November 01, 2013

Vacation Planning for the larger family

  The leaves have already changed decorating our neighborhood with brilliant reds, bright oranges and beautiful shades of yellows.
Earlier last week I began packing away all of the kids summer clothes and have started to dig out everything we will need for fall.  As we wait for the bus each morning I am reminded with the crispness in the air that it won't be long now before I am going to have to pull out the winter hats and mittens to keep the little ones warmer at the bus while we wait.
We are days away from Thanksgiving and already my thoughts have turned to the cold and snow.
We decided months ago that we would do something different this year and we would go away for a winter vacation when the weather takes a nasty turn here. 
We thought about Mexico or the Dominican.
Somewhere warm and near a beach.
When your land locked like we are vacation planning usually includes tropical weather and drinks with umbrellas and meals that are exotic enought that even though your not sure what it is you will try it anywhere.
So honestly that's along the lines of what I was thinking we would be doing.
Have you ever noticed that Vacation planning has this uncanny way of taking on a life of its own.
Daydreaming turns into hours scouring the internet looking and dreaming and planning.
Big daddy and I went on our first cruise in '09 to Hawaii.
You can see the cruise ship we were on pictured above.
I fell in love with the ocean.
Watching the dolphins play in the wake behind the boat.
The harbor seals watching the boats as we pull into port.
The smell of the fresh ocean air, the sun on my face.  
Watching the stars at night plus the gentle rocking of the boat as we drifted off to sleep at night. 
I would go for another cruise again in a heartbeat but that's not the trip we have in mind this time.
Vacationing is so relaxing right?
So, why can vacation planning be so challenging?
If it were just the two of us I could do most of the booking by myself without the help,of a Travel agent.
Point and click!
Bada bing bada bang bada boom!
But when you have a large family that's where it gets tricky.
By large I mean 2 parents and 4 children.
Three children they are anticipating but four {gasp!} and suddenly you have too many people per room and that just won't do!
You could split up your family but then you will be charged for two rooms and then somehow your 8 year old becomes an adult over night and your charged full fees.
Seriously the big hotel,chains would rather rent out a room to two,adults and one child then one adult and one child.
Plus the rooms might not be beside each other either.
The family suites aren't "big enough" to accommodate even though two children could happily share a bed and not have a single issue.
I tried on my own for days and either the package I look at was ridiculously overpriced or because of our family size unobtainable.
We could rent a condo but when you add in flights and meals it was frustrating to say the least!
 It was looking like our winter trip wasn't going to happen this year until we changed our focus.  There is a place a little closer to home that will have almost all of what we are seeking.  
Sun, sand and surf plus the sticker shock isn't as drastic.
So, where are we going?
We have booked our vacation to the sunny shores of California and will be spending 6 nights in Anaheim.
We have already set a date with the mouse. 
It's a huge family secret and we wouldn't have been able to book this trip without the help of our air miles travel agent.

Not only did using our air miles save us almost 3k but all the stress I was feeling lifted and now we can enjoy our upcoming vacation!

By using a travel agent We snagged a 3 day park hopper passes plus three character meals. We have transfers from the airport to the hotel so we don't have to rent a car at the airport.
Talk about savings!

This trip is huge for us.

Tons of "firsts" for the monkeys.
First air plane ride. 
First time leaving the country.
First time seeing palm trees and the ocean.

When we leave here there will more than likely be snow on the ground and I for one am looking forward to feeling the sun.
We have kept this entire vacation under wraps so the kids are in the dark.

Now the only thing I have left to do is pack. 
Without the kids finding out.

Having a large family can make vacation planning harder but not impossible.  
Now to figure out how to keep costs down while we are Gone.

Have you struggled in the past with vacation planning?

What's your best money saving vacation tip?

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  1. Now that we have three kiddos, we need to start looking at how to plan for vacations. Traveling with two kids was so easy, but so many packages/deals are geared toward families of four. Thanks for the tips!

  2. I have never really struggled with vacation planning. We usually went to a theme park when my daughter was younger. Now that she is a young adult, I think I struggle with where to go more often.

  3. I have not even tried to plan a vacation. My son wants to go to Lego I think that will be our first big vacation. These are great tips.

  4. I think as long as you make the planning process a fun, collaborative, communicative process, you can't go wrong. If everybody has something to look forward to, then that's what I call a vacation. :-)

  5. I tell you, even trying to vacation with three kids is rough... Suites are horribly expensive and we don't like splitting up... But sounds like you have quite a fun time ahead!

  6. Oh Anaheim is a great place for vacations! I always search on Tripadvisor and Expedia to get the best rates.

  7. Ugh, I'm going through this right now! We did Disney in June along with a week on Sanibel Island... and we fell in love with the beaches and the water so here we are again - trying to plan a RELAXING vacation for a family of 8 and it just seems so crazy and stressful.

  8. I think it takes a ton of research and planning ahead to find those things you might overlook if you book too quickly. I'm so glad it worked out well for you!

  9. Vacation planning is hard work. It is worth it in the end, but it is such hard work.

  10. I agree, planning a vacation with a larger family is almost like a full time job, but fun at the same time!

  11. have fun on your trip!! we did disney in jan of this year- firsts were aplenty for my little monkeys

  12. I went on my first cruise last year. A lot of pre-planning went in to it and the trip to Florida. I felt so much at ease when it came time to go because I did have it all planned. Even a few little last minute excursions that popped were not stressful since most of the rest of the trip was taken care of

  13. Fun fun! Congrats on getting to take a new trip and create memories with your family. That is awesome! We haven't done a big vacation in a while.. but I've noticed that if you visit the website for the place you are visiting, they often have deals there. I think that is a great starting point! ;) Have fun!

  14. What a great surprise for the kids! They will have a lot of fun for sure. I would love to take a cruise too.

  15. We absolutely love to go on cruises. We like Disney the best if you can afford it, its pricey. For us, it is well worth the money.

  16. That sounds fabulous we can't afford to take many vacations. Generally we just hit a close beach.

  17. I'm one of five, so this is a great post!

  18. Great tips! We aren't a very large family but I find it to be expensive just to take our family of 4 anywhere.

  19. I don't struggle with vacation planning because we don't vacation.. My husband goes to Mexico every year for a few weeks to visit his parents and his kids (who live with his parents) from his late wife.. I would love to go with him but its to expensive for a family of now 7 to way we could afford it..

  20. Our trips are usually to family that are 5-6 hours away but we haven't vacationed by ourselves to some where else other than that



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