Traveling is a big priority for our family.
Both Bart and I grew up in families that traveled a lot (my family mostly traveled in the US, while Bart’s family went all over Europe during his growing up years – he always gets to go first in Ticket to Ride Europe).
From our earliest days of marriage, the majority of our extra funds went toward plane tickets and cheap hotels and visiting new places, and we haven’t slowed down with the addition of kids.
Now, with our lives a little more settled and our girls on a school schedule, we have a fairly regular travel schedule that we can all count on.
Obviously, this is a flexible and things change a bit from year to year, but this framework helps us plan out our schedule and budget as we think ahead.
It also helps us take advantage of cheap tickets because when we see something come up, we can see which trip slot that might fit into (for instance, when there were basically free tickets to Dallas with our points back in January, we could look ahead, see that we had no plans for Fall break yet and that it’d be the perfect time to visit Texas. Booked and ready to go, nine months ahead of time!).
I subscribe to Scott’s Cheap Flights (I have the free version) and I also follow Flights from Home to get alerts about cheap tickets.
Here’s what our family vacation schedule looks like:
Our Annual Vacation Schedule
WINTER ESCAPE TRIP
This trip started when we moved to Utah and we were suddenly facing down a real winter for the first time in nearly a decade. We decided that every year, we’d take a quick weekend trip somewhere warm in January or February. Our first year we went to Las Vegas and stayed with my parents, so it cost us only two tanks of gas. Last year, we did St. George and got an inexpensive condo with a pool. The girls usually miss one day of school and it’s a very fun little break from the cold.
SPRING BREAK TRIP
Sometimes this is a low-key trip (two of the last three years, we’ve rented a condo in St. George and mostly just gone swimming, hiking, and playing) and other years – especially as the girls get older – this will be a bigger trip.
It took us years to get in a good groove of doing a trip just the two of us after we had kids, but once our youngest was a little over a year old, we’ve started trying to do one week-long trip each year. My mom told us about four years ago that she was willing to watch our kids one week a year, so she (and now my dad, since he recently retired) come stay at our house for a week while we go somewhere fun. We went to Italy in 2018, South Korea in 2019, Salt Lake City in 2020 (thanks, Covid) and Miami in 2021.
BIG FAMILY TRIP
This one is a moving target and is mostly based on when ticket availability comes up. We jumped on cheap tickets to Hawaii in 2019 and went for a week in May and this year, we went to London as a family (also thanks to cheap tickets). Sometimes our big family trip overlaps with Spring Break (it will in 2022 for our family).
FALL BREAK TRIP
It took me several years to get in the groove of fall break with our school schedule, but last year, just before school started, Bart and I sat down and planned our trip to Zion National Park and it was so fun to have that to look forward to and felt like such a great little getaway instead of just sitting home for fall break. This year, we used our credit card points to go to Texas to visit family and friends in Dallas and Austin.
We usually try to do a weekend trip as a family somewhere over a holiday weekend or in the summer – we loved visiting Boise a couple of years ago over Labor Day weekend and it’s a great way to explore places within driving distance. Yellowstone is high on my list for next year!
ONE ON ONE CHILD TRIP
This was our first year doing a trip with one child and one parent and the next one won’t be until 2023, but then we’ll have 1-2 of these trips a year until our girls start leaving home. It’s just a few days (our trip to New York was from Thursday to Sunday) and since it’s only one parent and one child, it’s easy to fit that in since everyone else’s schedule stays pretty much the same.
We also usually have a couple of family reunions in the summer (luckily for us, they are primarily in Utah, so it doesn’t require much traveling or significant cost) and I usually take the girls to Las Vegas once or twice during the summer to spend a couple of days taking advantage of my parents’ pool. The last two years, my sister Merrick and her boys have met up with us there over Memorial Day and that’s been EXTRA fun.
Do you have a family vacation schedule? Or how do you plan for trips and vacations?
I’d love to hear!
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