I just hugged my kids goodbye this morning as they headed off to their first day of school. I can’t believe the summer is already over for kids in many parts of the country. For me, the summer flew by, although it seems like ages ago that we took our first trip of the summer.
As I was reflecting on my family’s summer last night, I asked my kids what they liked and didn’t like about our summer travel and activities. It reminded me of the “post-mortem” analysis I used to do in my corporate job after every fiscal quarter. I hope we can learn from the good and the bad and apply our insights to next summer’s trip planning.
Our Summer Travel Recap and Other Activities
On the first day of summer break, my kids and I flew to Newark, NJ. We met up with my mom and sister for a 5-night cruise to Bermuda on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas. We stayed in New York City for two nights before returning home.
My oldest son and I had just one full week at home before we left for Washington, D.C. Our flight home was canceled due to rain, so we ended up with three nights in the city. Neither of us wanted to go on that trip, but at least we were rewarded with the delivery of my son’s Russian passport a few months later.
Three days after getting back from Washington, D.C., all five of us flew to Sydney, Australia and then to New Zealand for a 15-night vacation.
Two days after we returned, my oldest son started driver’s ed. It was kind of a pain because I had to drag my youngest with me for drop-offs and pick-ups. The class killed a lot of our summer time, but it’s a necessary evil.
My younger kids each did a week-long summer day camp, my oldest went to a sleepaway tennis camp and together we started a volunteer job at our local animal shelter. In our remaining downtime, we went to our neighborhood pool, our city rec pool and the trampoline park. And of course, my boys played a lot of video games and all my kids watched their fair share of TV this summer. My son’s high school tennis practice started mid-July, which also cut our summer downtime short.
Lodging Choices: Everyone in my family is in agreement that our lodging choices worked very well on all of our trips. We prioritized space and comfort over cost.
On the cruise, we had two connecting rooms that fit two people in each. In Australia/New Zealand, we had a combination of two hotel rooms, a rental house and a campground cabin. I truly believe that the extra space saved us many arguments and eye rolls while increasing our vacation enjoyment.
Timing: The timing of our trips worked to our advantage. By scheduling a trip the first day of summer vacation in late May, we reaped the benefit of lower cruise prices and lower crowds.
Scheduling our big trip down under over the July 4thholiday period also worked well for us. My husband’s office shuts down for three days that week, so we were able to stretch his vacation days to include more traveling this year.
What Didn’t Work
Length of Travel and Number of Trips: We all agreed that the length of our trip to Australia and New Zealand was too long. We missed our beds and dogs too much. A better trip length for us is 7-10 days.
My boys complained that we took too many trips. I can see why they would think that, especially my oldest who had to squeeze in that trip to Washington, D.C. in between our other two vacations. (My daughter, on the other hand, had no complaints and would like to travel more).
When we originally made our travel plans for this summer, we only had the one big trip down under. The cruise was added in December by request of my 80-year-old mom. I couldn’t turn her down. And the Washington, D.C. was added a month prior out of necessity.
We are just not the kind of family who can travel all summer. Even if my husband had unlimited vacation days from work and I had endless miles and points or cash to burn on travel, we just couldn’t do it. We like to hang out at home, see our friends and chill.
Lack of Pool Time: In past summers, the kids and I have gone to our neighborhood pool at least 2-3 times a week. This summer, I took them maybe 2-3 times TOTAL!
Part of the problem was our frequent traveling. But my son’s tennis and driving activities definitely got in the way as well as an injury during the past 2 weeks that has prevented me from swimming. And since I couldn’t get in the water myself these past 2 weeks, I didn’t feel like baking in the 100+ degree temperatures outside while my kids swim.
Plans for Next Summer
Putting all these thoughts on paper has helped me better strategize for next year’s summer break. I don’t want to over-plan our summer again.
For sure, we are going to Disney World at the beginning of the summer. Lodging prices are lower, and temperatures and crowds should be lower as well. We will likely loop in Universal to our trip but keep our total number of days to 7-8.
A few weeks later, I have a short 4-day trip with my daughter in the planning stages. I will share more details about it next week.
For all five of us, I’d like to plan a short three- to five-day getaway around July 4thagain to coincide with my husband’s office closure. I know that if I don’t plan a small trip, he will go crazy staying around the house. We may rent a cabin in Broken Bow, Oklahoma or in the Ozarks.
Originally, I was planning a trip to San Antonio next summer to use our Hyatt anniversary certificates at Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort. That was on our schedule for this summer, but we couldn’t make it because the Hyatt anniversary certificates are taking up to 10 weeks to arrive. However, rather than adding yet another trip to our summer schedule, I’m considering scrapping this idea and tacking on two nights to our spring break trip in a Hyatt hotel.
I’m very thankful for our travels and experiences this past summer. I would never have been able to pull off all three of our trips without miles and points.
Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? Yes, I think so. Travel burnout is a real thing. I hope that next summer my family can achieve a good balance between travel, swimming and chilling at home.
Is school starting for your kids soon? What, if anything, would you do differently next summer?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.