Four years ago, my husband and I were watching the London Olympics. We were really into it. Glued to the TV, in fact. We asked ourselves, “Why didn’t we go to London to watch these live in person?” Oh yeah, we had three young kids, including a 1-year-old. We also kicked ourselves for not traveling before to other Olympic games in earlier years that were much closer, like the ones in Salt Lake City and Vancouver.
So we hatched a plan. We would do whatever it takes to travel to the Rio Olympics in four years. We just needed to save up a lot of money and find someone willing to watch our three kids. Easy peasy, right?
Planning for Rio
We started working on our plan almost immediately after the London Olympics. I researched package prices to get an idea of possible prices for Rio. I read online bulletin boards with information on lodging possibilities. We also asked family members if they would consider watching our kids.
I discovered that condo rentals in Rio were very reasonable as long as the Olympics or the World Cup were not happening at the same time. Beautiful condos right on the beach were relatively inexpensive. Of course, the prices were triple for stays during the Olympics.
Many private condo owners were already taking reservations for the Rio Olympic games. We found a condo that was central to the event venues and close to transportation, and we were ready to put down a deposit for August 2016. We figured that if we actually took care of lodging we would be more motivated to follow through with our plans and make this trip happen. LET’S DO THIS!!!
Take my money already!
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
As fate would have it, the owner of the condo started stalling on our communication. Maybe he got busy, or maybe he was seeing if he could get more money from someone else. Other lodging options wouldn’t be released until about 18 months before the event, so we would have to wait.
As the months passed, I continued to get updates from travel agents specializing in the Olympics, but our enthusiasm for the trip waned. We focused on other family trips that were closer on the horizon. We began to have second thoughts.
Why We Didn’t Go
For starters, childcare was an issue. Finding someone to watch our kids has always been difficult, but finding someone to watch them while we left the country for a week was a tall order. My family in Colorado agreed, but we would have to fly our kids there and back in addition to getting us to Rio. We really didn’t want to bring our kids with us to the Olympics because it would drastically raise the price of our trip, and I didn’t think they would be interested in some of the events we wanted to watch.
We also started to think about what we’d have to give up in order to go to the Olympics. 2016 was my oldest son’s last year in elementary school and the last year I would feel comfortable pulling him out for a week or more to go on a trip. We wanted to go on a Disney Cruise during the last half of the school year in order to get the cheapest price. Due to cost and work vacation days, we would have to choose between Rio and the Disney Cruise.
I’m betting most people would have chosen Rio over the Disney Cruise. After all, the Olympics only happen once every four years. However, it wasn’t the best decision for our family. It just didn’t feel right. Although we would miss the Olympics in Rio, we would have another chance to go when our kids are older and better equipped to travel with us and appreciate the experience.
When I think about how old our kids will be for future Olympics, I freak out. My oldest son will be 16. SIXTEEN!!! My youngest child will be 9, almost 10. And if we wait until 2024, when the Olympic games have a chance at being in Los Angeles, I will have two teenagers and a 20-year-old son.
This week, we have been watching the Olympics on TV as a family. My kids are more into it than I thought they would be. We’ve enjoyed watching swimming and gymnastics, and we recorded the opening ceremonies to watch later.
Watching the Olympics
Dreaming About Tokyo
My kids heard my husband and I talking about our “almost-trip” to Rio, and now they are asking if we can go to the next summer Olympics in Tokyo. At first I laughed it off and told them it would be way too expensive. Then my oldest said, in all seriousness, “But Mom! You can use miles and points to get us there!” I guess he has been paying attention when I tell him that our trips are made possible due to miles and points.
The truth is, we would love to travel to Tokyo with our kids (someday—see my post about why I don’t want to take them overseas just yet). I traveled to Tokyo twice in my mid-20s for my job. It was amazing and different from the USA in every way. One of my trips was in April, when the cherry blossoms were just beginning to bloom. This photo doesn’t do justice to the beauty of the flowers.
That’s me in Tokyo, 2001
I didn’t have a lot of time to explore Tokyo since I was there on business. Of course I visited Tokyo Disneyland, but Tokyo Disney Sea was still under construction. I went on a day trip to Mt. Fuji and rode a bullet train for the first time.
But back to reality…even with the use of miles and points, getting my family of five to Tokyo will be very tough. I imagine that if I had enough points to fly us there, award availability will still be an issue. However, there are ways we could leverage miles and points to knock down the price of the trip:
- Use miles to fly first to a West Coast city like Los Angeles, which has flights to Japan for a lower cost
- Use miles to pay for one or two tickets, then use cash for the rest
- Find award availability to a different city in the same region and pay cash to fly or take a train to Tokyo. We are planning to take a big trip in 2021 to our boys’ birthplace, which is actually only about two-hour flight time from Tokyo. Maybe we could move our trip up a year, and combine it with the Olympics?
The wheels are turning in my head. I can’t commit to making Tokyo happen right now, but it’s nice to dream about the possibility and keep it as an exciting option. It would certainly be a trip to remember.
Have the Rio Olympics inspired you to travel to a future Olympic games?
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.