Well, this year once again we are fortunate to be able to take our grandsons on a little vacation. Like all families, we want to get the most of that valuable time and the best way to do that is planning! If you follow these simple steps you can maximize of your time, stay within your budget and meet your holiday goals whatever they might be. Remember you have to be adaptable and some time you might just want to leave days for the unknown. There is no such thing as a full proof plan, but there is an improved likelihood you’ll have a stress free and fun holiday with kids if you take the time to put together a travel itinerary. Avoid the tears and disappointments that come with poor planning and try these 8 easy steps to planning the best trip ever!
STEP #1 – What Is The Purpose of Your Holiday?
Before you commit to a particular vacation spot always consider what the goal is. Are you seeking something quiet and restful or after more wilderness adventure? Is the trip about spending time together as a family or having variety of options so everyone can do their own thing? These are the kind of questions you should consider to ensure you are planning the vacation that’s right for you and your family. When we started planning our vacation we established that the itinerary would be based on attractions or activities of interest to the grand kids with some less active days in there for us. Once you established your personal vacation criteria you are ready to start planning!
STEP #2 – Set Date and General Location
Set the dates and general locations. In in our case we knew we wanted to go to Calgary and the Rockies and maybe a few attraction along the way, but we kept it general and let step 3 narrow down the specifics as to exactly where, what and for how long.
STEP #3 Research Attractions
Now it’s on to research. Start by visiting websites and social media sites to find the articles and reviews about family fun attractions in and around the area. Make a list of what interests you or your family. Don’t spend a lot of time with this, give it a quick review and if it looks interesting then add it to your info, for now, just gather possibilities. There are endless ways to organize your info: book mark, itinerary apps, social media platforms, Trello and more so use what works for you.I find it easiest to just use a word document, I copy and paste a general summary of the attractions I find with a hyper-link to the website so I can easily review info and re-order from most to least favorite in step #4.
Tip Also include research on indoor alternative options so you’re prepared if it rains. Look for back up activities like bowling, rec centers in the area; indoor rocky climbing, museums so you’re not trying to search for options with unhappy kids in the back seat. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, you’re prepared and ready with Plan B.
STEP #4 Review & Select Best Picks
Once you have compiled a master “wish” list of attractions you might want to visit, check each website for more info. There is nothing worse then telling the kids you’re going to do something amazing and then get there only to find out they are too young or too short to participate or you needed to pre-book. This can all be avoided by planning in advance. Are your children within the required age, weight or height for access? What are the costs? If the activity or attraction looks right for your family keep it on the list and add a notation regarding costs or particulars. Prioritize the the attractions by re-ordering them into a list with starting with your number one pick and working your way down.
STEP #5 Budget Considerations
You should have a general idea of how much you are prepared to spend on activities and attractions. First add up the costs for all the activities you’ve selected and see if it is within your means. If not, remove activities starting at the bottom of your list and working up until you are within budget. Once you’ve arrived at a final list of things that work within your budget, you will have a better idea of where to book your hotel and for how long. Before I started my attraction/activity list, I had thought we would likely spend the most time in Banff but surprisingly, it wasn’t the case.
STEP #6 – Booking
I can`t tell you how critical it is to book ahead and at that time get any information on what you`ll need for that activity. For example, we were reminded when we booked our horse riding activity to make sure we have sturdy shoes or boots and helmets with us so I was able to make a notation on my itinerary to remind the boys to bring along hiking boots and their bike helmets.
STEP # 7 – Accommodations
Now that you know where you want to be and for how long; the next step is to book your accommodations. Hopefully you have a sense of what your budget will be for accommodations so you want to take cost into consideration as well what amenities or options you’d prefer when you pick your hotels and don’t leave it to the last minute, particularly if you want to book a hotel with a pool or water-slides – don’t delay.
STEP # 8 – Itinerary
Now you know what you want to do on each given day and have booked accommodations or attractions you simply put together an overview of info. On my itinerary, I include all the confirmation numbers, dates, booked times, costs, contact numbers, particulars re what we need to have and as I mentioned earlier you can use all sorts of platforms online to do this or write it out manually if that works for you! I also have a back up list of activities if the weather doesn`t co-operate. Taking the time to have it set out in your calendar or listed by the days, helps you see things you might not have notices; for example, maybe you have 3 days with lots of activity and then 3 days with very little, you might want to change up the order of things. Having a visual timeline or overview really helps you to see the big picture.
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