Author Topic: Seeking family vacation ideas  (Read 1171 times)

Captain FIRE

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Seeking family vacation ideas
« on: February 13, 2018, 07:32:00 AM »
Looking for family vacation ideas.  My husband's sister wants everyone to go on Alaskan cruise this fall, but there are a few issues: 1) it's crazy expensive (after cruise fare, tips, flights, excursions it'd likely be $7.5k!), 2) the kids in the family aren't old enough to qualify for excursions, nor do any of the ships offer babysitting in Alaska for their ages, so we'd be stuck doing nothing after spending a ton to get there, and 3) really limited cruise options at this "late" date.

She likes the idea of seeing Alaska & being able to go back to their own room and have privacy (and is the only sibling w/o kids so doesn't seem to care about that part of our concerns).  Haven't spoken yet to the other sibling to find out his requirements.  This is probably a futile endeavor because she seems really set on it, but I'd like to suggest some different options rather than just saying no we won't go.  Please help me brainstorm.  Ideas should be:
- Cheaper (but not to camping level though, that won't fly)
- Offer privacy so people can get away from each other (no renting of a house together)
- Not be in Zikaland
- Be suitable for kids under age 3 (almost 3, 1.5, 6 mo)
- Be suitable for early September

Location is generally irrelevant as everyone already lives 2-3k miles from each other.

So far I have come up with:
- Cruise to Canada, where babysitting for under 3 crowd is available
- Hotel in North Carolina for a beach break
- All inclusive in Florida

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Seeking family vacation ideas
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2018, 08:21:55 AM »
I agree with you - I would not be taking kids of that age on an Alaskan cruise.  It's too expensive and they won't get anything out of the ports, which means YOU won't get anything out of the ports.  (I did love my Alaskan cruise, though, and highly encourage you to do it if you can without the kids one day soon.)

Cruising is a terrific vacation option for families with kids of that age as well.  You might also look at cruises leaving from Puerto Rico (which go to the Southern Caribbean islands, not the South American mainland where Zika is prevalent), or cruises going to Bermuda.

Are you hikers and willing to go places with a baby or toddler strapped to your back (if there are enough backs to go around)?  I'd recommend Lake Tahoe or even the Banff/Jasper National Park area of Alberta.  There are a lot of fun day hikes (including some really easy ones), plus lakes and glaciers and beautiful views.  I had a great vacation in Banff with a 6-month-old.

Finally, what about just flying to Alaska and staying put in one of the cities for a few days?  Or flying to British Columbia and taking the train as far into Canada as you'd like?

Sibley

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Re: Seeking family vacation ideas
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2018, 09:12:06 AM »
If this SIL is determined to go on this particular cruise, your only real option is to say, thanks for the invite but we won't be able to come. If she's going to be selfish/oblivious, she can suffer the consequences.

Given your kid's ages, if you really want to do a cruise pick one designed for families with kids that is setup for infants and toddlers. Of course, that isn't as fun for the SIL without kids.

Alternatively, all the kids get left behind with someone and you have an adults only cruise to Alaska. That's presuming you've got someone who's willing to take a bunch of little kids for a week.

jeromedawg

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Re: Seeking family vacation ideas
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2018, 09:30:35 AM »
While I don't necessarily agree with not taking kids on an Alaskan cruise because they are "too young", given that you have THREE kids that are 3 and under, I would say that it would be pretty hard, especially if you at all find it difficult traveling *anywhere* let alone dealing with 3 kids so close in age in general. We have two right now that are about 1.5 years apart like your first two, and it can be crazy at times. And I keep hearing and imagining how much harder with 3 since you're outnumbered but it's even a taller order when the kids are less than 2 years apart from each other starting out! So kudos to you on the front, as a side!
 
