Kids are out of school and the sun is blazing…yep, it is definitely summer time! Like a majority of others, summer is the time for vacations and my family is no exception. I have been busy trying to figure out all the typical stuff, where to go, how much to spend, how are we going to get there, etc… you know how the story goes. For many of us, we need a vacation from planning the vacation. Well, I wanted to share some tips on how to plan your summer vacation…stress free!
The first thing is to figure out when you would like to go on vacation. For military families, this means our soldier needs to be able to take leave. Once you have decided on a time frame, you soldier should put in for leave as soon as possible, this way you have the best chance of getting the dates you want. Be sure to consider any special dates during summer or if you find special offers from companies – check to see if they pertain to certain dates or time frames. In our family, our daughter has a birthday in July. This was also the best time for my husband, who is a recruiter, to take leave. I decided we would plan our vacation on my daughter’s birthday – what an awesome birthday gift, right!
Well, this brought me to my second question. Where should we go? The first thing I did was make a list of places I thought my family would enjoy. I then began looking online for special deals or military packages. Many companies offer great vacation packages for military families. Be sure to do your research! Google will be your best friend! After completing my research, I decided on Universal Studios, Orlando. They offered great military packages and I knew it was a place the whole family could enjoy and what a surprise for my daughter…shhh…we still have not told her yet! J
Once I decided on the vacation destination, I had to start thinking about the dreaded “m” word…money. This is where I began creating our vacation budget. I began by making a list of expenses. I first contacted Universal Studios and got a quote on our vacation package and what exactly the package entailed, so I was sure of the details. Universal was extremely friendly and helpful in answering all my questions and providing me with a quote. I was also given the dates they would need my deposit by and the date the package would need to be paid in full. These are important dates to have. Be sure, if you are doing a package deal that you write this information down in your calendar. Once I got all the information I needed from Universal, I started writing down other incidentals. We have pets, they will need boarding. What expenses will I have that are not covered in our package deal? How much are we willing to use as spending money? These are all things you will need to think about as you create your budget.
As you work on your budget, you will come across your next big question…how are we getting to our destination? We live in Georgia, so we decided we would drive to Universal. But for you and your family, you may decide flying is the best way to get to your destination. Once again, this is where Google will come in handy. Be sure to research all airlines. Some will offer great summer deals – but again – be sure to check date restrictions and such. Make sure they coincide with the dates you want to travel. Once you have decided your means of transportation, you can work the cost into your budget.
Once you have begun planning your vacation, use a manila folder or small binder to keep all your vacation information together. This helps keep you organized and when you pack for your trip, you can simply grab your folder or notebook and you have all your vacation information right there. This is important, as many hotels and such require you to bring certain materials with you, such as receipts and confirmation emails.
I hope these tips help to keep you on the organized and stress-free track as you begin planning your summer vacation. I am well on our way to our Universal summer extravaganza. Let me know where you are going this summer!