Travel Planning Tip for Families with School Aged Kids

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If nothing else, I like this site to serve as the calendar pop-up reminder that you never had to program when it comes to travel and miles and points related actions. I know some of you don’t need those sort of reminders that you can now book flight awards through Thanksgiving or hotels through spring break, but for others life can get busy and it is easy to miss something like that. Along those lines, here is a reminder that will hopefully get your travel for the rest of 2017 and into 2018 headed in the right direction.


This week I sat down and outlined all of our planned 2017 family travel, and even started on 2018. I booked what I could, and am actively working on plugging in the few holes in the schedule that remain for this year. Last minute deals and award availability can be stellar, but much less so when you are date constricted and booking for an entire family. Advanced planning is often the key to maximizing miles and points for a family, and I find myself the most frustrated with miles and points when I don’t start planning my trips as far in advance as possible.

Look at Your Child’s 2017 – 2018 School Calendar

Along those lines, now is a great time to see if your child’s school calendar for the 2017 – 2018 year has been finalized, or at least get a feeling for when it will be released and what the draft versions may look like. Ours was just released this week, and it dramatically changes some dates from the current school year. They are starting close to two weeks earlier in August, winter break goes a week longer into January, they are ending the school year earlier, and we have a new long weekend in October. Assuming next school year will look like this year would have been a huge mistake. Thankfully the changes don’t impact anything we already had booked or even penciled in, but now I know for sure when our oldest is in school all the way until June 2018 and can plan accordingly…and hopefully get a jump on others who may not be thinking that far in advance quite yet.

In fact, I already have hotels booked on points for winter break 2017 – 2018 and spring break 2018, and I am just now waiting for the airline booking windows to go out that far. Fingers crossed something reasonable aligns with when/where we have hotels already secured on points!

After scrambling (and failing) this year to try and recreate a spring break trip close-in to the dates, I do not want to find myself in that situation again next year. I am not booking any more totally far flung family adventures until my youngest is older, but instead am focusing on quality destinations that are not too terribly difficult to reach for this phase of life. I’ve made the mistake of biting off more than we want to chew by booking trips too complicated or far away one too many times to (hopefully) ever make that mistake again!

C Cancun

Pencil in 2017 and 2018 Travel Plans Now

If you have time in the coming days, and you haven’t already done so, please do yourself a favor and get out a pencil and paper and map out your 2017 travel plans. See what you have booked, count your vacation days, look at the school calendar for long weekends, finish up booking what you can, and figure out when and where you want to travel this year. But, don’t stop there.

If you have school aged kids, look at that school calendar for the 2017 – 2018 year as well and keep the pencil and paper planning going into 2018. You don’t necessarily have to actually book those 2018 trips right now, but it doesn’t hurt to have your plans penciled in somewhere so you can focus on the trips you really want to take and give those the priority.

Prioritize the trips you want the most and lock those in

Prioritize the trips you want the most and lock those in

Has anyone else been going full-on planning mode on 2017 and 2018 with the school calendars starting to come out for next year?

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  1. What does your travel plans look like specifically during this time? I understand the difficulties in scheduling I have 3 kids (5,4,2)

  2. Already have the basics of a family trip for six to Hong Kong, Australia, and possibly New Zealand booked including hotels and business class seats. Just waiting on the last return flight leg.

  3. Already have the basics of a holiday 2017 family trip for six to Hong Kong, Australia, and possibly New Zealand booked including hotels and business class seats. Just waiting on the last return flight leg.

    • Cc, I think four is a great age to travel actually, and I don’t regret any trips I made with my four year old. With our first daughter we didn’t travel at all until she was about one year old and didn’t really start traveling extensively with her until she was 2.5 – 3 years old. The timetable was a little different with the second daughter, but even then she only did one flight longer than a 3-4 hour nonstop in her first year, and looks like will only have one outside that parameter in her second year.

  4. The school calendar thing is key – but it can always change! Last year the school board voted to move the dates of spring break months after the calendar was released as “final.” I had already booked 5 tickets using Delta miles to South Africa for spring break! I sent Delta a copy of the school district’s website explaining the change, which clearly showed my tickets were booked before, and explained how we could no longer travel on the booked tickets, and they redeposited my miles with no charge! I was able to find other flights that worked on S. African Airways and we had a fabulous trip.

  5. Funny you should post this today. I noticed yesterday our school calendar had been released, which started a snowball effect of travel planning, resulting in me staying up half the night working through all the options! Sometimes this travel planning hobby is just too much 😉

  6. I have started looking for Caribbean options for next Christmas break. My 7th grader was off until Jan 10th & we were stuck inside for a lot of it. Never again! His school calendar was just released, too. Love the planning part!

    • For sure! I am quite interested in a cruise in the next couple years…when the Disney cruises leave from Galveston at least!

      • It’s so nice you have that option from Houston! Our extended family all love cruises but we have yet to try one. Have a wonderful time in Maui!

  7. I booked a cruise (actually 2) for spring break 2018 one year ago yesterday. I booked the pre-sale for MSC Seaside, which didn’t exist at the time and still is being built at the moment. Not knowing what week SB would be, I booked 2 consecutive weeks and figured I’d have at least 90% chance of being right. When the calendar came out last month found, I was right.

    MSC has a $250 deposit on each cruise with no cancellation fee, so I’ll have to cancel the ‘wrong’ cruise and move the money to the other cruise… however, given Lynn’s experience I may just wait a couple more months. Our ISD seems a bit lacking in organization and communication skills.

    I booked primarily booked early to get one of the special cabins. In this case, it’s all the way forward and has the front curve of the ship as one wall. It should be about double the size of the other cabins in it’s class. Those become well known in the cruise community and get booked early. However, we also got a free drinks package which would would never pay for, but we’ll enjoy the gelato, coffee, and the occasional alcoholic drink.

  8. School calendars are critical – our district just implemented a similar calendar for this year and I view this as a big plus. It will be easier to find award (or discounted tix) for the first week in January as most schools are back in session. Ditto for the first two weeks in June. The only downside is that Spring Break continues to fall in April, which is idiotic for skiers. But you can’t have everything.
    Honestly though the school calendar is less of a factor than simply finding award inventory for peak dates to popular destinations, which will always be a challenge.

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