Anyway, when my son was just over 1 we went on a family vacation/cruise to Alaska. We had a great time even though he was sick and had a breakout of hives and terrible time sleeping the first night. My wife was pregnant with our second and she was also seasick the first couple of nights. It was horrible at first but we still enjoyed the time overall - lots of [good] memories. Now, if we had our second by then I think it would be much harder. Dealing with multiple sleep schedules would be the killer. I can't imagine how it would be with three LOs and dealing with their sleep AND feeding schedules on any cruise.

That said, one option might be to rent some cabins in the mountains or near a lake? Perhaps Yosemite? Should be fairly warm around that time. If you're into hiking/outdoors/etc then that could be something to consider - I wouldn't think it would be too hard finding cabins that are relatively near one another.

What kinds of activities do you and your family/kids and your extended family enjoy doing either together or separately?

jeninco

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Re: Seeking family vacation ideas
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2018, 09:52:12 AM »
With various aged kids, we've had luck renting houses on quiet (i.e. hardly any surf) beaches. One or two adults can get up early with the kids and head down to the water, and everyone else can sleep in a bit. Bonus points if there are a few interesting things to do. We've had luck renting houses on quiet beaches in the Bahamas (Abaco island, I believe), and Akumel, Mexico (which has the advantage of mayan ruins within reasonable driving distance).

Also, having access to a kitchen makes life much easier -- if someone's having a meltdown, just make dinner and stay in.

jeromedawg

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Re: Seeking family vacation ideas
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2018, 10:05:58 AM »
With various aged kids, we've had luck renting houses on quiet (i.e. hardly any surf) beaches. One or two adults can get up early with the kids and head down to the water, and everyone else can sleep in a bit. Bonus points if there are a few interesting things to do. We've had luck renting houses on quiet beaches in the Bahamas (Abaco island, I believe), and Akumel, Mexico (which has the advantage of mayan ruins within reasonable driving distance).

Also, having access to a kitchen makes life much easier -- if someone's having a meltdown, just make dinner and stay in.

I would tend to agree with this for sure, even though we haven't ever done this LOL. But the idea of it just sounds *easy* - only thing is making sure folks are willing to cook. If everyone hates cooking, that's going to be problematic methinks. There's obviously the part of going grocery shopping for enough people for X days as well. Or making sure the place isn't so remote that the nearest grocery store is an hour away, etc...

Either way, I really like this idea. Especially the Mexico one considering we visited Costa Maya a few years ago on a cruise and I'd love to go back for fly fishing.

Fishindude

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Re: Seeking family vacation ideas
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2018, 10:29:19 AM »
I've done the AK cruise and have also been to AK six other times on various trips.   I do not think this is a very good destination for little kids.  The airline travel, small quarters on cruise ships, large crowds, etc. would be a total pain in the rear.   For that matter, I wouldn't take kids to AK at all until they were at least 12 or so, so that they travel well, can get along without full supervision, etc.   Flying with little ones sucks, their ears pop so they cry, diapers have to be changed, they can't run around, etc.   

When our kids were young like that the normal vacation as to rent a big house on a lake or beach somewhere for a week, someplace big enough to handle multiple families.   The vacation and water is right out the back door, you can do your own cooking, kids can take naps, etc.   Much more manageable situation when kids are small.   A drive to destination would likely work better than flying.

You don't mention where you are from?   That would be helpful.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2018, 10:32:42 AM by Fishindude »

jeromedawg

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Re: Seeking family vacation ideas
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2018, 10:55:24 AM »
I've done the AK cruise and have also been to AK six other times on various trips.   I do not think this is a very good destination for little kids.  The airline travel, small quarters on cruise ships, large crowds, etc. would be a total pain in the rear.   For that matter, I wouldn't take kids to AK at all until they were at least 12 or so, so that they travel well, can get along without full supervision, etc.   Flying with little ones sucks, their ears pop so they cry, diapers have to be changed, they can't run around, etc.   

