travel, start considering potential destinations. I find it best to outline a general area, such as “Florida” or “the Caribbean” and then look at several resorts, rental homes or hotels within that region, keeping in mind that not every venue will have availability during your desired travel dates. Other things to consider when determining a family destination include, length of the drive / flight, ease of travel (are passports or vaccinations required?), regional safety, kid friendliness and budget.

3. Rewards Points: Do you have any travel related points that you can apply to your trip? Take a look at your credit card points, frequent flier points and hotel rewards points. For my family, we are avid Marriott goers and continuously accumulate rewards by way of business travel and the Marriott Rewards credit card. One of the first things that we do is research Marriott related properties, within the region that we are considering and then determine the point requirements for our desired length of stay, during our intended travel week.

4. Hotel Selection: Outline hotel, resort or rental home requirements and search for properties within your desired area and identify those that best suit your needs. For us, we were looking for a Marriott Vacation Club (accepting points), that is directly on the beach, with ocean front rooms, full kitchen, outdoor pool, kiddie pool / splash pad, on-site playground, as well as on-site dining options. We were fortunate enough to secure a venue that met this criteria for five nights, wahoo!

5. Airline Selection: Once the hotel has been secured, begin looking at flights (if needed). Again, consider airlines that may accept your frequent flier miles / points and those that have flights that are compatible with your schedule and budget. Things to consider when booking include, flight times (we intentionally booked during nap-time), lay-overs (no, thank you!), in-flight entertainment and price. For those of you traveling with little ones, I may suggest purchasing an extra seat for children under the age of two, especially for longer flights. Our little guy is only 1, but he will have his own seat on the plane, which allows us to avoid checking his car-seat and also increases the likelihood of him napping while on-board.

6. Transportation: Will you require a rental car during your stay? If you are on the fence, research the distance from the airport to your resort and also the proximity of the beach, activities and restaurants from your hotel. Many hotels may offer airport shuttles and depending on the area, you may also be able to grab a taxi or Uber from your resort to the local hot spots. If you decide to book a rental car, research coupon codes ahead of time and also consider car size, based on number of people and luggage capacity.

7. Research / Book Activities: Once lodging has been secured, research family friendly activities within the area and if desired, book ahead of time. A great starting point is to contact the hotel directly and see what they recommend, while staying at their resort. Hotel concierge may be able to secure discounted pricing on local attractions including, theme parks, zoos, aquariums, golf and more.

8. Meal Plan: Depending on where you will be staying, the degree of meal planning will vary. Does your hotel or rental home have a refrigerator and or full kitchen? If so, research nearby grocery stores for stocking up once you arrive. Are there restaurants on-site? What is in the general area for dining options? Consider options for three daily meals, plus snacks and drinks and also examine hours of operation, price and kid friendliness, by looking at restaurant websites and menus, ahead of time.

9. Pack & Ship: Prior to beginning the packing process, I always make a packing list for each person. I outline the number of outfits required, in addition to the types of outfits needed, including beach, day-casual, dinner-formal, etc. When packing, consider whether or not your hotel / rental home will have a washer and dryer, which may substantially cut down on the number of items needed. Also, depending on where you are traveling and whether or not you will be checking a bag, consider shipping larger items, such as formula or diapers, directly to your hotel. If you are staying in a more establish area, you may be able to pick up these items upon arrival at a local grocery store.

10. Get Excited: Start to talk up the trip to your family and kiddos. For older kids, show them photos of where you will be staying and some things that you will be doing.

I hope these ten steps are helpful when planning your next family getaway. I can’t wait to share details and photos of our vacation with you all. May cannot come soon enough!

Thank you for reading and as always, feel free to comment below with any questions or feedback or to
contact me directly!

– B

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