Updated on 01.27.11

Planning Summer Travel

Trent Hamm

This seems rather strange, perhaps, but Sarah and I have our summer plans more or less penciled in through 2015.

That’s right, 2015

This summer, we’re going to Seattle. The following summer is a trip to New Orleans with my family. The summer after that will feature a trip to Boston, with the summer after that featuring some extensive national park camping. The summer after that? Disneyworld.

We’ve even started talking about subsequent vacations, including trips to Norway, Japan, and France by the end of the decade (we want our children to be older before traveling internationally).

Why plan ahead so much, you ask?

It’s simple. Planning ahead on your summer vacations is an enormous money saver. Sure, maybe we’re going over the top a little bit with the advance planning, but having a firm grip on where you’re going at least a year in advance can save a huge amount of money.

Here are some of the reasons such advance planning really helps.

The day of the week you travel on really matters. If you watch airline ticket prices, you’ll quickly see that not all days are created equal. Tickets for flights on Wednesdays and Saturdays are much cheaper than tickets for Mondays or Fridays.

This, of course, means that planning the days you travel in advance can save you a lot of money, and the further in advance that you plan it, the easier it becomes to get the needed vacation time at work and so on.

You have more time to shop around for better rates on plane tickets, lodging, meals, and any other events. I’m not going to get into the mountain of travel sites out there, but suffice it to say that shopping around for tickets can save you quite a lot of money. The further in advance you’ve planned for a vacation, the more time you have to shop for such things.

The more time in advance you have, the more you can focus on banking frequent flyer miles. There are lots of ordinary things you can do that will help you to bank frequent flyer miles, and the more miles you have banked, the fewer tickets you’re going to be buying. Considering that our family’s travel in the air requires five tickets, that’s a fair chunk of change. Thus, for us, sites like TravelHacking actually pay off.

You have plenty of time to make (or re-establish) connections in the city you’re traveling to. Having people in the area means an inside track on things to do, places to see, bargains, lodging, food, and countless other expenses for travel. If you know long in advance that you’re coming to the area, start making contacts and re-establishing old ones. For me, this is easy – I know readers of The Simple Dollar in most of these areas, so I just send them an email. For you, look for any groups that you might be involved in. Put out a notice on Facebook. You might be surprised who pops up.

You have plenty of time to learn about the area you’re traveling to. This doesn’t mean filling your schedule with more stuff to do than you could ever possibly accomplish. It means investigating the area you’re traveling to thoroughly so that you can truly find the best experiences for your dollar and time.

In my own years, I’ve found that it’s rarely the “name” attractions that are worthwhile. My best memories from virtually every vacation I’ve taken have not been the expensive attractions, but the small free things, like walking past Westminster Abbey and Parliament with my wife while in London, her hand in mine, just absorbing the history of the area, or sitting next to my sister-in-law in a park in Canada, taking our shoes and socks off, and splashing our feet in some freezing water.

There is some serendipity in these moments, but the more time you give yourself in advance of leaving, the more likely you are to find things and events that are going to provide a very powerful media for such serendipity to grow in.

But what about spontaneity? Yes, it can be a lot of fun to just jump in the car or on a plane and see what happens. The problem with that, however, is that it tends to be expensive. You’ll often wind up in suboptimal situations. If you’re planning for that, great, but you can have just as much fun for a lot less if you put in some legwork in advance. A second problem is that it’s extremely difficult to go completely unstructured with young children, because while single me would have happily slept in a sleeping bag in a state park, I wouldn’t do that with a one year old and a three year old in tow.

However you decide to travel, good luck on making it cheap and fun!

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  1. Katie says:

    Conversely, waiting can enable you to take advantage of destinations where lodging and air tickets are “undervalued” due to specific temporal conditions at any given time.

  2. Here are a lot more ways to save on travel from a post on my blog, Hundred Goals:

    1) Be Willing to Travel Anywhere: The most affordable deals are always fluctuating. If you are willing to travel anywhere in the world, you are better able to capitalize on these fluctuations. If you are focused on one place, you may miss an opportunity to travel to other amazing destinations for cheap. Keep your eyes open.

