The most expensive time to travel is when children are out of school; summer, spring break, Christmas break. But it doesn’t have to be that way. “You can counteract that by planning early. Normally nine months out is when you should start planning. You can book hotels a year in advance and cruises as far as 18 months in advance. The earlier you book, the better the discount is,” Lori Wentworth, manager for Travel Leaders in Great Mills, said.
You can also find other discounts based on certain hotels or resorts promotions. Wentworth explained, “there are some hotels that offer discounts for children, like kids 12 and under eat free. Some all-inclusive resorts will allow children to stay for free, they just need to pay for airfare and resort taxes.”
Wentworth said it’s important to identify what you’re looking for in a trip before you start planning and researching. What are your likes or dislikes? What are you hoping to experience from the trip? It’s easier to narrow down the selection by pinpointing what you’re looking for in a vacation.
Trip Advisor is a great resource when you’re looking for reviews on hotels. However, Wentworth reminds travelers it’s not regulated. “When it comes to reviews, it’s 50/50 because hotels are now paying people to write both good and bad reviews on Trip Advisor. Read the terrible reviews because many times it’s someone who expected a 5-star hotel but they paid for a 3-star.” Wentworth said people get drawn in by great deals online. It might sound great but the hotel might not meet your expectations, despite the great price. “How much does a bad vacation have to cost for it to be a bad vacation?” Wentworth said that’s where travel agents help you weed out those concerns.
She highly recommends going to a reputable travel agent. “We get to go on these trips. We’ve seen these resorts in person. We literally go basement to attic and we look at everything. So when someone says they’re all ultra-exclusive, luxury, 5-star resort and I go there and there’s paint chipping or they don’t have a kids program, you’re not going to know that as a normal consumer. But as an agent, I have 27 years of firsthand knowledge.” Wentworth said.
A vacation to the Caribbean at an all-inclusive resort might sound like an expensive, extravagant vacation but you’d be surprised. Wentworth explained, “You’re going to spend $3,000-$4,000 on a family of four to go to Ocean City, MD for seven days in the summertime, or you’ll spend just as much to go to the Caribbean, and you’re going to get more. There are amenities that are included.”
Many resorts will focus on children ages 4-12 and they’ll have kids’ camps set up and some even offer babysitting services. There are many hotels who hire true nannies who have been trained, have gone to school and they know first aid and CPR.