Vacation planning – Destinations picked for 2016, 2017 and 2018!

For those of you who regularly read my blog – you know I am a planner. I typically have our next vacation planned out 6, 9 or 12 months in advance.

But now I think I have reached the pinnacle of planning. Not only do I have our vacation this year (Disney) scheduled, but I know where we are going in 2017 (Houston) and 2018 (Alaskan cruise). Yep, I am feeling like the ultimate planner right now.

Let me start with our newest vacation plan – a family cruise to Alaska! In August 2015, my family, my parents and brother took a Caribbean cruise (courtesy of my parents). We had three balcony cabins in a row and took family excursions in all of our stops. Everyone had a great time.

I guess the kids got the cruising bug because they were all for going again. When I mentioned there were cruises to Alaska, they both jumped on that idea. So we have been mulling this idea around for a while. Research quickly showed us that these cruises book up early, and they are more expensive than a Caribbean cruise. Part of the additional expense is because we will have to fly to Seattle rather than just drive to Galveston to board our ship.

Alaska – 2018

So while I would love to go to Alaska next summer, it just makes more sense to wait, save money and get the cabins/dates we want. And it didn’t take much convincing to get my parents and my brother to agree to go with us.

At the end of July, we booked our cruise for August 2018. My parents and my family will have connecting balcony cabins while my brother decided to go with a cabin that has a French door that partially opens and offers a view of the lifeboats. The price for this cabin is much cheaper, but at least he has a door that will provide some natural light and a cool breeze if he wants to open it.

Now we need to start saving money for airfare and excursions. I have already shown the kids the activities they can plan at each stop and have an idea of what they might want to do but we probably won’t book any of those until 2017. (Yes, yes, we will be booking early. You can’t say you are surprised.)

Houston – 2017

Now next summer, we are finally going to make it to Houston. After a Disney World trip in 2014, we decided that we would do something more low-key (read cheaper) for summer 2015. That was the plan until my parents offered to pay for the Caribbean Cruise in August 2015. So we pushed back the Houston trip until summer 2016. And then it got bumped when we decided to take a November trip to Disney World.

But now it is set in stone that we are going to Houston for a week next summer. We will visit the zoo, NASA, museums, the boardwalk and maybe even throw in a quick stop at the beach in Galveston.

Disney World – 2016

WDW ChristmasA huge tax return and the desire to go once again during the holiday season is what made us decide to do a Disney World trip in November of this year. Originally, we had talked about going in June 2017 but the last few trips have been in the heat of summer. And I can’t say no to going to Disney World when all the Christmas decorations are up. So we decide to take the kids out of school for a week and go this November.

I think I am most excited because we are renting part of a time share and are staying at the Animal Kingdom lodge. We will have giraffes and zebras right outside our room!

So now that we have the destinations picked for the next three years, it doesn’t mean the planning is over. Part of the fun for me is the planning, and I look forward to many months of research what to do on all these vacations.

Working on our plans for the summer of 2016

Anyone who follows my blog knows I am a planner. So yes, I am already planning our vacation for this summer.

cruiseLast year, we had plans to go to Houston, Texas as a cheaper vacation than the previous year’s trip to Disney World. Those plans got derailed when my parents opted to take the family on a Caribbean cruise at their expense. (I know we suffered there, right?)

So for this summer we considered returning to Disney World as it is one of my favorite places to go and this summer is the last of Jase’s elementary where we can have him miss the last days of school. (Next year, he is in the fifth grade and has a graduation ceremony on the last day.)

But as anyone who has been there or priced going to Disney World knows, it is not a cheap vacation. As much as I would love to go back, we also have some home-improvement projects in mind such as replacing the kitchen counters or putting in new carpet upstairs, neither of which is an inexpensive project.

In order for us to cross one of our improvements off the list, we opted to do a shorter, cheaper vacation and return to our Houston plans. In case you are wondering why Houston is a cheaper trip for us, we are in San Antonio, and Houston is only a 3-hour drive. (Orlando is an 18-hour drive, but we usually fly to save on time.)

nasaIn Houston, we plan to take advantage of the City Pass that allows you to visit five area attractions for about $50 per person. We plan to hit the zoo, the aquarium, NASA, the natural history museum and Kemah Boardwalk. (They also offer the children’s museum and the fine arts museum as options.)

I think we will have a blast. Now we are just trying to decide when to go over the summer. June is out because we have another trip planned. The kids and I are accompanying my husband to his seminar in Bastrop, Texas. It is at a resort that offers a water park in addition to hiking, bike riding and horseback riding.

During the summer, I also have a Parent-Teacher Association Leadership conference. This year it is in San Antonio so no extra travel for me. (If I don’t take an officer position in the PTA next year, I might skip the conference since I have gone the past two years.)

In addition to the conferences and trips, we will have the usual plans to hit the water park and other area attractions. Both kids have expressed interest in taking swimming lessons again. Lexie will also probably go to camp for a week. She went to Mermaid camp last year and Frozen (based on the movie) camp the year before. Jase skipped camp last year but the previous year he went to Lego camp. He hasn’t decided if he wants to try camp this year.

Already the summer is looking busy, and it is still a little over four months away. There is plenty of time to keep planning.