    2) Avoid Peak Season Travel: The prices for flights and accommodations spike during peak travel season. By avoiding peak season and traveling on the shoulder, you are able to benefit from smaller crowds and lower prices. One drawback of traveling during the shoulder season is that the weather may not be as warm.

    3) Fly During the Middle of the Week: Certain days of the week (Monday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday) are more expensive to fly simply because more people fly on those days. Flying on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays often yields significant savings.

    4) Check Multiple Aggregators: Using flight aggregators can help save you time and money when searching for the best deal on airfare. There are many to choose from and they often return the same results, though it pays to check them all as it is impossible to know if a deal may pop up somewhere. Here are some aggregators that I use regularly:

    Bing: This is my favorite aggregator. It is convenient to use and has a Price Indicator which can help you determine if it is a good idea to snag a deal today or wait for prices to fall.

    Kayak: I like this site because you are able to chose an option to be flexible in your travel dates, which can result in significant savings.

    Tripeedo: This is a useful site as you are able to compare prices from many of the more popular travel sites such as Expedia, Priceline and Travelocity.

    5) Check the Airline Website: In addition to using flight aggregators, check the airline website to compare the prices which are being shown by the aggregators. Flight aggregators earn money through the fees airlines add to the base ticket price. Sometimes there are discrepancies between the aggregators and purchasing direct with the airline. It is worth your time to check around.

    6) Fly on the Red Eye: Flights that leave early in the morning are often cheaper than those leaving a couple hours later. Quick connections or long layovers also often provide opportunity for travelers to save money. More than once I have spent the night camped out on the airport floor.

    7) Avoid Non-Stop Flights: Direct flights are usually much more expensive than flights with multiple connections. Making connections in other airports isn’t always free from stress and frustration. Delayed flights have the potential to affect your ability to make your connection. Long layovers are boring. The savings that multiple connections provide travelers is usually worth a little inconvenience.

    Fly Economy: Most people flying First Class do not pay for the luxury. Budget travelers will arrive in the same city at the same time as those in First Class. The seats may be less comfortable in Economy but the savings are significant.

    9) Find Package Deals: If you have decided on a destination, check for deals on tour packages. Often these guided tours will include the cost of your flight, lodging and transportation within the country. They can provide you with convenience at reasonable prices. A common drawback to these packages is that they often depart from an airport which is not local. You will have to arrange travel to and from the departing airport.

    10) Avoid Package Deals: The real benefit of package deals is the convenience they provide. It can be more cost effective to plan your own itinerary and custom tailor it to your desires. Weigh your options and decide if the convenience of a guided tour is worth the extra cost. You may be able to do it cheaper on your own but it will require more planning.

    11) Sign up for Email Offers: Signing up for weekly email updates about travel offers is a great way to find some of the best deals available. I subscribe to TravelZoo’s Top 20 and each week I receive an email with deals that are simply amazing! One drawback to many of these trips is that they depart from specific airports and the booking window is short. You must act fast and have flexibility in your schedule.

    12) Book Your Flight Early: If you are able to book your flight early you have the advantage of being able to shop around for the best deals. I try to book my flights about 3 to 6 months in advance. Any later and the flights are beginning to fill up and the prices begin to rise.

    13) Book Your Flight Late: If you have flexibility, it could be worth your effort to hold off on booking until 3 to 4 weeks before you want to leave. Sometimes airlines will drop their prices on flights that do not have enough passengers as a way to encourage people to buy. This is a gamble and not something I recommend unless you have the flexibility to change your plans.

    14) Don’t Book Last Minute: Whatever you do, don’t book your flight at the last minute. Airlines raise the prices of their airfare for flights as the departure date approaches. They do this to benefit from people who had to unexpectedly make a trip they weren’t planning. Unless it is an emergency, plan ahead to get the best deal.

    15) Check Prices at Nearby Airports: If you live in an area where it is possible to travel to multiple airports, check the prices of each. By flying out of one rather than the other could save you hundreds of dollars. For example, I live in Wisconsin, so I check the cost of flying out of Madison as well as Minneapolis and Chicago. On average, flights out of Chicago are cheaper since flights from Minneapolis often connect in Chicago. The drawback to saving the money in my situation is the long drive to Chicago. The savings would need to be significant to convince me to drive all that way.