When our kids were young like that the normal vacation as to rent a big house on a lake or beach somewhere for a week, someplace big enough to handle multiple families.   The vacation and water is right out the back door, you can do your own cooking, kids can take naps, etc.   Much more manageable situation when kids are small.   A drive to destination would likely work better than flying.

You don't mention where you are from?   That would be helpful.

RE: flying with kids and taking them to places where most people wouldn't - it's really what you make of it. I avoid and dread flying with LOs too. But other people just shrug it off and it isn't a big deal to them. I guess another factor is how long the flight is and where you're coming from. On the flight from Orange County to Seattle, our LO cried a majority of the time because he was coming down with something. The people in front of us gave us a look as we were getting off the plane. We felt bad but shrugged it off ultimately. Of course, at that time he couldn't really walk or move around much. So maybe there's more of a 'sweet spot' age where you can take them on the plane without it being as much of a hassle. I think when they're infants it's not as bad. I can imagine if they're restless toddlers though, that could be more of a nightmare.

Other than that, AK wasn't bad with just one. I can't speak for having more than one LO and bringing them to such a far destination. I think a lot of this just comes down to what the family likes doing together - some families are perfectly content staying on the cruise ship the whole time and their infants and toddlers may do fine. But why go to AK right? If you're planning to bring them on multiple excursions that would be rough. Though, it depends - we did a private bus tour in Skagway where the driver took us along the Klondike Hwy to/from the port and gave us some history, stopping off at various points along the way. This was very suitable for bringing young kids along.

The other thing that helped was having multiple hands to pass the kid off to - if OP is going with a larger extended family, the burden of handling three kids at once could potentially be split up a little.

Another thing to point out regarding sleeping schedules is if all three kids all have their own rooms and are used to sleeping on their own or are waking up at night still. If you're sharing a single cabin on a cruise ship with 3 kids all who have different night sleeping schedules/routines, it's going to be a mess. Unless you 'condition' them to sleep all together with you in the same room before you go.

I'm not advocating for doing something that just sounds incredibly crazy (which I think is, as far as bringing 3 LOs under 3 on an Alaskan cruise). I'm just saying that it not necessarily true that AK is "not good" for LOs

Noodle

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Re: Seeking family vacation ideas
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2018, 11:33:26 AM »
It really sounds like what you are looking for is an old-school resort (I guess these days it would be an all-inclusive.) The Victorians were always going off to the seaside to stay in grand hotels where meals and activities were included. I know a lot of the current resorts are in the tropics, but in about two minutes of Googling I found ones in California and Tennessee. Dude ranches might also be something to investigate...I think those also tend to run on the inclusive model.

Captain FIRE

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Re: Seeking family vacation ideas
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2018, 12:35:38 PM »
To clarify a few points/answer questions:
- We have only one kid (the 1.5 yo).  Another sibling has the other two.  The 3rd sibling has none.
- I lived in Alaska for 3 years growing up, so I'm pretty familiar with activities that can be done there.  :)  Most things I would want to do aren't really suitable for a young child.  For example, I have really fond memories of hiking up a mountain and walking on a glacier.  My brother who was 6-7 at the time did just fine, but it doesn't work for the little ones.  The older two can't walk it and are active creatures who wouldn't be happy being carried that long even if our backs held out (we're older parents...and not proper mustachian in shape biking everyday ones).  (Moreover, I do want to take my kid there when he's older enough to remember it, so it wouldn't even be a "once in a lifetime trip".)  I've been to all of the cruise ship cities multiple times.
- I said location was somewhat irrelevant as we all live far apart, but someone wanted to know more details of where.  We live East Coast, West Coast, and Mexico. 
- We will not be leaving our kid behind.  My folks wouldn't take him that long, we aren't keen on them watching him alone at their place anyways just yet (my mom persists in trying to put him in antique crib/high chair that are incredibly unsafe), and I wouldn't want to leave him for 9 days at that age anyways.  Plus part of the point of the family trip is so he gets to know his aunts/uncles/cousins.

