I understand that plans change and that sometimes people don't know what is going to happen; therefore it's difficult to make definitive plans, but with that being said, prior planning will generally save a lot of time, frustration, and money. Yes, I know that there are countless websites that purport unbelievable, deep discounted vacations, but at what cost? Unless you are a person that can just jump on a plane or cruise at a moments notice (literally), then planning is crucial so that you get the experience you truly want. Last minute travel can be great, but is not my idea of "fun" when you are doing it with a family in tow.
- Select your top 3 destinations early and research them to narrow down to your top choice, that way if one or two are out of your budget, or just won't work, you still have other options to fall back on.
- Work with a travel professional to assist you with your plans, even if you have done your own preliminary research, there are a host of travel professionals that specialize in family vacations.
- Set a reasonable budget. Yes, reasonable is a relative term; however, some people want to have everything, without paying too much...it usually doesn't work out that way. Are there specials? Absolutely, but oftentimes you have to be on top of it and ready to book right then in order to ensure you get those specials.
- Don't be afraid to place a deposit. Most trips will require an upfront deposit, but they are usually fully refundable, less a nominal processing fee. If you change your mind within the allotted time frame, you can get that money back, but at least you've locked in a rate and that can become important when space is limited, which leads to number 5.
- When booking a cruise, the sooner you know, the better. There is a lot of volatility in cruise prices, and while there are times where the cruise ships are unable to fill the spaces and will offer some discounted rates, that usually doesn't happen very often during June - August. I've seen prices for cruises that were one price in January, but had almost doubled in their price by May. In that case, if a family had booked in January, then they are paying far less than the family who decided in May to go on a cruise in June.
- Stay positive and enjoy your vacation. It's easy to get overwhelmed by all of the planning, but I caution everyone against that overload that causes you to just want to "get it over with." This is something that cost a lot of money, and should be looked forward to, not dreaded!
Wherever your plans may take you - Chicks That Trip wishes you happy trails!