Kids are back in school and moms are doing the happy dance! While travel may be the furthest thing from your mind, NOW is the time to start planning those school year trips. On my segment on Q13FOX last week, I shared how to create a family travel plan for the school year and tips for getting started on that back to school travel schedule. Here are 5 tips for planning those school-year vacations.
1. CHECK SCHOOL CALENDARS. Count up your days. How many potential vacations do you have to work with for the school year? The average school schedule has around 30 days of vacation a year, including several long weekends, holiday, mid-winter and spring breaks. Start by working with the days you know school is closed, and then work around them to optimize your dates for travel. It gets harder as the kids get older to pull them out of school for extended periods of time without them falling behind, so this is very much a family’s personal decision.
2. PLAN THE BIG VACATIONS FIRST: Why do this? Because these are often the times when EVERYONE ELSE is traveling too – prices will be higher, hotels more crowded, airfares more expensive, so it pays to do your homework and plan in advance. Decide where you want to go for big breaks, set your budget and start setting airfare alerts to your potential destinations early. If you want to book with miles or points, start at least six months in advance to optimize availability for peak-travel times.
3. PLAN WEEKEND GETAWAYS IN FALL. Fall is a busy time for families with sports and settling into the new school year, but this is EXACTLY why it is also a great time to travel. Autumn values abound for airfare and hotels, with many hotels and online travel sites offering great packages. This is also a great time for families to take just one more weekend away to rest, recharge and reconnect as a family before the busy holiday season.
4. GO ONE NEW PLACE YOU’VE NEVER BEEN BEFORE. It’s easy to sneak away to a place you’ve been before because it is comfortable. This year, I challenge you to plan one trip to a new place you’ve never been before. It doesn’t have to cost a lot, or be exotic. A new adventure could be something as simple as deciding to take a road trip, or be a tourist in your own backyard. Have a dream trip? How can you make that trip happen this year? Always commit to exploring new experiences together as a family.
5. SCHEDULE REGULAR PARENT GETAWAYS. I can’t stress the importance of regular getaways for parents, both together and with friends. It goes without saying that parenting is hard work and we parents need time-outs too! My husband and I call these weekend getaways our “Quarterly Off-sites” and they give us a chance to talk uninterrupted, regroup on our family plan, discuss our goals and just generally, recharge.
Looking for more travel inspiration? Heather Morgan Shott with Fodors has a great read on Planning School Year Vacations.
Here’s to a great school year with lots of time to travel!