This is the 2nd post in a Step-by-Step Guide to Planning the Perfect Family Trip. Click here to start at Step 1.
You might have a pretty good idea by now of where you’d like to go on your next family trip. Or, maybe you still have no clue at all! Either way, let’s take a step back for a moment.
I’m a firm believer that you should always go into travel planning with an open mind and a blank slate. Having preconceived ideas and thoughts in your head before you even do a little research is a recipe for disaster (and might require revisiting those expectations we set last week)! You should never “force” a vacation. Sometimes as you learn more about a place, it just doesn’t feel right, or might not excite you in the same way it once did. In those instances, it’s perfectly ok to change your mind!
Here’s an example. Last spring I got this idea that I really wanted us to go to Miami. I even put it into our 2016 travel goals, and had an Airbnb all picked out. But as it got closer and closer to the end of the year, I just wasn’t feeling as jazzed about it as I once was. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to visit Miami, but after doing some research and really thinking about what we wanted from the trip, we realized that now maybe wasn’t the right time. So what did we do instead? We picked another place that we were really excited about, Tulum! And I think you all know how that went! 😉
So I guess my point is, you might have an idea of where you want to go right now. But don’t be afraid to change that idea if you find it’s just not feeling right and something else comes along.
So before you go declaring you’re next trip, let’s get inspired, shall we?
Here’s a little secret that I’ve learned from the world of travel blogging – Pinterest is the best resource for travel planning. Why? Well, several reasons.
1) It’s 100% visual. And travel is a visual experience. They go hand-in-hand. You don’t want to just read about the world, you want to see it. Pinterest helps you navigate through all of that information in a way that gives you an instant reaction and is easy to digest.
2) It gives you a mix of sources. Want recommendations from top travel magazines? Check. Want local insider tips from resident bloggers? Check. Just want to look at pretty pictures of Italy to spur your creativity? Check. It’s all there, in one place.
3) Pinterest is a search engine. Not social media. It uses the same tricks Google does to help you search every entry on the site. So you can find local recommendations much faster and more accurately than you would with other “social media” tools (or even Google itself!)
Ready to get inspired? Let’s go!
Log on to Pinterest and create a new board where you will save all pins dedicated to this trip (I’d recommend making it secret so you aren’t self-concious about bombarding all your friends with travel pins).
Once you have your board set up, it’s time to start snooping around. Try searching a few different destinations you’ve had on your mind. If you truly don’t know where to start, you can check out my Pinterest boards here. You’ll find not only pins from our own travels, but thousands of pins from other travel destinations (I know, I have a pinning problem). Everything is organized by location, so you can quickly narrow down your ideal spot (say, if you want to stick to the US or are dreaming of a trip to France). Start saving away to your own private board and don’t worry about over-pinning at this point. Go ahead and get sucked in.
After an intense round pinning, I hope you’ve been able to find a few places that intrigue you. Write down your top 3 on the trip ideas sheet. Then, start thinking about the pros and cons of each place (we’re talking big picture here). These are a few things I like to consider when deciding where to go next:
- What will the weather be like? While before kids I might have loved the idea of soaking up the hot Miami sun in August, I now avoid hot weather destinations in summer like the plague. The idea of pushing a stroller in 100 degree heat just doesn’t appeal to me. Make sure you’re traveling to a climate (hot or cold) that will be bearable for you…after all, you’ll be carrying a lot more extra baggage.
- How expensive will it be to fly there? Big bucket list trips tend to be ones we plan and save for for a really long time. Don’t expect a trip to Europe to happen 6 months from now unless you’ve got a serious savings already built up. We like to plan a few domestic trips a year, with the occasional overseas splurge in between.
- Are the area’s main draws age appropriate? Or, maybe more accurately described, can I get away with enjoying them with a little one? For example, we’re holding off on any ski trips until our kids are old enough to learn with us. ? But keep in mind too that this is all subjective to your own travel goals. Depending on how high a destination is your bucket list, you may be more willing to make certain compromises to get there.
- How full of tourists will it be? This goes back to last week when we set our expectations. I try to avoid super touristy areas (like beaches or major cities) during high season. Why? I’d prefer to have them more to myself in the off-season. I reserve lesser-known gems or nearby city breaks for summertime. It’s still busy, but not that busy.
- How big do you want to go? Are you ready tackle a massive city with so much to do (ahem…New York City), or would you prefer to visit a smaller city that’s manageable in size and will allow you to take your time with it (like beautiful Charleston, for example).
- Where does everyone else want to go? Ok, I’m usually the one making all the travel decisions around here, but I still would never book a trip without bouncing ideas off my husband and getting his approval. After all, this is a family trip, and you don’t want to be dragging someone along who really has no interest being there in the first place. If you’re kids are old enough, include them in the decision-making process too! Decide together which place you are all most excited about.
There’s lots to consider here, and making a decision won’t be easy, but let me leave you with one last thought.
Despite how hard it can be to pick just one place from a long list of many, here’s the thing: you have to pick one! You can’t see it all right now. It’s going to take time – years, decades – to get all the way through your bucket list. So instead of trying to see as much as possible now, pick one place that you really want to visit and see it with your whole heart. Tell everyone of your plans so you’ll be held accountable. And once you conquer that first trip, promise yourself you’ll continue to make travel a priority. Anyone can say they want to travel more — the real question is…where are you going?
Once you’ve narrowed down your top pick, keep pinning ideas (you can never have too many)! We’ll catch back up for step 3 soon!
Tell me in the comments below, where are you going??
Check out the full step-by-step guide:
Step 1 // Setting Goals & Expectations
Step 2 // How to Decide Where to Go
Step 3 // How to Start Saving for Travel
Step 4 // How to Find Unique Things to Do
Step 5 // Using Google Maps to Plan Your Trip
Step 6 // How to Create the Perfect Itinerary
Step 7 // How to Build a Travel Budget
Step 8 // How to Save Big When Booking Travel
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