    16) Assign Your Seats Online: When you make a reservation online, you can choose where you want to sit. If you forego this step, you might end up on the wing, next to the window with your significant other six rows back on the other side of the plane. Often, people are willing to swap seats but don’t rely on the kindness of a stranger, assign your seats when you make your reservation.

    17) Pack Light, Then Take Out Half: Avoid checked baggage fees on domestic flights by packing light so you can fit all of your belongings into your carry-on. Figure out the things you can live without and leave them at home. Most hotels provide shampoo, conditioner and soap. Packing light not only saves you money on baggage fees but the less you drag along with you, the more mobile you are and the easier it is to get around.

    18) Print Out All Reservations & Itineraries: Flight information, hotel reservations, transportation arrangements. These provide proof of purchase and are useful in reminding you of when and where you need to be. Keep them in a place where you won’t lose them and is easily accessible.

    19) Know Airport Security Procedures: Airport security is possibly one of the most frustrating aspects of traveling, for no reason than many people simply do not know what to do. No liquids over 3 ounces, take your off shoes, belt and jacket, have your computer out of your carry-on bag. Pack your cosmetics and toiletries in your checked bag. The less you carry through security, the easier this process becomes.

    20) Don’t Park at the Airport: Parking at the airport is a waste of money. Find a place to park nearby and take a free shuttle to the airport. A small tip to the driver is customary and worth it when compared to the price of parking at the airport. When you return, just give them a call and they’ll pick you up and take you to your car. Shop around for the best deals.

    21) Avoid Exchanging Money at the Airport: Currency exchanges in the airport are a ripoff. They charge high fees for their services, giving you a poor exchange rate. If you must exchange currency, find a local bank to work with. Another option is to withdraw money at an ATM. Be aware of your bank policy on foreign transactions as many charge a 3% fee in addition to the charge for making a withdrawal.

    22) Carry Small Bills: In many countries large denomination bills are inconvenient, if not impossible, to use as many people are unable to make change. Avoid this problem by carrying many small denomination bills.

    23) The USD is Not Always King: Fewer countries are accepting the US Dollar as a form of payment. It is a good idea to carry a supplement of Euros along with your dollars.

    24) Stay in Hostels: Staying in a hostel isn’t only for high school and college students. More and more hostels are catering to young families on a budget. If sharing a room with a dozen strangers isn’t your idea of a good time, check if the hostel offers private rooms. If you are traveling with a group, the benefits of the hostel are diminished. Weigh your options carefully.

    25) Camp: I spent a month on a road trip and a lot of the time was spent sleeping in a tent. One morning I woke up to buffalo grazing near our tent, the next we were camped out in a snow bank at the foot of Mount Saint Helens. The cost of a campsite can vary, from free to $30 or more.

    26) Cook for Yourself: Eating at restaurants 3 times a day adds up fast. Find a grocery store to purchase a couple of bags of groceries and do your own cooking. If you stay at a hostel, many offer a shared kitchen where you can cook your meals. By doing some of your own cooking, not only are you saving money but you are also avoiding unhealthy restaurant food.

    27) Carry Snacks and Bottled Water: When you are out sightseeing, carry a backpack with snacks, a lunch from the groceries you purchased (see above) and a bottle of water. While I was in Germany, each day we went out to explore we packed a lunch and brought something to drink. We didn’t spend a dime on food the whole time. Be prepared!

    28) Find the Best Deals on Excursions: The best deal doesn’t mean the cheapest. Compare prices as well as features. What is the best value for your money? While in Iceland, I had to have the most expensive volcano tour because I wanted to have the best experience possible. I realized a little too late that no amount of money can clear the clouds from the summit and the less expensive tours might have been sufficient.

    29) Walk or Use Public Transportation: Except in areas where crime is an issue, walking or public transportation are great ways to get around. What might have been a $20 taxi ride will be a $2 bus ride. Learn the public transit systems and use them. In Europe, consider purchasing a Euro Rail pass that suits your specific travel needs.

