The expression “starting a family” has always perplexed me. I personally feel that our family was born the moment Colin and I said, “I do.” While I agree a brand new baby certainly would change the family dynamic, would it make sense for he or she to be credited with establishing it? I suppose one could apply the ‘chicken or the egg’ reasoning. Which came first, the family or the baby? Well, I say family. End rant.
Something I think we can all agree on though is the importance of family vacations. Even those who do not travel often can still appreciate the value of a little time spent away from home.
When I was a kid, my parents took us to Myrtle Beach each and every year. I would go to sleep one summer night and shoot out of bed somewhere between two and three o’clock in the morning to the most obnoxious military wake up call my dad could muster. Ho-dee-op-oh! It was annoying, for sure, but it signaled the beginning of a weeklong stay at a beach hotel. It wasn’t exactly fancy but come on, it had a lazy river, mini golf, and an arcade. Is there any more you could ask for?
My parents both worked outside the home and dedicated a lot of time and money to raising three children. They certainly knew how to stretch a dollar but always considered a yearly getaway as a necessary expense. I’ve carried that same mentality into my own family as well.
Just as my parents, and many other parents, find it important to take their children on a family vacation, DINKs should certainly do the same. Don’t let the absence of children prevent you from experiencing the traveler’s high.
Now for the logistics…
How To Plan a Family Vacation for Two:
This is probably the least enjoyable but most important step in planning a family vacation. Last year, Colin and I were able to go to London for nine days and pay for the whole thing in cash! And that’s on rinky-DINK salaries. How?
Remember how I told you my parents made vacations a necessary expensive? Well, my mom also taught me how to include vacationing into our budget. When Colin and I first got married, we could only afford to put away fifteen dollars a week into our “Trip Fund.” Each week, we’d withdrawal cash and stick it into an envelope. By the time our one year anniversary came around, the envelope was bursting at the seams and we had almost eight hundred dollars to spend on a vacation. Sure we didn’t stay at a luxury resort that year but we used that cash that would’ve otherwise been wasted to relax for a whole week.
Over time, we have been able to increase the amount of money we save each week. We also no longer use this cash system. Instead, every other week I automatically withdrawal a set amount and put it into a Capital One 360 savings account (formerly ING Direct). Our money then earns interest and I’m not tempted to spend it like I would be with cash.
Even if you can only afford to save a few bucks a week, you’ll be glad you did. As soon as your toes hit some warm sand, they’ll be thanking you too.
My favorite part of vacation planning is certainly the research portion. I am mildly (okay, insanely) obsessed with TripAdvisor. It is my go-to site for hotel, restaurant, and activity reviews. I also frequent the forums to inquire about the place(s) I want to visit. However, TripAdvisor is just one of the many, many resources available to you. I also often do a quick Google search to find some places that are best suited for couples instead of families with children, but that is optional of course. Sites like Expedia and Priceline can give you an idea of hotel costs and Kayak is a wonderful resource for rental cars. Never underestimate the word of mouth either. Sometimes the best vacations come from friends’ recommendations. Plus, showing up to the hotel and collecting dozens of brochures about the town is a great way to do on-the-spot research.
Once you’ve done your desired amount of research and have an idea of how much you will have saved by your date of travel, feel free to book! If you do ‘borrow’ from yourself to pay for your trip, it is imperative to keep saving in your trip fund. A vacation is just not as fun when you know you have to come back home and pay for it.
Often times it is cheaper to stay at a hotel from Sunday to Thursday than it is through a weekend. Last minute deals are also frequently advertised on Groupon Getaways and other similar travel sites. One of my favorite things about being childfree is the ability to book a last minute adventure!
Traditions aren’t just for large families. While Colin and I don’t revisit the same places each year, we do always make it a point to be away on the actual day of our wedding anniversary. We love celebrating somewhere different than the year before and having a nice dinner at an unfamiliar (but well reviewed, of course) restaurant. I guess you could call it our thing, our version of Myrtle Beach. We’ve been able to keep up this tradition for the past seven years and have no plans of stopping now!
The crucial last step to planning a vacation is the part where you plan to go again! Don’t settle for one trip every few years. Make it a priority. Repeat the same exact trip you took the year before or scout out a new place. Whatever you decide, just make sure you go!
Do you consider families to be members of two? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!