For the ideas:
- I will propose Puerto Rico/Bermuda cruises but I suspect they will be shot down for Zika concerns.  (I already suggested beach generally, and the response came back "Zika" as if all beaches had Zika.)
- I'll suggest a stay put vacation in Alaska. 
- I'll suggest everyone rent a different cabin.
- However, as I mentioned in my initial post, one house rental is completely out because of the privacy factor.  This is the sibling that asked for a hotel room away from everyone else at our wedding.  (It was a challenge because we also needed to keep the divorced parents far apart too!)  Here's an excerpted portion of her exact words: "We also like that on a cruise everyone has their own space and can meet up with other family members or not, and there's prepared food available pretty much all the time.  If we do a cruise we can also offer it up to any friends/extended family/in-laws etc. and whoever joins makes it more the merrier!" 

If this SIL is determined to go on this particular cruise, your only real option is to say, thanks for the invite but we won't be able to come. If she's going to be selfish/oblivious, she can suffer the consequences.

Yes, that's the backup plan.  But it's nice to at least suggest some ideas that fit the stated criteria first, so we at least tried.  We didn't go on the last two "family" vacations because the first they planned and invited us on *right* after we got back from a vacation so we had no vacation days to spare, and the second because I was pregnant and they planned it in Zikaland.  (Clearly they go to a lot of effort to make sure we're involved in the planning process...)

PLEASE do not quote me as I'll edit this later to remove a bunch of identifying details.

jeromedawg

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Re: Seeking family vacation ideas
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2018, 01:11:06 PM »
When you were estimating the $7.5k cost for Alaska, was that just for your immediate family alone?

If so, that *is* a lot for a family of three.

Have you considered Hawaii? Perhaps Kauai or Maui? If you enjoy hiking, Kauai especially. 

I just thought I'd mention it since I haven't seen it mentioned yet. Flights can be had for a reasonable rate depending on when you go, and your kid should fly for free since he's under 2. There should be plenty of options (also with reasonable rates) on AirBNB/Homeaway/VRBO/etc as far as places to stay and you should be able to find separate places to stay where you can have privacy, be able to do your own thing, but close enough to where you can all meet at the beach or meet for dinner. 

Another option, if you're wanting beach at all, would be beach towns in CA - Monterey, Coronado, Huntington/Seal Beach, Pismo Beach, etc....
Another option
« Last Edit: February 13, 2018, 01:16:18 PM by jeromedawg »

Captain FIRE

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Re: Seeking family vacation ideas
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2018, 01:21:38 PM »
Yes, $7.5k would be just for our immediate family, which is why I'm balking.  It's about $5k for cruise fares (we would only do balcony - 1) why go to Alaska and not see it, 2) so we can hang out on the balcony during naps rather than be trapped in the room & have issues getting the kid to nap with us present, 3) it's hard to downgrade when we've always done balconies - but I've always managed to get much, much better deals on our few cruises than are possible with this trip).  Flights are probably another ~$1.5-2k.  Tips are ~$250.  And then there's excursions.  We have a very good household income, but the other two kids either make *way* more than us or have substantially lower cost of living (in a different country and subsidized by their jobs), so they are not price sensitive.

One sibling just went to Hawaii a few months ago, so I doubt they'd want to return so soon.  Otherwise it'd be a great idea.

Prairie Stash

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Re: Seeking family vacation ideas
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2018, 01:26:00 PM »
How long is the vacation? A trip to Europe costs a fair bit to get there, but I found the hotel costs worked in my favour. At the time I was getting hotels cheaper in Paris then I do locally...it makes no sense.

Look at trip Advisor or VRBO. Rent out a few houses or apartments if you want, you can rent out houses anywhere in the world. For $7500 I think you can get a trip to Italy, with a 2 week apartment/house rental and food. That's without any creativity, like hacking air miles. The bonus is eating all the pasta you can handle :)

I'm not saying Italy is the best place in the world to visit, just saying its possible to get luxurious vacations anywhere. Lots of other places are also relatively inexpensive, go explore your heritage, or check out some landmarks.

