Never mind that it’s the middle of January. To put together the
perfect summer family vacation, some say start planning now
“Sometimes to figure out the best place for people to go on vacation, you have to pull it out of them. But once it comes out, I say to myself, ‘By God, these kids want to go scuba diving, and they’re not going to do that in Rome,'” said Eleanor Frusetta, a travel agent at Gilroy Travel. “If they want to dive, we’ve got to send them someplace that has water.”
It’s time to consider this and other travel truths surrounding family summer vacations. Yes, summer. Never mind that we’ve just survived the holidays, forget the frost on the grass in the early morning hours, and disregard the calendar. It’s time to start thinking about June, July and August.
When To Book
“People should be booking summer vacations now … actually, they should have booked yesterday,” said Marita Roth, a travel agent at Christopher Travel in Morgan Hill. “The earlier you book, the more you save.”
People hoping to go to particularly popular destinations, such as Hawaii or on cruises, should book as early as possible, Frusetta said. Some vacations, such as Mediterranean cruises, need to be booked as much as a year in advance, Roth said.
Last-minute discounts are a myth, said Linda Daughenbaugh, owner of Fast Travel in Hollister.
“If you’re going to be traveling during summer, the busiest time of year, last-minute specials aren’t going to happen,” she said. “To get what you want at the best value, the sooner you book, the better. And remember that destinations always get very, very busy in the middle of June, right after graduation.”
Choose A Spot
“There are a lot of things to keep in mind when deciding where to go,” said Frusetta. “How much time do you have? How much is your budget? How old are the children?”
People with flexible travel dates are more likely to get better deals, Frusetta said. Looking at airfares in and out of different cities can also save money.
“If you were planning to go to several cities, check and see which one is the cheapest to fly to,” she explained.
Other things to consider when choosing a vacation destination are the interests of every family member.
“Make sure there’s activities to keep everyone occupied and happy,” Roth said. “You don’t want to go stay at a golf resort for a dad that wants to golf, and then the kids have nothing to do and are bored silly. Some people just want cheap, cheap, cheap, but that’s not always the best thing. What if the cheapest thing is a place you’re really not interested in?”
Above all, make sure the place you’re thinking of going caters to your interests, Frusetta said.
Where to Go
The top four spots South Valley travel agents mentioned for family vacations were Disneyland, Hawaii, cruises – particularly to Alaska and the Mediterranean – and Italy.
Cruises are particularly popular because certain lines provide activities for all ages, and Mexican all-inclusive resort vacations are popular with people who don’t want to be surprised by the credit card bill when they get home, Roth said.
Italy is popular with families with older children, who can remember and appreciate the history of the country, and Disneyland is a favorite because of its close proximity and popularity with younger children, Daughenbaugh said.
Hawaiian vacations are always more popular with West Coast residents because the flight isn’t as long as flights to Europe or other tropical spots, and also provides entertainment for the whole family, Frusetta said.
The Price of Relaxation
Here are some price examples for the top four destinations. All prices are based on a family of four traveling between June 10 and 24.
A flight from San Francisco to Rome, connecting in Atlanta is $1,247 per person, round-trip.
Total: $4,988 for airfare alone
A direct flight from San Jose to Honolulu is $764 per person, round-trip.
Total: $3,056 for airfare alone
A seven-day cruise on a Royal Caribbean ship, calling in Venice, Italy; Athens, Greece; Rhodes, Greece; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Venice, Italy is $1,099 per person.
Total: $4,396, airfare not included
A four-day Park-Hopper Pass is $169 per person. It’s approximately 340 miles to Disneyland from the South Valley. Estimating the price of gas at $2.50 a gallon and assuming a car gets about 30 miles per gallon, gas would cost $560 round-trip.
Total: $1,236 for gas and tickets, hotel not included