What you can find in this post
How do we plan a family holiday?
There are so many things to think about when planning a holiday or adventure. Sure, you can head to a travel agent and have them book everything for you, but what’s the fun in that? Actually, I have no problem with that (we have done that ourselves) but, there are some awesome resources out there to help you with everything you need; this is what gets me excited!
As you know, I am pretty obsessed with travel and I think the anticipation that comes with all the planning is awesome (I could say it’s better than the real thing but of course that is not the case!).
I think when some people start to think about how to plan a family holiday they probably start to freak out – but don’t. It’s loads of fun and there is heaps of help out there for you.
I think it’s pretty safe to say the whole pre-departure planning falls in my lap! The kids help with looking at their world globe and asking lots of questions and they do get excited when I show them lots of photos of what we might experience! But, I’m in my element!
How do we choose a destination?
I have a VERY long list of places on my bucket list. The kids are adding to this list themselves – I just love that they are so interested in going on an adventure (of course they are also happy with a pool and ice cream!). Top of my list for this year were both Hawaii and Sri Lanka. The kids helped with the decision on this one and the volcanoes won over the elephants this time! Sri Lanka will be next year.
I suppose it depends on time of year, Ross’s annual leave and what else we are planning on doing during the year. Last year we took 3 weeks for Cambodia and Vietnam and it was awesome. It also meant that we used up the majority of Ross’s annual leave. So, I don’t think I could do one major holiday per year only – that’s why this year we are planning on a few shorter trips to break up the annual leave and also the year.
If you have a destination in mind but are not sure of your itinerary or exactly what to see it could be a great idea to have a look at the tours available on some of the group tour websites.
Check out the following for ideas as many have family tour options (if not, it’s a great way to start working on your itinerary) –
Intrepid – awesome family tour options
G Adventures – Great family tour options. We travelled with G Adventures in Patagonia and the tour was awesome
Peregrine – Another great company for itinerary ideas
I am not opposed to trying one of these family tours – especially if we are short on time and want to see a lot. It can be great to have it all arranged for you and I like the idea of travelling with other families.
My Lonely Planet books are also a MUST.
Lonely Planet had a bit of a bad wrap last year. There was lots of talk about whether they are relevant anymore and whether many people are actually using the printed book. I remember back in Uni one tourism lecturer saying how guide books are outdated before they are even back from the printers. I have always remembered this and think it would be more true these days with the internet as it is. But, in saying that, the Lonely Planet books are still an invaluable resource and I always have a pile sitting on my table. I will read the sections of interest first, do lots of internet research and then take the Lonely Planet away with us to cross reference. You can download chapters of the books also – this is great if you don’t want to take the whole book with you if you are visiting one city only.
Lonely Planet always seem to have a great sale on so have a look and sign up to receive updates from them – I can also let you know when they have a sale!
How awesome are travel bloggers though?!? For some destinations all you need to do is find a great travel blogger who has already been and they’ll have all the information you could ever need to plan and have a fantastic trip. To inspire other families to start travelling is such a common motto for us travel bloggers. Make sure you are reading what we all have to say and get in touch if you need any more detail. Nothing makes us happier than receiving an email and being able to help another family with travel plans.
I do have a page on some of the travel bloggers I love to follow. So check it out and follow along with those that tickle your fancy.
Are you part of any family travel FB groups? If you love travel then you should be. I am a member of a few but my favourite two are:
I have posted heaps of questions in these groups about up coming travels and someone is always able to help. They are not only about destinations though, feel free to ask anything related to travel. I have asked about views on taking kids out of school before – the consensus is there is absolutely no issue with this!
My first port of call for looking at fights is through Sky Scanner. It is an awesome tool for looking at flights.
They have a fantastic map also. If you are flexible with your destination you can enter in your departure city and your dates and it will show you on the map where you can fly to cheaply.
If you are not flexible (like us) then Sky Scanner is still awesome. Use the monthly calendar and it will show you the cheapest days to fly – it’s amazing how different days are cheaper than others.