    30) Buy a Guide Book: Be your own tour guide! Buy a book, read it and use it. Almost always, I carry a guide book. My favorite is Lonely Planet. There aren’t many pictures but they are filled with a wealth of information. They can help you plan a walking tour or give you ideas about what there is to visit while you are in the area. I would recommend purchasing two types of books, one with practical information and one with a lot of pretty pictures. This way you can see the places in addition to reading about them. Besides, we all like looking at pictures. Don’t leave home without one (or two).

    31) Avoid Tourist Destinations: A quick way to spend a lot of money is to spend too much time in places with a high volume of tourist traffic. We all want to see the landmarks. What trip to Italy would be complete without the Leaning Tower of Pisa? The trouble comes when we begin booking our accommodations in the heart of these areas. By staying a little left of center, you can save a great deal of money and still have access to the sights.

    32) When in Rome: When you are visiting another country, follow and respect the local customs and traditions. While in Iceland we visited the Blue Lagoon, a popular geothermal bathing area. Before entering the lagoon, it is required that you strip naked and shower. If there is no other place in Iceland where a tourist stands out, it is in a shower room filled with naked people. How do you spot the tourists? They are the ones with the personal insecurities who are still wearing shorts. Respect the customs and traditions. That’s what sets you apart from being just another turista.

    33) Learn a Couple Basic Phrases in the Local Language: Please and Thank You go a long way and showing that you care enough to learn even a couple words shows people that you respect them and their country. That said, many people around the world speak English.

    34) Connect with People Who Live There: “Take time to talk with the locals. They can really help you find the best places to shop, eat & tour. You really never “know” a place unless you make that human connection.”

    35) Avoid Buying Souvenirs: Souvenirs are a waste of money. Check the markings on that trinket you are about to buy and I’ll almost bet it will say “Made in China”. So, you went to São Paulo to buy a nick knack from China? Neat! For a more meaningful artifact from your journey, see the next tip.

    36) Take Photos: Of people. If your vacation photos are only of the landscape or architecture “you might as well have bought postcards” at the souvenir shop. Get in front of the camera and smile big!

    37) Take a Bump: Want to earn a free flight? Be willing to give up your seat to someone who wants it more than you do. Plan for the possibility of getting bumped by scheduling your return a day early to allow flexibility. A trick to getting bumped is to ask whether the flight is full. If the person at the desk confirms that it is, let the folks at your gate know that you are willing to delay your flight if they need volunteers. Then, collect your free ticket and wait for the next flight, which could be in a few hours or tomorrow.

  3. Shannon says:

    Steven, next give me some more tips, these were too few.

  4. valleycat1 says:

    Get lots of free or very inexpensive information from the state tourism board as well as county & city tourism organizations. Most zoos (at least, the ones we’ve visited the past few years) have excellent websites where you can learn a lot about their animals & rules/limitations before you go. If these groups don’t have downloadable materials, they’ll happily mail you a packet, usually personalized to the types of activities & places you’re interested in, more detailed maps than available locally, etc. We got an excellent map of eastern Washington State with all the small county roads clearly mapped out, so we were able to drive around & turn down any interesting road with no fear of getting lost.

  5. Rebecca says:

    Esp when camping in State or National parks: know when the reservation season opens. In Wi, I think it is the 1st of Jan. If you want a specific site or style of site (electric) for a specific date, like July 4th, you need to book ASAP to make sure you have a site saved for you. Parks fill up fast.

  6. Josh says:

    Wow! I don’t even know where I’m going to next weekend!

  7. Lex says:

    I really, really wish I could plan my vacations that far in advance! I agree it’s really the best way to save money.
    I have no idea if we’re even going anywhere this summer at all, or we could go trekking in Ireland or we could go to Corsica or to Italy or Greece or just a week-end in Barcelona. It depends on so many things though.

  8. Tricia says:

    I don’t even know what I’m doing tomorrow night!

    I live in New England, so I can give you tips on what to do, and what to avoid!

