I just got back from a marvelous family vacation with my youngest son and his family. I am still basking in the warmth of wonderful memories mixed with the sadness of missing them already. The problem is that although our family ties are close we are physically miles apart. I live in New Jersey and my son lives in Arizona. Every time I leave them, I cry a little at the airport. The grandchildren are growing up so fast, and it’s important that I stay connected to them. It’s time to start planning my next trip!
How Will I Afford It? I’m a senior living on a rather limited fixed income, so one of my main concerns every year is how I will pay for my travels. I’ve found that the best way is to use my American Express rewards card for all of my purchases and then use the cash back for the plane flight to Arizona. I use the card for as many purchases as I can, and the cash back usually totals about $800.00 a year. This is more than enough to pay for my next flight. The trick with the rewards card is to make sure to pay it off every month, something I am faithful in doing.
How Will I Book the Flight? I like to book directly with Southwest airlines. I prefer this airline because they still don’t charge extra for baggage, have non-stop flights to Phoenix, and usually have the best rates. You can find really cheap Web specials, but you have to book them fast – a special will be advertised on their site one day but may be gone by the next. My last flight was only $261.40 for a round trip non-stop flight from Philadelphia to Phoenix. I checked it against rates quoted in Travelocity and Orbitz, and it was absolutely the cheapest.
When Will I Go? Since Arizona is blazing hot in the summer, I try to plan my visits either in the March-April or October-November time frame. That way we can plan on spending time with the kids outdoors. There are plenty of places to go around the Phoenix area. Some of our favorite day trips include a visit to the old copper mining town of Jerome, a picnic lunch in nearby Tonto National Forest, or a visit to the beautiful town of Sedona nestled in the Red Rock country.
Just planning this family vacation eases my heart somewhat. A trip to a tropical island or an expensive cruise couldn’t ever mean as much to me as these visits. The quality time that I spend with my family makes these reunions the best vacations ever.