Traveling With Kids: Realizing Your Dream Trip

By Nina Terrero

Sep 8, 2011 2:06pm

What would you do if you won the lottery? For many parents, a lucky lottery draw might mean setting up a college fund, paying off the house… and going on an exotic vacation with the kids.

Travelocity and TakingtheKids recently collaborated on a poll asking families where they’d take their kids on their “dream trip” if money was no object.

The results from the 1,500 people surveyed indicated that no matter how bad the economy might be, parents “dream big” when it comes to far-flung locales where they can take their children.

A foreign city was on the dream list for 37 percent of respondents polled and 27 percent said they’d choose Europe.  Some 22 percent said that relaxation on the beach would be their choice while 11 percent of parents would love to go on a trek to see exotic wildlife.

Europe, Hawaii and the Mediterranean were the most popular “dream destinations” picked by parents, while 9 percent said they’d choose Orlando as their dream trip.

What’s interesting about this survey is that most families don’t realize that these dream vacations are actually more affordable that they realize – if they travel smart, said Eileen Ogintz, author of the weekly syndicated column “TakingtheKids.”

“Everyone seems to have a bucket list about where they want to go, and even in these tough times, people don’t have to give up their travel dreams. For families, vacations are the way we create life-long memories, and in the bad times, a trip to Hawaii or a cruise can really sustain you,” Ogintz told ABCNews.com.

Given that 88 percent of families with kids at home already have their dream vacation in mind, Ogintz says that there a few practical tips that can make planning your fantasy trip a reality that won’t break the bank.

“Your dreams become much more reasonable if you consider traveling at off-peak times and participate in a house swap,” Ogintz said. “There are also other steps that make planning easier, like scheduling fewer plane stops. You might save a little money with three stops on a flight to Hawaii, but every time you stop creates the potential of things getting messed up, like a flight being cancelled. Travel insurance is also a great idea, because it helps cover the cost of airfare and hotel in the event of bad weather.”

Genevieve Brown, Travelocity editorial director, says that there’s no better time than the present to consider whisking the kids away on vacation. “The average air fare to Europe during the fall season is about 20 percent less than it was a month ago in August. When you get there, you’ll find fewer crowds, better weather than in the summer months and hotel rates are lower too.”

Don’t let the fact that the kids are in school deter you either, as Thanksgiving can be one of the best times of the year for families to get away. “The numbers of Americans flying domestic that week can really drive down the cost of international airfare,” said Brown.

Even exotic destinations like Hawaii and Africa can be made more affordable when parents book a flight and hotel at the same time, one of the easiest ways to save.

“People get so fixated on the cost of the flight that they overlook elements of their trip like the hotel, which is so important to the overall enjoyment of your vacation. Plan with your whole budget in mind, and remember that airlines and hotels are more likely to lower their rates when you book those trip elements at the same time, as opposed to when you book them separately. The average savings can be $525 per booking — a significant amount of money when everyone’s watching their dollars,” Brown said.

Regardless of dollars saved, a family vacation should include kids in the planning process.

“The more the kids are involved whatever their ages, the more vested they can be in the trip. They can lead you to places you would have never found or planned for. That’s really the key thing — if a kid is held accountable for the trip, they don’t feel like they are being dragged around. It’s great to get kids out of their comfort zone and experience travel,” said Ogintz.

So why are you still reading? Start planning!

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