  9. @Shannon: Sorry, I’ll try harder next time! :)

  10. Gretchen says:

    I hate, hate, hate shopping around for hotel rooms. So many options and all pretty much the same and in basically the same price range.

    It’s like buying a vehicle and saying ” I want a car.”

    Any tips on that? (Hotel only, we don’t fly.)

  11. stinkindog says:

    steven, do you have a blog? why are you writing on this one?

  12. kjc says:

    Steven: nice post!

    Trent: Greg’s Comment Length Limiter plugin

  13. Leah says:

    Y’know, there’s a fine balance between planning vacations up to 5 years in advance and planning at the last second. I’m a fan of planning in the 6 months to a year out range. It’s enough time to gather information, look for deals, etc yet still be excited about the trip. I think that if I were planning a trip, even just tentatively, that I wouldn’t take for a few years, the excitement would wear off.

  14. kjc says:

    Oh, I didn’t bother commenting; I was too fatigued after reading Steven’s “comment.”

    For the record, I can’t imagine these trips will play out as “planned.” A four year window for planning vacations is sorry, absurd.

  15. Riki says:

    Agreed with #13 and 14. Planning say, 6-9 months in advance gives plenty of time for budgeting, saving, finding deals, and general preparation. Let’s not pretend that it’s necessary to plan 4 years in advance to find good prices.

  16. Yes, I have a blog. I write there often as a matter of fact. I’m writing here because a lot of people at TSD have never dropped in on my blog and probably never will, so I’m trying to share my knowledge with people who might find it useful for there own planning needs. I enjoy traveling, so any way that I can help others be more successful in their own travels, the better.

    It’s all in goodwill. :)

  17. krantcents says:

    2015 is a little too far ahead for me! last year, I planned a trip to New Orleans during Spring Break. Departing on a Saturday using frequent flier miles, staying at a B & B (3 people) for $109 per night. This summer, we are going to Vancouver for a week using frequent flier miles. Next year, a major trip to Europe. This is in the early stages of planning. If you want to learn how I do it, you can read more on my personal financial blog.

  18. valleycat1 says:

    #10 Gretchen – sign up with a reliable hotel chain or two, or book directly with a hotel online (that’ll get you on their mailing list). They’ll send you emails, some with better deals than those available to the general public. Just get on their email list – I’m not talking about frequent guest programs where you have to stay with them on x trips to earn a free room or something.

    I also check travel aggregators first, as they have easy to use searches to find hotels in a certain area of town or price range & have reviews. But I normally then book directly with the hotel, if possible using their nonrefundable internet-only rate – in my experience you get a better room booking directly, even if you have to pay a little bit more than some of the discount sites. Usually at least one hotel will meet or beat the aggregator’s price.

    I know a lot of people who have been very happy with Priceline’s offerings & they’ve gotten some incredible deals. I haven’t tried that.

  19. Courtney20 says:

    We’ve got you beat – we’re tentatively planned through 2018 :-D (Our 15-year anniversary trip to Europe).

  20. bogart says:

    I don’t buy it; too much changes over a five-year span for this to be a sensible planning strategy. Who knew Iceland would be so affordable? OTOH, we too have a general sense of many of our likely plans for at least the next five years, as we alternate trips to various parts of the family and tend to intersperse expensive trips with more affordable ones.

  21. Michele says:

    Steven@hundredgoals- way to hijack someone else’s blog. Now I def won’t check your blog- you just blogged it all on Simple Dollar.
    Trent- planning is good. Hope you accomplish it but I have found that booking about 2 months out is the cheapest way to go for airfare. When my kids were the ages of your kids, we didn’t plan more than 6 months in advance because things change so much with kids. Deaths, births, sports, job changes, camps, kids interests, family obligations, weddings, etc…makes a big difference in family plans, let alone vacations.

  22. SP says:

    Trent – I sketch out travel plans over a year in advance, but it is more because there are SO MANY places I want to go, and I feel better having them “penciled in”, even though i know things will change, so I have an idea what trips are fist. REAL plans really don’t seem to happen until the year they will be implemented. I suspect this may be true for you?

    I mean, you can’t even search airplane ticket prices very far out. You generally would never reserve/book anything over a year in advance… would you?!

