Step 1: Write A Family Travel Mission Statement
Have all family members identify what they are looking for in travel. Education and relaxation are on the top of most people’s lists. Is travel an occasional treat or are you trying to get to every continent before the kids go to college? Do you want to stick to State and National Parks for outdoor, unplugged time together? Do you just want to spend time together? You’ll find that everyone’s goals can be very different. My youngest son doesn’t have an interest in going anywhere he can’t see sea life in it’s natural habitat. The island of Bimini in the Bahamas is on the top of his list to visit Lemon Sharks. My oldest son wants to go to the Rockies and go skiing. But ultimately, they’re both happy if we can spend time together doing something fun.
Step 2: Develop a Travel Wish List
Have everyone thing about the places they’ve always thought about visiting but also encourage them to fantasize about where they’d love to go. What does it look like? What does it smell like? What is there to do? What do they want to see?
Step 3: Work up a Travel Budget
While it may be impossible to know from one year to the next how much one can afford to spend on travel, it’s important to do at least a rough budget looking ahead five years. Maybe you can afford to save $50/month because your kids are potty training and buying diapers is no longer necessary. Maybe $250/month is doable because you paid off your car. Only you know how much you can afford. Knowing how much it’s going to cost is another factor that you should know.
Step 4: Identify Time Constraints
School calendars define when travel is doable for kids. I don’t mind pulling my kids out of school if their grades are good. However if their grades are suffering, then it’s not an option. That’s something they were made very aware of this year. Work schedules can be pressing. Meetings, trainings and events make it hard. Sports commitments can be very limiting to travel. All of these scheduling aspects may have to be factored in to when is the best time to go. Typically the best time to go, when the kids are out of school and you have time off work tends to be over holidays, which are more expensive times to travel. If you can swing an off time, you can save a bundle.
Step 5: Analyze Age/Interest Differences
While my 9 year old might be itching to go skiing and his brother wants to see the Lemon Sharks in the Bahamas, we have to choose something that suits us all. It’s important to please everyone. There are numerous creative solutions a travel agent can offer for situations like this. Maybe meeting other kids is on the top of both of their lists. Or maybe some beach time and R&R is exactly what everyone needs at the end of a long winter. You can always plan your next trip to the mountains, they’re beautiful in the summer too. You can always plan to go to Bimini when he gets a little older and will remember the trip a little better. What my kids love is that they have our undivided attention for the duration of the trip and we spend time with just them. No emails, no phone calls and lots of fun.
Step 6: Plan Other Getaways
Don’t lose sight of the importance of setting aside romantic weekends away or seizing opportunities to go off solo or with college roommates. Romantic weekends are great for the kids too, they get quality time with grandparents. Time along allows you to grow as an individual. These trips may not be as long or as extravagant, but they’re much needed for everyone.
Step 7: Write it All Down
In my experience, five years is the best travel planning in terms of effectiveness. You get to go where you want to go, you get the best available pricing, you have time to save and make payments and plenty of time to plan. It’s an all around WIN!
Step 8: Revisit Your Travel Plan Annually
Review it once a year or more often if you want. I like to dream, so my list is constantly evolving. Life changes, people loose jobs, have kids, get married, graduate college, get new jobs, build and buy homes, buy cars….life constantly is evolving. I love my bucket list planning program. It’s just for those people that love to plan ahead! A long term travel plan is for those people that know where they want to go, but don’t want to spend the endless hours of planning for their trip. It’s for people that dream big and save to do something amazing.
Step 9: Plan for the Unexpected
Don’t discount travel insurance. Booking well in advance is great for a budget, but life happens. You want to protect your investment in travel just as you do your car, home, health and life. There are amazing annual travel plans that can offer you great savings if you travel more than once a year. Ask your travel specialist about these plans. If they cannot assist you, you don’t want to work with them. A good travel specialist knows about these options and can assist you with them.
Check out the Bucket List Travel Planning Program to get started planning years of travel excitement!