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The first step to planning a family vacation is to decide where your dreams want to go.  I usually become inspired by a book or a picture I see while scrolling through Pinterest.  Sometimes I speak to a friend who talks about an experience they had that sounds so spectacular that I have to learn more.  Other times I read a blog post that speaks so loudly to me that  have to experience the place for myself.  It doesn’t take much to inspire me because I am enthralled by everywhere!!

The next thing I do is purchase a few guide books.  You can go to any book store and purchase lots of beautiful books and read them cover to cover, but I prefer to go to the used book store and pay $.50 (what a deal, right?!) for an older book.  The sites don’t change, so I get an idea of what there is to see without spending a fortune.  Now the restaurants and hotels do change, so don’t try to use old guide books to make reservations!  Site hours may also change, but my point is the basics will remain the same and you can decide if you really want to visit a certain place without spending too much money.  Lots of people will go to a bookstore cafe and read guide books without purchasing them, but that simply doesn’t work for me with two active children. Do what works for you!

After I decide on a place I would like to visit, I check out my bottom line costs.  I look at airfare and lodging costs to see if I can afford to plan further.  I do lots of scenarios with airlines to get the best pricing. If I am traveling to a specific country, I use the internet to determine if that country has it’s own airline. Many times these smaller, lesser known airlines will have a lower cost such as Norwegian Air when traveling to Europe.  Check out the travel sites such as Expedia and Orbitz to compare the major airlines while using flexible travel dates which often results in lower costs.  Change out different cities and countries to see what is cheapest and then you can use rails and regional airlines like Easy Jet or Ryanair to get to where you want to be.  The next step is lodging.  Will a hotel work?  Many European hotels only have room for two or three people.  If you are in a hotel, will you have to put your kids to bed at 8pm and then just sit there twiddling your thumbs until you are tired at 10pm?  When traveling with my children, we like to rent homes and apartments through VRBO.com and AirBNB.com.  Be very careful to make sure you read all the details and reviews of a place to stay, but we have been happy with these services every time we’ve used them.  It also helps when you can put the children to bed and still enjoy your evening relaxing with a glass of Italian red!!

1.  Pick a place you are interested in

2.  Buy some guide books or travel magazines

3.  Look at your budget.  What do you have to spend on a vacation?

4.  Check airfare prices.

5.  Check lodging prices.

Once you choose a place to visit, you can really start researching!!