If you’re a working parent, you probably get secretly jealous of your kids. They have a week off in October, another week off in the spring for spring break, a long holiday break, and over two months of vacation in the summer. You need time off as well, but what can you do during a nine-day spring break? You certainly don’t have time or money to travel the world, right?
Or do you?
During the spring break of 2019, I decided to challenge that. My 14-year-old son, 16-year-old daughter and I flew around the world from Phoenix, Arizona to Beijing, China. We then traveled to Istanbul, Turkey and made our final stop in Iceland before returning home.
Like many entrepreneurs, I tend to be a workaholic and the best thing about travel is that it makes it impossible to work for long stretches of time. Instead of working while my teens were at home over spring break we were traveling to new and exciting places together which created an unforgettable bonding experience for the three of us.
1. Choose Potential Destinations
For this length of a trip, I suggest choosing three places to visit that are roughly equal distance from one another. We live in Phoenix, Arizona and wanted to travel westward to take advantage of the way the earth turns so we knew our first stop would be in Asia. The three of us voted on where we want to go in Asia, and China won. The other options we discussed were Vietnam, Thailand, or the Philippines.
Once you’re on the Eurasian continent travel is cheaper and you have a lot of options for interesting destinations. If you are trying to travel on a budget, look for countries with a lower cost of living. Brainstorm a list of places you find interesting and some you don’t know much about but may be fun off-the-beaten-track destinations like Estonia or Morocco. Once you have your list of potential destinations, compare the cost of living in your destination to your cost of living at home.
We could have easily kept our trip around $2500 per person but we decided to visit Iceland which is a higher cost of living country. The point is, you can find destinations that are fun and exciting for you and your family that will suit your budget.
2. Plan Your Flights
After you have a list of potential destinations for your world trip, it’s time to start searching for flights. I saved a substantial amount of time by having my assistant research flight options and present the options to me. Research your flight options using a travel site like Kayak, Skyscanner, or Google Flights.
It can really pay off to find out which budget airlines have the best service in each country. You may have never heard of EasyJet but it’s one of the most budget-friendly airlines in Europe. No matter which airline you decide to fly with, make yourself aware of their cancellation or change policies as well as the travel website’s policies. If you’re trying to keep your flight costs to a minimum, the cheapest travel option may include an eight-hour overnight layover or a very early departure time. Keep all of this in mind when looking for flights and try to remain flexible.
3. Find Budget-Friendly Accommodation
Now that you have your flights planned, where are you going to stay? For our trip, we found inexpensive but decent hotels in Beijing and Istanbul. If hotels are expensive in your destinations or if you’d just like more room, look at your options for renting a house or apartment from VRBO or Airbnb.
4. Plan Some Adventures
Once you’ve got your flights and accommodation booked, it’s time to plan what you’ll do when you get there. My assistant really helped out with this by finding a range of adventures, sights, and experiences for us to choose from. This made it so much easier because we had a selection of great options and weren’t paralyzed by choice.
Traveling the way we did was a completely different experience from going to a resort in Cancun where everything is made comfortable for the guests. There were instances where we had to deal with unexpected circumstances and waits which forced us to spend time together and reminded us that it’s not worth stressing out too much over delays. Those delays may be annoying but they also provide for time to just hang out together and it forces everyone to adapt which is important for our kids to be able to do.
We had unusual experiences that made us look at each other with that wide-eyed “Are you seeing this right now?” kind of look like when our Beijing taxi driver drove us to our destination on the shoulder of the highway to avoid heavy traffic. The sights are unforgettable but so are those moments that create memories that only you and your kids share.
Yes, the trip was tiring because we visited so many amazing places and didn’t want to miss a thing but wearing ourselves out during the day really helped us quickly adjust to the local time and sleep well at night. All three of us are excited to plan our next family trip to three entirely new destinations. If you want to fit an amazing bonding experience into your busy schedule, I highly suggest planning a trip like this with your family.