Organizing Your Family Trip – Part 1: Planning

What better time to start preparing for your next trip than right now?  The busy travel season is approaching especially for family travel with kids finishing up school and warmer summer weather on its way.  It’s good to be prepared for anything while traveling this year since airline staffing issues, rising airline ticket prices, elevated cost of goods, and changing COVID rules and mandates globally may present some unique travel challenges to consider while planning.  Even if you’re not ready to get out there and start traveling yet, according to this National Geographic article, it may give you a psychological boost to plan a trip. I think we could all use a boost at this point so let’s start planning!

The initial stage of planning a trip is always my favorite part.  At this point in the process, before factoring in reality and your budget, anything is possible!  Researching and learning about other locations, cultures, and cuisines in anticipation of a trip is so much, but there are a lot of factors to consider before officially deciding where to go.  Here are a few things to take into consideration to help you organize your next family adventure.

Length of Stay.

The amount of time you are able to get away will help you finalize a few different things about your trip such as where to go and how many different places you can see or activities you will be able to fit in your itinerary.  It may mean a vacation closer to home if you can only manage a long weekend away versus a couple of weeks.

Type of Trip.

Deciding on the type of trip you want to take will narrow down your options as well.  For instance, if you want to spend some downtime recharging your batteries on your getaway, you may not want to plan to spend your entire trip at Disneyland but if you’re looking for a nostalgic trip full of fun, exciting amusement park rides for the kids, a stay at Disneyland would be a great destination.  If you were wanting to get away from it all to immerse yourself in a new culture then maybe planning a trip abroad to a new destination is the vibe you would enjoy.  There’s a travel destination suited for everyone that will fulfill your vacation wants and needs and the fun part is imagining the itinerary for your dream destination.

Number of People.

When planning a trip for a family, size matters!  A large group means more money, personalities, and opinions.  It also means more space and time may be required for enjoying your time away.  It will be more challenging but could mean a more rewarding experience with your family.  To plan a trip everyone can get excited about, try to get everyone’s input and accommodate as many interests and preferences as possible.  I learned this after getting married six years ago since my husband and I have VERY different visions of the ideal vacation.  As an experienced solo traveler, I love to use every second of my trip seeing and doing as much as possible while my husband, a less experienced traveler and lover of naps, needs more time to relax and recharge on his trips.  So now I make plans knowing I need to factor in some time for rest, relaxation, and naps for my husband and our small children if we’re all going to enjoy our time together.


There are many options for your accommodation preferences while traveling.  Pick the option that works for your family and vibe your trying to achieve for your trip. For instance, if your priority is to see and experience everything on your trip to a big city, you may decide that a hotel in the city’s center may work best to give you the most of out your vacation but if you’re looking for more space and quiet, relaxing accommodations, a house rental in the countryside may be more suited to meet your needs. Bed and breakfasts and family-friendly hostels are also options, depending on your destination.

Reason for trip.

Your reason for traveling will also help narrow down your options for dates, season of travel, and location.  If you’re looking to travel on a budget, you can save money by being flexible with travel dates and arrival or departure locations as well as traveling during the off season versus the peak season.  If your reason for traveling is to experience a certain city like Venice, Italy, you may want to plan to go during peak season in the summer since Venice’s acqua alta season occurs, typically, from October to January.  Or if you want to attend a particular event like the cherry blossom festival in Kyoto, Japan, you would have to go when they bloom in spring.  Planning a trip around certain activities like an African safari or skiing in Canada could mean going at specific times of the year so make sure to plan accordingly!  Another thing to consider is the ambience of the trip you want to have.  For example, an Alaskan cruise is great in the summer when the wildlife is abundant and the weather is mild but if you’re looking to catch a glimpse of the northern lights, you may decide to brave the extreme winter weather.  And a trip to Germany during Oktoberfest may be a different experience than a trip during Christmastime.  Also worth mentioning would be the fact that the Southern Hemisphere experiences seasons opposite to the Northern Hemisphere.  This is something I found out when booking my spring semester courses at my home university in Alaska for my Australia study abroad semester, which was the fall semester in Sydney, Australia where I was going to be studying.

Most importantly, go where your imagination and research takes you!  Have fun learning about potential destinations and explore all of your options.  Sometimes what we think we know about a place may make it seem outside the realm of possibilities for family travel or budget but a closer look and a bit of searching may leave you with more answers, and you may find that your travel dreams are more family-friendly and affordable than you realized.