    There is nothing wrong with advance travel planning, but i think it really is only frugal to a degree. A year should be plenty of time for research/bargain hunting, not to mention potential last minute deal options (which admittedly I never seize since I have my vacay days booked up for planned trips)

  23. Jules says:

    @ Steven: taking up two whole screens with a comment is not a way to share information, because nobody reads it. Less is more if you’re trying to drive traffic to your blog. You want to leave enough so that they’re interested, but not so much that they won’t bother clicking your link.

    Which is not to say that they will bother clicking your link–most people won’t. Just gotta get over that.

  24. deRuiter says:

    Viva frequent flyer miles, especially the ones you don’t have to fly to earn!

  25. colleen c says:

    Here is a money-saving tip for anyone planning a Walt Disney World vacation (like Trent). Planning ahead helps so much because the place is overwhelming in size AND costs.I am a Disney fan and one of my favorite planning guides is a book called Passporter. It has all the details about everything from rides to shows and resorts. It’s easy to read and makes planning your trip so much fun. Because a new guide comes out each year, the authors offer the “old” year at a very reduced rate. You can get a copy for about $5 including shipping. This offer is typically offered in the first months of a new year on their website, Passporter.com.

  26. Matt says:

    I can’t say “lame” enough when I hear of people “reestablishing contacts” just to get a free place to stay or free advice for somewhere they want to go. Lame lame lame. That’s absolutely putting a price tag on “friendship” and is just usery. Come on, guys. Man up and call it what it is.

  27. Maureen says:

    Jules, I totally disagree with you. I found Steven’s tips to be quite interesting and I’m glad he shared them.

    I think Matt#25 makes a valid point.

  28. valleycat1 says:

    I’m surprised Trent wants to go to DisneyWorldl when young (toddler-13 or so, at least) my children had much better times at real places & events instead of fake ones. Zoos, lakes, caves, the beach, family & friends instead of characters in costumes & standing in lines with a gazillion strangers in the heat for a brief thrill ride. And as teens to now they still prefer experiences to that kind of thing.

  29. Gretchen says:

    Even “extenstive national park” camping seems like not the best choice for three very small children.

    thanks on the hotel tip. I think the key is to pick a chain and stick with it.

  30. Interested Reader says:

    Valleycat – he’s talking about DisneyWorld in 5 years so his youngest will be 5 and that doesn’t seem to be an unreasonable age to take a child to Disney.

    I think I was 6 or when I went to Disney World for the first time and had a blasst, I still have some fond memories of it.

    My parents also took us camping and stuff and we liked that too but Disney was lots of fun.

  31. Brittany says:

    Disagree, Matt. I love it when old friends (or even acquaintances) look me up when they’re in or planning to come to town. It’s not “usery” to ask someone what’s neat about their city. I would do this to a stranger on the street, but it’s inappropriate to ask an old friend or colleague? I don’t think so. They’re well within their rights to respond briefly or not at all. I’m more discriminating about who’d I’d ask if I could stay with them, but if we used to be very close friends even if we’ve drifted apart now, I still wouldn’t feel weird or like a taker for asking. (If I’d be excited if they showed up in my city and asked for a place to stay, I’d ask without much reservation.) However, I’m also an avid couchsurfer (mostly a host), a community of people who regularly open their homes to or stay in the homes of complete strangers, so perhaps my perceptions of hospitality are skewed towards generosity.

  32. Kim says:

    Really, you can only realistically start locking in reservations for cost savings about 372 days in advance. That is about how far out most hotels, airlines, etc are accepting reservations. No need to panic if you don’t know what you are doing in for the summer in 2015. We try to have to always have a flexible plan in place for the next 13 months. Often, last minute deals are the cheapest. You have to be flexible and always on the look out for bargains.

  33. Interested Reader says:

    I’m part of a forum where there are lots of posts like “I’m going to be in The City the last week of Feb anyone want to get together?” or “Hey! I’m going to Paraguay in the fall -anyone have any tips or advice?”

    And that leads to a lot of off board emails and conversation which is cool.

