Last fall I mentioned that we were in the very beginning stages of planning a family vacation. We tend to go where we are invited; and thanks to my blogging and generous family members, that’s worked out for us okay thus far. But I considered the ages of my kids and decided that if they’re going to see anything beyond the East coast before they leave home, it’s now or never.
When I was in high school, my mom took our family to California, and that is a trip I’ve always remembered because it was the first time I went somewhere totally NEW. You see, I grew up vacationing with family in Maine and Virginia Beach, much like my kids have grown up vacationing with family in Maine and the Jersey Shore and the occasional trip to Disney World. NOT that I consider them deprived in any way. They’ve seen a lot and had some great experiences and made wonderful memories, but I’m ready to show them something NEW.
We debated various options including Hilton Head, areas of Florida, Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon and more. We also debated the time of year. Should we go for Spring Break (for some reason, I had my heart set on a Spring Break trip; we have NEVER done that before) or wait until the summer when we have more time and flexibility with our schedule??
I was quickly becoming overwhelmed with options so I reached out to my friend and travel writer, Carol Cain, for advice. She told me that when planning a new trip, they always start by looking at plane tickets because the cost of airfare can quickly dictate which dates and locations are going to fit within your travel budget.
I had looked at hotel accommodations and weather patterns, but it hadn’t occurred to me to look into the cost of plane fare (clearly I’m not a seasoned traveler.) So I did some quick Expedia research.
It quickly became evident that we would need at least a year to plan a trip to Yellowstone. Even for the summer of 2015, many of the accommodations were already booked, plus airfare is astronomical. It will take some time and research to figure out the best way to make that trip affordable for us so we are tabling that idea for another year or two.
We really want to show the kids a part of the country they haven’t seen before, which eliminates pretty much anything on the East coast, bringing us back to my original idea: Arizona!
We finally decided to plan our trip for Spring Break because the weather is much nicer in Arizona in April than in June or July. We will fly into Phoenix and stay a few nights in Scottsdale and enjoy some of the attractions the Phoenix/Scottsdale area has to offer. Then we will drive up to Sedona/Flagstaff for the second half of our trip, see the sites, and take a day trip to the Grand Canyon.
During the busyness of the holidays we let our travel planning slide, but we knew that if this trip was going to happen, we would need to get right on it as soon as the Christmas tree was put away. That is exactly what we did over the weekend.
I am happy to report that we have hotel reservations and plane tickets booked. WOOT!!!!
Arizona, here we come!!!
I was able to secure a media rate at the Hyatt Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale, which is where my husband and I stayed when I visited Arizona ten years ago. I cannot WAIT to go back. It’s a lovely place to hang out and relax, so I plan to schedule time to unwind by the pool in the warm Arizona sunshine.
For our time up north, I made reservations at the Hilton Sedona. Doesn’t this photo simply take your breath away!!????
Traveling as a family of 5 creates some challenges, especially when trying to find affordable accommodations; that alone eliminated quite a number of possible hotels. The Hilton has a suite option with a pull-out bed that is going to be great for my teenage son. We will be a little bit tight at the Hyatt with a cot in a standard room, but we don’t plan to spend much time in the room so I’m sure it will work out okay. Plus everything seems to be more spacious out west.
Now it’s all about planning the itinerary, which is no small feat, but I am so much less stressed now that we have plane tickets and know where we’re going to stay.
You guys were super helpful with suggestions when I started talking about this trip last fall, and I took notes. Plus my friend Jodi wrote a Things To Do With Kids in Phoenix post for me so I have that to work from too.
Here is our bucket list. I KNOW we will not get to do all of this, but right now we are just in the gathering information stage of vacation planning.
Phoenix/Sedona/Flagstaff Bucket List
- Musical Instrument Museum
- Heard Museum
- Taliesin West
- Phoenix Zoo
- Grand Canyon
- Pink Jeep Tour (sunset preferred)
- Blazin’ M Ranch
Most importantly, I don’t want to over-plan the trip and feel like we’re rushing from one attraction to the next. I want to show my kids the Red Rocks and the gorgeous desert vistas because THAT is what I fell in love with when I visited.
I’m wide open to ideas and advice from those who have been there. Lay it on me!