Planning a family getaway in 2018? Many parents start the journey—the planning part anyway—right about now.
Vacationing B.K.—before kids—might not have taken much planning at all, especially if you’ve got that “wing-it” attitude. But now that you have children, the pressure is on to plan the greatest days of the year. And for many parents, there’s this added feeling that family vacations are the top lifetime memory makers, so the stakes are high to create something awesome.
The good news: you don’t have to travel far or spend a lot of money. Not that there’s anything wrong with far-flung journeys—if you have the opportunity to travel the world, go for it. Here are some ideas to help you take that first step on your trek, wherever it may take you.
For parents on a moderate budget, San Diego gets top votes from Amber Koll and Linda Heyde, agents at travel agency network Travel Leaders. Knoll recommends kid-friendly spots such as Legoland, the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, the Birch Aquarium, SeaWorld, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Coronado and La Jolla Beaches. Older children may like Belmont Park and tours of the USS Midway Museum. Heyde recommends getting a “Go San Diego” five-day passes to save even more.
New York is a great choice for the whole family, says Roberta Long-Kelleher, luxury travel agent for Protravel International. It’s easy to hit cultural, historic, and artistic sites in a trip. Her top choices include Central Park Zoo and the Museum of Natural History’s dinosaur and oceanographic exhibits. She recommends ending the day with afternoon tea at the Plaza Hotel.
To introduce kids the idea of foreign travel—and expose kids to the idea of currency exchange—consider Canada, says David Fishman, agent with Travel Leaders. Cities like Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver are beautiful and cosmopolitan, with plenty of kid-friendly activities.
“It is so close and so safe, and they speak the language. Canada has great museums, restaurants, shopping, and many great outdoor activities for the whole family. Something for everyone at about 25% to 30% savings with your U.S. dollar,” he says. (As of November 2017, the Canadian dollar is trading at about 78 cents to the U.S. dollar.)
Although English is spoken throughout Canada, the preferred language in Quebec is French. If you want to add that European touch without crossing the Atlantic, Montreal is a top choice.
Are you looking to go all-out in 2018? Long-Kelleher says a dream trip is a Kenya safari with Micato Safaris. This trip “will make everyone more sensitive to the amazing creatures in this part of the world. Visit the school sponsored by AmericaShare, and see how Micato is helping to educate children. It is the most awesome and memorable place,” she says.
Paying for It
You might not want to plan every detail of what you’ll do on vacation to allow some spontaneity, but you should consider how you plan to pay for your vacation. Sketch out a plan now to earmark how to save for a spring break or summer getaway.
Unless you’re planning for a big, blow-out vacation that’s five or more years down the road, the money earmarked for travel is usually kept in more liquid accounts. Think about the different cash management vehicles out there. Short-term savings in money-market accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs), and other common saving products may allow some flexibility to make withdrawals when you need cash for life’s little adventures. But if you invest in a CD, make sure to match its maturity date with your planned trip. CDs typically come with a penalty for early withdrawal.
Refer to this primer for more on saving for short-term investing.
Whether it’s a trip down the road or around the world, preparing for a kid-friendly vacation can be one of the more rewarding plans you make. Bon voyage!
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