You can book directly through the Sky Scanner website, it will take you to third party sites. To be honest, I will usually book direct once I find the dates and flights that suit – it might cost slightly more than one of the third party sites but it’s peace of mind in case something goes wrong (there are some horror stories out there – but most are probably fine).
Webjet is another great tool for looking and comparing flight prices. You are also able to purchase total packages.
Using hotel booking sites is an interesting one. Most travel bloggers will have links to their favourite booking site, for me it all depends on destination and price.
Check out the prices here for Hotels Combined and see if you can snap yourself a great deal.
Or, have a look at Booking.com and compare the sites for yourself.
Now, I say they are interesting because they are all (well the majority) are either owned by Trivago or Kayak – who compare all the sites!
They also charge the hotel a steep commission. So, I always feel more comfortable booking direct with the hotel where possible as the money is going direct to the hotel – but it does come down to price.
I am not sure how many of you watch The Checkout on ABC? Last year they put together a great clip on the hotel booking sites.
Watch the 6 minute 30 second clip by clicking here.
Just be mindful that the content may offend some viewers!
For holiday houses and apartments I like to use Stayz (Australia) or Air B&B (worldwide). You do need an account for Air B&B, if you are not set up then please click on our link here which will give you a discount to book your first stay.
We use holiday houses A LOT for long weekends with friends. It just makes things really easy. We can cook, put the kids to bed and then chill in the lounge with a glass of wine all together.
Before I book anything – accommodation, tours etc I will always look up reviews. Trip Advisor is the best place for this, but as I mentioned in my Halong Bay post, I wouldn’t base all your decisions based on these reviews. They are very subjective to people’s different views. If you find a review that you like you can click on the reviewers profile and check what else they have reviewed in the area – you might pick up some other ideas for restaurants and attractions etc.
Trip Advisor also has a great ‘Travel Forum‘ section. You can click on destinations and then drill down from there. There is so, so much information here.
Tours and activities
I really hate to pay full price but sometimes that is just the way it works out. But, if I have time then there are a few good sites to check out for the best deals.
Klook is a good one for Asia – some attractions are at least 15% off which is a big saving for a family. I haven’t personally used this site before but I know plenty of people that have and it comes highly recommended. If you are heading to Asia I’d definitely recommend having a look!
Sign up to the attractions website and follow them on FB – they might have specials coming up or be cheaper on a particular day etc.
Luxury Escapes – don’t forget about Luxury Escapes. There are lots of great deals. If nothing else their emails will give you some great ideas.
With all the deal sites just watch the hidden charges. Sometimes, by the time you add in surcharges for extra children, Saturday nights, extra food etc it doesn’t become such a good deal.
I am on the hunt for a good online book library for kids books. For our Cambodia and Vietnam trip we used Epic Books. Click here for a 30 day free trial. I love the concept but it takes a while to find suitable books (they are quite American styled). Check out the 30 day free trial and see what you think. I think we would use this product for another longer holiday when we are trying to pack light.
If we are taking printed books away with us then I will always purchase from The Book Depository. This is a UK based website which is heaps cheaper than here with free postage! I can’t believe how expensive books can be but I am super happy to find lots of specials on this site.
We also tend to buy lots of gear from Kathmandu when they have sales (which is very regularly). It’s great quality and you’ll often find a sale. They have free shipping for online shopping over $100. We bought our packing cubes from Kathmandu – never heard of packing cubes before? Check them out here. They are awesome. I haven’t tried any other brands so I don’t know how they compare but we have been super happy – actually more than super happy – packing cubes are awesome and everyone should use them to help with packing. There were no pretty colours when I bought ours! I would recommend buying yourself some as part of your holiday planning to see how they can change the way you pack.
There you have it – a list of everything we use to plans our trips. There is a lot to think about but I think the joy and anticipation of planning a holiday well outweighs the time it takes and I’d rather be holiday planning than doing anything else!!
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