Best Places and Times to Travel as a Family

Planning a vacation? From when to travel with kids to the best time to explore the US & Europe, plan ahead and travel smarter with tips from

Life would be close to perfect if we could drop everything at a moment's notice and hop a plane to an idyllic getaway. Of course, life rarely works out so easily, as we juggle work, school and family obligations. Typically, we have to plan vacations well in advance, and choose a time to travel that works for both our workplace and our wallets.

While there are those who wait for the perfect time to book their vacation and travel, truth be told, an ideal time might never materialize. Moreover, booking a trip in the heart of summer — the most popular time to travel — involves crowds and peak-season prices. Rather than face these difficulties, an astonishing number of workers leave their vacation days unused. A 2016 Alamo survey found 40 percent of American workers end up forfeiting five or more days per year.

Instead of skipping your hard-earned vacation, plan to travel smarter with these tips.

When and Where to Travel on a Budget

Skip rubbing elbows with the masses during peak season, and instead travel to your dream vacation destination when the fewest tourists visit the locale. Off-seasons vary by destination.

Adventure to Ski Destinations in Spring or Summer

Many popular ski destinations, like Park City, Utah, have a plethora of late spring and summer activities like mountain biking, hiking and fishing for travelers to experience. Park City Mountain Resort’s spring rates can drop up to 30 percent. Summer deals are also available, such as Canyons Golf Stay and Play. The package offers guests discounts on Canyons Village’s 18-hole golf course, Park City Mountain lodging and daily breakfast.

Park City

Summer Relaxation in the Caribbean or South Florida

If you're looking for a beach getaway on a budget, consider heading to South Florida or the Caribbean during the off-season. Late summer to early fall is considered hurricane season, so rates are cheaper. If you travel before October, inclement weather isn’t as frequent, and September especially offers warm weather with a lower risk of big storms. To reduce your chances of hurricane encounters, also consider traveling to parts of the Caribbean that experience them less frequently such as Aruba, Bonaire, Tobago, Trinidad and Barbados. For additional security and peace of mind, protect your trip if you book travel during this time. Consider buying travel insurance to be sure that you’ll be fully compensated for air travel and hotel should you need to change your itinerary due to weather.


Explore Europe in Winter

If a European destination is on your bucket list, you may be able to cross it off without breaking the bank if you travel during winter. Travelers can take advantage of low-cost flights and hotel discounts while exploring some of Europe's famous holiday markets, such as the Christkindlmarkt in Vienna. One thing to be cautious of when planning a winter European getaway is that daylight hours are shorter. It can get dark as early as 5 p.m., and some sites may operate on shorter hours or shut down for the season. While this is especially true in small towns, it is less common in big cities like Paris or London. Just make sure to call ahead and confirm the sights you’d like to see will be open before you book your travel.


When to Vacation With Your Kids

When traveling as a family, it’s often easiest to schedule vacations around your children’s school breaks and national holidays by learning the dates of their breaks in advance, and planning trips at these times. Some parents opt to take children out of school for a few days before or after their scheduled days off. To save yourself additional worry, coordinate your children’s absence with teachers in advance and request assignments ahead of time so they won't get behind in classes.

If you are wary of traveling with your family to destinations that may be overrun by college students on spring break, look at this website to find out when universities have their spring breaks scheduled.

Consider Holiday Travel

For shorter trips, take advantage of national holidays, like Memorial Day and Labor Day, which many children have off school and parents have off work. These long weekends allow you to relax and spend quality time with your family without the stress of missing work and school. Plan ahead, as holidays can be busy. Booking in advance is advised. National holidays are also a great time to take the family on a National Parks adventure, especially in 2016. This year marks the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary, and to celebrate, it is offering free entry days on several federal holidays like Veterans Day.

National Parks

If your children are preschool-aged and won't need to be pulled out of classes, the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are a fantastic time to visit Walt Disney World, in Orlando, Florida. You'll find fewer crowds, shorter lines at amusements and lower prices.

Now that you know when to travel and have a few ideas about where to go, you can pack your bags, kick back and enjoy your vacation.

About the Author

Valerie Conners is a Florida-based travel writer whose expertise includes outdoors and adventure travel, beach vacations, food and drink, and romantic getaways. Her work has been featured by Condé Nast Traveler, BBC Travel, Travel Channel and Frommer's travel guides.