We’re booking a trip to Vietnam for March. I really don’t mind the research that I put in to our trips. We realize that we are not a great fit for the pre-packaged multiple day tours. Our family just doesn’t roll that way. Instead, I’ve figured out what we need to keep in mind to book a trip that will be fun, informative and exciting for our family. Here are some of the things we keep in mind.
- Draft an itinerary. Write down (or put in a spreadsheet) each day you will be on your trip. Start when you arrive at your destination and end when you leave. This is especially important if you are traveling further afield where you cross the date line. Break each day into am/pm. this way you can break up travel, etc and see exactly where you are each night.
- Determine how many city changes you can handle. When you travel somewhere far away, it is HARD to keep yourself from doing it all. 13 days and 10 cities? It can totally be done but you may hate life by the end. This is especially true if you are traveling with children. Dragging them away from the super awesome pool from today for the might be awesome for tomorrow will get old fast.
- Find your traveling style. Are you a 5 star all the way kind of family? Or are you a hostel traveller instead? Both are completely fine and doable. Knowing what is a must and what is a nice to have can save you time. If you MUST have a pool at each hotel…only look at those.
- Cheaper is not always better…but neither is expensive. Reading reviews is IMPORTANT. There are amazing cheap options, amazing mid-range options and amazing expensive options. There are also crappy places in each of those categories. Your first look should see what rooms are available. If you have a family of 5 and their rooms only hold a max of two…even if it is cheap, 3 rooms can get expensive quick. Next look at the amenities. If one more expensive place has loads of amenities that you need and another charges for them, you might be better splurging. Know how much they cost, though. We ran into a cruise where everything was included but it was $300 per person more than one that wasn’t. There is no way I will drink $300 in difference…and neither will Evan.
- Read the reviews but take them with a grain of salt. After you read enough reviews, you will figure out how to tell which ones you will resonate with. If that negative review cites a bunch of things that would REALLY bug you….take it to heart but if you feel yourself rolling your eyes…not so much.
- Free breakfast is almost always worth it. I realize this is a personal preference but it has been true for us. When we are exploring another country and moving a lot, it is easier to have breakfast in the hotel. We can hit the town with a full belly and eyes set for adventure. If we leave NEEDING coffee and food? The hangries set in and we are ready to murder each other before we can decide on a restaurant. I always pick a hotel with free breakfast. Always.
- Double check the travel options between your stops. While planning our Vietnam trip, we realized we had assumed we could only fly to one city and drive but we could actually fly all the way to our destination. You may spend a few more dollars but it may be worth it in time (just make sure to also double check any stops the flights may have).
- Have fun! In the end, travel should be fun. There is no right or wrong way to do it. If you don’t want to go to the “must see”, don’t. It is YOUR trip. Do it YOUR way.
- Chances are…you won’t need a car. Living in North America, we’re used to renting a car when we travel. If you are staying in North America….it might be a good bet that you need one. If you are going anywhere else? It’s probably a good bet that you will NOT need one. Different driving rules (or lack of rules) means that well meaning tourists in rental cars often get into a jam. Public transportation and private transport/taxis are often very reasonable and much safer than setting out on your own.
Want to read about some of our adventures? Here are a few posts to start with!