When I look back on my childhood, the memories that stand out the most are centered around family vacations. Whether it was something as simple as camping for the weekend with friends and family or the more extravagant adventures like going to Disney World, it's the unique and special moments is that stand out the most.
We are a family who loves to travel. We love all of it -- from planning every detail from the very beginning to the excitement of hopping on an airplane and exploring somewhere new. Making new memories and being able to spend time as a family is what life is all about. It's about bonding and appreciating the time spent with your loved ones.
At any given point in time, we usually have two or more vacations planned within the course of a year. Right now we have 3 planned for 2019: We are visiting Mexico with a group of our closest friends in January, we are going to New York City (again) for a Supercorss race in April, and then we have another Disney vacation planned for September 2019.
Basically if the opportunity arises to go on vacation, we always say yes and always find a way to make it work. Here is how and why we choose to live the way we do:
We are investing in time which is priceless.
We are not made of money. We do pretty well for ourselves, but our family vacations are always booked at discounted rates. I sometimes search the internet for weeks before I book flights, hotels, or transportation to ensure I've found the best deals. I will even continue to check on these rates after booking so I can cancel and re-book at the lower price if needed.
We have a JetBlue Plus credit card so our flights are always paid for by using points. We pay for EVERYTHING with out JetBlue card (this includes monthly bills) and pay it off immediately so we don't accrue any interest. Points rack up very quickly.
Per my previous blog posts, I have even used Swagbucks to pay for an entire Disney vacation. (You can find my detailed blog post here.)
We cut back on groceries. Maybe we will have things like grilled cheese during the week instead of buying a pricey steak. We eat out less and have even canceled our cable subscription to make things work. Sometimes we just say "screw it" and book a trip on our credit card with a plan to pay it off. Spend the money. Always take the trip.
Our kids are only little for a small amount of time. Before you know it, they will be grown and have families of their own. You can never put a price tag on making memories. Life is filled with so many uncertainties so if you want to do something, don't put it off. Do what makes you happy and find a way. You will never regret taking a family vacation, I promise.
We cut back on Christmas presents and "splurge" on vacations.
According to a Forbes article written in 2016, the average parent spends about $495 per child at Christmas. This number seems to jump by $100 per year, so let's say that average has jumped to $695 in 2018. A family with two children is looking at spending upwards of $1,390 on gifts that will be played with for a short amount of time and forgotten about within the course of just a few weeks -- sometimes even days. Factor in spouses and a family of 4 is roughly looking at spending $2,780 on Christmas presents for immediate family members.
To put it into perspective, $2,780 bought us a 6 night stay at Finest Playa Mujeres , an all inclusive resort, and a shorter 4 day vacation to Orlando, FL. That's TWO vacations for the same amount of money you would spend on Christmas gifts. If you factor in gifts for extended family members, depending on the size of your family, you can easily add an extra $1,000 to that final total -- if not more. You could travel almost anywhere with almost $4,000 extra in your pocket.
If a gift won't be used more than a few times or it doesn't have any personal meaning, we don't buy it. The days of buying fancy gifts that will not be used just for the sake of buying a gift no longer occurs in our little family. It's pointless and counterproductive.
In Cole's short 2 years on this Earth, he has already been to Mexico twice (3 times if you count our baby-moon!), New York City, Disney World, Salem, Boston, and countless other cities up and down the East coast.
No price can be put on the memories we have made with Cole on these trips. The time we spend together as a family is what life is all about -- building unbreakable bonds and creating a life of adventure.