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Planning a family vacation is exhausting!  After the process of actually planning the vacation, you need the vacation!  It’s been a while since our family has been on a vacation that we actually had to research.  Our trips usually consist of visits with family and skiing in Tahoe where we usually stay at the same place.  Our other vacations don’t take much planning either.  We usually extend an existing trip for work or for our kids sports tournaments ‘since we are already there.’  This summer we decided to take an actual vacation, where we didn’t HAVE to be somewhere already.  When the choice is left open, how do you narrow down where to go, how to get there and where to stay?

Planning a vacation, really comes down to a few things:

  1. How much money are we willing to spend (usually the first decision)?
  2. What do we want to do?  Relax, be adventurous, hang out in the mountains, at a beach or an amusement park?
  3. Determine how the money needs to allocated based on where we want to go – hotel, transportation (car/plane), food, activities while we are there, etc.
  4. Then we have to research!

Travel Website Overload

There are so many travel websites, that it’s hard to know where to start.

For us, once we were able to narrow down where we wanted to go (Cancun), my husband and I spent hours looking at all of the different travel websites.  We wanted to be sure we were getting the best deals on airfare, hotel, etc.  Some of the websites were questionable as to if they were legitimate.  We called a few to confirm, but ultimately stayed away from those.  In the end, we ended up using some of the common travel sites to look for deals, but then cross referenced with the actual site for the resort to ensure it was not being misrepresented.  We went back and forth on this for days.  It was like having another full time job!

How we made our decision on an All-Inclusive Resort

One thing that we decided on quickly is that we wanted to stay at an All-Inclusive Resort; a resort where lodging, at least 3 meals a day, drinks (including select alcoholic drinks) and gratuities are included in the per night rate.  Some of the all-inclusive resorts in Cancun also offer non-motorized water sports and other activities included as well!  With 2 boys ages 13 and 11, and the frequency and amount they eat and are active, it makes sense financially for us to stay at an All-Inclusive.

In our efforts to be financially frugal, and because we have to flight out of one airport and back to another, we booked our airfare separately. In doing this we were able to get great rates for the 4 of us.  Our flight there, we booked directly through the airline and our flight back we booked through Orbitz, to get the best rate.  Our flight back does require us to stay a night in Denver, but fortunately we have some great friends that live there and we will be able to see them!

After our extensive research, we decided to stay at the Moon Palace, Cancun.  We chose this resort because of the various options it has for our family.  Non-motorized water sports are included, and snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking are on our things that we plan on doing.  In addition, they have a teen hang out area, where the boys will be able to go hang out without mom and dad.  Good for them, and good for us!

How we found our best deal

Because we booked our airfare before our hotel through Orbitz, and were still searching for the best rate at Moon Palace, we got an amazing deal on the resort through Orbitz!  The site must have recognized that a flight was booked, but that searches for hotels had continued.  It was called a ‘Bundled Travel Discount’.  Our nightly rate offer was $90 less per night than other sites!  Needless to say we jumped on the deal and are ready to head to Cancun!

I am not saying that this strategy will work for everyone.  Not everyone wants to wait until the last minute, and not everyone wants to spend the time we did on research.  However, for us, it was worth it to get the best deal!


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