    Also re connecting with soemone you really want to re connect with is cool too.

    But what it sounds like Trent is saying (at least to me) is that he’s not re connecting for the sake of builidng a friendship but to get information from them. And it sounds like he’s talking about connecting with semi strangers just to get information from them.

  34. valleycat1 says:

    I don’t think Trent is talking about making reservations & definite plans 5 years out. But knowing where you hope to go for the next 5 years & some of the broad details gives you time to figure out approx. how much those particular trips will cost & what you need to save to do it, instead of planning to go to DisneyWorld or Paris in a month or two, putting it on a credit card & then paying it off. If you’re making 5-year plans for your money & life, then getting probable travel destinations in that plan is necessary for the plans to be valid.

  35. Hope D says:

    For my 25 anniversary, I would like to go on an Alaskan cruise. That will be in 6 years. I’m not calling any cruise line. It is just a loose plan. I think that is what Trent is doing. He is making long term goals.

  36. Des says:

    I think this is a great plan if your life situation is stable enough to warrant it. DH and I have been trying to conceive for three years and are now in the process of adoption. We haven’t been able to seriously plan anything in our life for those three years (or the one upcoming) because we have no idea when kids will come (and now that we’re adopting, we don’t know what age they will be either.)

    That being said, once we do get our kids we have a laundry list of vacations we’d like to take, so I’m sure we’ll need to be planning them way in advance.

  37. Sheila says:

    I have to agree with Gretchen (#28) about “extenstive national park” camping. My parents hauled me on cross-country camping trips beginning at 5 years of age, and we often stayed in areas where we had to be constantly reminded to stay out of long grass (snakes in Florida), be on the lookout for bears and cougars and other dangerous stuff that we would never have encountered back home.

    A trip may be memorable for parents and older siblings, but I was the youngest and so have only a few vague memories that I cannot attach to particular places. My father would show me photos and tell me things to try to jog my memory, to no avail. When people ask me if I’ve been to the Grand Canyon, I have to say, “I’m told that I’ve been there, but I have no recollection of it.”

    I’m all for waiting until kids are older until you travel with them. I would suggest planning visits to special places on each trip that will appeal to the interests of each of the children. That way, they can have something on the trip that they can really enjoy, and they won’t end up feeling like just a piece of luggage.

  38. Michelle says:

    While I agree that #2 Steven’s post might not be completely appropriate on someone else’s blog, it does demonstrate what a thoughtful, well-researched blog commentary looks like. Water bottles and plan trips early are but one tip that have been broken out to become a full post. Again, fewer entries, better content would make this a better blog. I’m like many others who skims Trent’s entries and reads the comments.

    I’ve gotta say though, that’s genius on Trent’s part. Get your commenters to do the heavy lifting and reap the benefits of sponsorship!

  39. KC says:

    New Orleans in the summer? You are a brave one. That being said I was in Seattle last June and it was 104 – so go figure?

  40. lurker carl says:

    You can save by booking last minute. For instance, tody we booked a 10 day cruise at 85% off list price within two weeks of sailing. We can easily drive to the cruise terminal, no airfare required. It was considerable less money than flying to Florida, renting a car, booking a hotel and purchasing meals for a four day weekend. It pays to be flexible and weary of this cold, snowy winter.

  41. Cortney says:

    Gretchen #28 and Sheila #36- I think it all depends on the kid if they’ll have fun or not. My ex’s family was extremely outdoorsy and they (his sisters)took their kids camping/hiking pretty much from birth on- hiking in the mountains, camping in the cold, etc. And he and his sisters were taken hiking/camping pretty much from birth by their parents. They were also big into scouts and such though, so that may have made a difference- all the kids were into camping and being outdoors. Personally, I loved camping as a child, even when I was very young. But depending on how the parents approach it and treat the kids, I can see how it wouldn’t be enjoyable for some kids as a result.

  42. PBM says:

    His plans are not written in stone. They are just that…plans. And if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. At least he has some goals in mind for his family. What do you have planned for yours?

    I love the idea of planning in advance. At least it gives you something to look forward to and something to work for.

    Let me repeat…. if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

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