As a married dad of three kids, family vacations are a big deal. Long gone are days of last-minute flights. Instead, all things must be perfectly orchestrated to satisfy everyone.
Our children are under ten years old, so the annual trip occurs during summer vacation. With school closed, my wife and I must still select the perfect week, in minimal conflict with commitments such as camp. Naturally, notice must also be given at work.
Once time is selected, a destination needs be chosen. As Florida residents, we prefer staying in the Southeast, where travel is within a day’s drive. A family event, such as a wedding, occasionally falls during summer and beyond an easy drive. In those cases, the cost of travel dictates combining such trips into vacations.
Next summer, I don’t anticipate external events influencing plans. Therefore, we will likely select a nearby spot for adventures. We have yet to duplicate a selection, with the exception of Orlando. Every three or four years, our family makes the short trip to Central Florida for a Disney vacation.
Not ready for reunion with Mickey Mouse, our trip will encompass more traditional sightseeing. We have previously spent enjoyable weeks in places like Myrtle Beach, Atlanta, and the Smoky Mountains. Unless return is demanded, we will avoid these destinations.
Leading 2012 candidates, under prior consideration, include Texas, the Outer Banks, and Panama City.
Our family obviously enjoys the beach. Though residing minutes from beaches in Southwest Florida, each coastal spot is unique. Furthermore, these areas offer food, fun, and attractions specifically catering to children.
We won’t make a decision until a few months before departure. However, research starts long before and the opinions of each family member will be garnered. Diverse options for lodging are essential. In Daytona, we secured a beachfront room. In Myrtle Beach, that room proved too costly so we stayed in town.
Saving for travel usually begins upon receiving our annual tax return. If favorable, we set aside a significant part of needed cost and the rest is secured incrementally. Fuel is a high burden and always heavily weighed.
The budget for our getaways averages around $2000. That’s significant money, especially when considering spending it in only seven days.
Yet, recollections of trips are priceless, since each represented a stage of development for our children. These adventures are immortalized through joyful memories and millions of photos snapped by dad.
Jeff Briscoe is an attorney and a freelance writer, who specializes in sports, travel, and outdoor recreation for the Fort Myers Examiner and the Yahoo! Contributor Network.