The public schools are on spring break right now. Several friends with kids in school are off on journeys, many of them outside of Alaska.
We are not taking time off at the moment, so there’s no big trip on the horizon. However, it’s the perfect time to start planning for trips this summer. Alaska is a BIG state with so many places to go and things to see.
Here are 10 travel tips for getting away with great family travel deals that I have used:
- Decide where you want to go. This might seem easier said than done as sometimes everyone in the family has a different idea of what they want to do on a ‘vacation.’ Mr O is making his list of the trips he wants to do this year, many of which have to do with fishing or hunting.
- Figure out the best way to get to your destination. We have a membership to AAA, so I can use their services for mapping out driving directions. But, for trips to the lower 48 from here, the best mode of travel is usually by air. Even within Alaska, there are areas only accessible by air or boat. For this year’s trips, we’ll be going where we can drive (or drive and then take a ferry.) If we flew somewhere, I’d also need to plan for transportation on site.
- For trips by car, map out where you might stop to stretch your legs. Multi-day trips also require forethought with regard to overnight stops. You can even scope out gas prices in different locations to know the best stops for a refill.
- Book your accommodations early. Since most places do not have big cancellation fees, I like to book early to secure our spot. We tend to favor places that offer suites as one room seems too small with 6 kids. Cooking facilities is another thing that we seek out. The boys adore places with free breakfast as they usually have things like donuts and juice that are ‘treats’ in our house. Homewood Suites is a favorite spot that meets all those requirements, but they are not in all locations. For our upcoming Alaskan adventures, we’ll most likely be camping (gasp!) and need to find spots that rent camping sites.
- Pack up some travel kits for the kids (and even the parents!) Whatever mode of transportation you use, the family members need something to do. The boys have DSIs, so those would be top of their list. But, if it’s in our vehicle with a DVD player, we’d also be packing a few movies to watch during long stretches. While Mr. O and I might enjoy taking in the scenery, the boys tire of that quickly. For the adults, music CDs, audio books or regular books are on the list.
- Plan out meals and snacks ahead of time. This could mean packing them up for your travels or knowing where you can stop to buy something. Even the ‘cheap’ meals add up quickly at a fast food stop when you are buying for 6. And, that boredom which sets in during travel also makes for hungry kids. So, either pack one big snack bag or maybe place a few in each kids travel kit.
- Scope out the local attractions and facilities at your destination ahead of time. Chambers of Commerce are a good resource and many of them have websites with the information just a click away. Alternatively, you can visit travel sites. I’m just a little skeptical after watching a news report of people creating fake accounts to do reviews that boost or slam a business.
- Talk to your friends and family about your trip. If someone has been there before you, they might have great suggestions of places to go or where to eat. Also, make sure people you trust know where you are going and when you should be home. Just don’t post it on Facebook! (Even for a day hike here in Alaska, it is a good idea to give your plans to a friend or family member so they know when to get concerned.)
- Set your budget ahead of time and stick to it! Once you are on the trip, it could be very easy to rack up debt before you know it. The unplanned meal out or those extra souvenirs can add up quickly. Let the kids (or your spouse) know ahead of time what they can spend or that doing something unexpected might mean giving up something that was planned. Depending upon where you are going, there might be a coupon book to purchase (e.g. Entertainment) that will give you great discounts.
- Make a list of what to pack in your bag and double check the kids bags. I learned a while back that I’d better check the boys’ bags or I might find a child with no clean underwear, socks, or who knows what. If it was for a trip to Nana’s, that’s not a big deal to replace the items. But, camping out here means you do without.
There you have it…10 tips for planning travel. I hope you enjoy them.
Disclaimer ~ I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Alamo blogging program, for a gift card worth $25. For more information on how you can participate, click here