So, my father took an old Mott's apple juice jar (remember when they were glass and not hard plastic?) and taped a handmade sign to it that read, "COINS FOR DISNEY WORLD." At first we were really motivated. We ran around the house looking for pennies in the sofa cushions and at the bottom of purses. It seemed we were finally going to be on our way to meet Mickey Mouse!
*Spoiler Alert: We never saved enough to get to Disney.
We made it eventually, but no thanks to the coin jar.
As you've probably guessed, our plan was flawed from the get-go. Mostly because we had no plan. We had no idea how much everything cost. Airfare, hotel, theme park tickets, food, car rental, etc. We just haphazardly tossed money into a glass jar hoping we'd have enough.
We had no roadmap.
No clear path - just a blurry vision of the four of us standing in front of Cinderella Castle.
There was no Internet to rely on (this was the 1980s) and travel agents charged a hefty commission. So we were mostly on our own. As a result, we never made it to Disney as a family until after my sister and I both graduated high school.
What Does Your Roadmap Look Like?
You wouldn't go on a trip without a roadmap or a GPS, would you? I mean, if you live in New England and you want to go to Florida, would you just start driving south? Of course you wouldn't!
You'd get your plan in place. You'd think about rush hour in the cities you'll need to drive through or near (Boston, New York, DC).
You'd think about your passengers and how many breaks you'd need (food, restroom breaks, diaper changes).
And you'd think about how much money you would need (gas, food, hotel). In short, you'd make a plan.
TOP 4 Things to Think About Before You Start Planning Your Vacation
- YOUR BUDGET: How much are you willing to be flexible with your money? Or how little?
- YOUR TIMEFRAME: Will you take the kids out of school (during a less crowded time of year) or will you go in the summer or on school breaks when it's busier?
- YOUR MUST-SEE LIST: If your daughter wants a picture with Cinderella, your son wants to drive a race car and your husband wants to golf, how can you make these things happen?
- Your OK-To-Skip LIST: Knowing what you and your family don't want to do is just as important as your must-see list. Identifying this in advance will save you time and help you plan your days more efficiently.
Piggy banks (or coin jars) are fun. They can even be great motivators. But without a plan, it's like dropping pennies in a wishing well.
So how do you plan your vacation? Is it stressful? What would make it easier?