$7500 for 9 days is a lot. I think Disneyland is cheaper at that point.

jeromedawg

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Re: Seeking family vacation ideas
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2018, 01:50:00 PM »
Yes, $7.5k would be just for our immediate family, which is why I'm balking.  It's about $5k for cruise fares (we would only do balcony - 1) why go to Alaska and not see it, 2) so we can hang out on the balcony during naps rather than be trapped in the room & have issues getting the kid to nap with us present, 3) it's hard to downgrade when we've always done balconies - but I've always managed to get much, much better deals on our few cruises than are possible with this trip).  Flights are probably another ~$1.5-2k.  Tips are ~$250.  And then there's excursions.  We have a very good household income, but the other two kids either make *way* more than us or have substantially lower cost of living (in a different country and subsidized by their jobs), so they are not price sensitive.

One sibling just went to Hawaii a few months ago, so I doubt they'd want to return so soon.  Otherwise it'd be a great idea.

Which island did they go to? Perhaps if you went to a different island they may not mind as much... ?


FINate

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Re: Seeking family vacation ideas
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2018, 02:02:47 PM »
I know your pain. We had an in-law who repeatedly tried to plan lavish vacations. We always politely declined because it never made sense with little kids in tow.

IMHO the main goals of an extended family vacation with little kids are:
  • Spend quality time with aunts/uncles/cousins you don't see much.
  • Play in the water, or at the beach, or in the forest with said relatives. It's amazing how much fun kids can have at a lake, or with mud, sticks, and rocks.
That's it. The kids really only want to play, and as a parent I really don't want to be chasing kids around or entertaining them while trying to sightsee. A warm beach and a cold beer in the shade, catching up with family while our kids play. Cheap. Simple.

The great thing about this is that you can do it just about anywhere in the country. Which means you can pick a place within reasonable driving distance for most people. And you can pick an area that's not a huge destination (read: cheap).

Camping may not be an option for your relatives, but there's no reason you all must have the same accommodations. Most regional summer destinations will have simple resort accommodations nearby and/or VRBO/AirBnB people who don't camp can choose from. If you're ok with camping you can do this very inexpensively. Most USFS campgrounds run about $15/night...or, in many National Forests and BLM land you can disperse camp for free (call the district office to find out the specific restrictions).

The general idea is to find a nearby lake or stream with good swimming beach. Meet the family there for day time swimming and general hanging out. Bring a cooler and a small BBQ, and drinks. Many areas have scenic bike paths so if you drive and can bring bikes/trailer (for younger kids), or you can usually rent this stuff there as well. Hikes with the extended family are also a great option. Have a group dinner at the campsite followed by campfire and smores, and then the non-campers return to their accommodations for the night. Go out to for a big dinner or breakfast or whatever. Go check out some local parks or kid attractions (old steam train, etc.). Lots of options to keep the kids happy. 

bognish

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Re: Seeking family vacation ideas
« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2018, 02:19:47 PM »
I found that vacations with kids were more work & stress than vacation until about 3 years old. But if you must go you could look at ski/mountain resorts. Early September is perfect weather and off season prices. Pack City UT, Vail, Rocky Mtn Park CO or Jackson Hole WY Tahoe CA. Activities to entertain adults and a 2 year old really won't know where they are anyways. Maybe Russian River CA for wine, redwoods & cold beach.

crispy

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Re: Seeking family vacation ideas
« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2018, 04:44:20 PM »
How about a resort in the Texas Hill Country/San Antonio area? With the locations you list, it seems like a good middle ground distance wise. Plus, there is a variety of things to do...SeaWorld, water parks, The  Alamo, Riverwalk, wineries, etc.