Okay, and so begins a series all about travel. As you know it’s one of my favourite things to do, in fact Kevin reckons I’m never happier than when I’m planning a holiday/vacation. He’s right in a way but one thing I’ve learned is that while planning is good, it’s only a guide and more often than not, things don’t go as planned. I’ve always loved to travel and it’s important to us as a family as Kevin works very long hours and often weekends, but it wasn’t until 2 years ago that I realized just how important it was too me – so much that I am prepared to forgo other things in order to travel. In the early years we travelled, and then worried about how we were going to pay for it. This year, for the first time ever I already have all the money I need for this trip, and part of the next one as well :-). But I have given up a lot of things I used to buy and we don’t go out anywhere near as much. It’s all about priorities and to me travel is a priority!
However, the first part of a holiday is the decision to take one, where to go and how to pay for it.
Once you decide you want/need to have a holiday you need to consider when you are going to do so, taking in consideration work and school commitments, how much time you have available (in Australia we get 4 weeks annual leave), what season you need to travel in (for a ski-ing holiday in Canada you need go in their Winter).
When we first started travelling, Kevin & I liked to go in December but once the girls got to school age that was no longer a good time to go (with end of year concerts, Christmas stuff, etc), we also don’t want the girls too miss any more school than necessary so we try to plan our trip to include at least some of the school holidays. We really prefer to travel at non-peak times and if you can manage that I definitely recommend it. Be sure to check local holiday periods for overseas destinations – esp. places like Disneyland and Disneyworld.
As for where to travel – that is such a person decision. We took one trip to USA and two to the UK before having kids, but when the kids came along Disney became the holiday of choice for many years (too many if you ask Kevin). We also discovered cruising. Both are fabulous family vacations. Now that the girls are older we’ve been able to expand our horizons and after two trips in Australia we’re heading back to the UK – with a cruise to Russia, Sweden, etc. We’re definitely starting to see more of the world. I recommend making a list of places – near and far – that you’d like to visit and then try to prioritise them (based on preference, time required and cost) . I actually made a 10 year plan for our overseas trip. But again be flexible. This UK trip was supposed to happen last year but with the economy so up in the air we decided to put it off for a year.
So you know when and where you’re going, but how are you going to pay for this trip? Most of us have limited finances so you either have a set budget and need to make the holiday fit that budget, or you can work out how much the trip will cost and then work out how you’re going to find the money for it. It’s basically the same thing I know but if you’ve got tighter finances option 1 will be the way to go. Don’t do what we did for many years – holiday on credit, then scramble to pay it back :-(.
It can be very hard trying to work out the finances of a trip and you need to play around with things.
Obviously airfares and accomodation will be a big percentage of an overseas trip. Accomodation is a personal thing – sometimes I can handle basic accomodations, other times I like a bit more luxury – usually it depends on how long I’ll be spending in my room. I have stayed in ALL types including this shed in the middle of no-where….talk about BASIC accomodation!
Most of time we opt for mid-range accomodation because while I like somewhere nice I also like to have money to spend on other things. You also need to factor in food costs. If you want to eat out every meal it’s going to chew up a lot more of your budget than if you prepare and cook your meals in an apartment. I don’t like eating out for all meals so even if we have a motel room we’ll usually do breakfast in our room – with bowls of cereal, bagels, etc.
Transportation can be another big cost. Shop around online for car hire and be sure to budget in insurance and petrol.
And then there is spending money. A daily budget can be difficult because you tend to spend more some days than other but a weekly amount is a good way of making sure you don’t overspend. Now that our girls are older we also give them a weekly amount to spend (plus they can use their own money). This really has stopped the constant asking for things as we walk through the gift shop at the end of every attraction. They are so much more careful with their selections.
And so now the planning begins in earnest. Next weeks post will be how to go about planning your trip.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this. Please if you’ve got any questions, input about this post or things you’d like to see covered in the future please write a note in the comments.