So we just got back from a few days in the Poconos and it made me realize we are probably getting a late start already on planning summer trips!! Yikes! (Doesn't it seem like every trip with kids needs several months' worth of advance notice?)
I've written down some of my thoughts below, but I would also love to hear what some of you moms are planning -- or have done in the past (and what's worked for you and what hasn't!).
My kids are only 15 months and almost-3, so I feel like we're a bit limited in exactly WHAT, WHERE and WHEN we can go on vacation, but I do want to plan on something for late summer, especially after my son turns 3 in early August. We had a GREAT time last year going to Amish country and spending the day at Dutch Wonderland, touring Lancaster and surrounding areas, and going to a cute little B&B that also had a petting zoo on property. Might have to do that again for a few days before preschool starts back up in September.
I think we will skip Disney in favor of doing that NEXT year, but what is the youngest YOU ALL have taken your kids to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot? (I'm thinking even if my youngest loves it at 18-months, Mom and Dad may go crazy toting two toddlers around Disney, so hence why I've decided to forego Orlando this year. Next year sounds like a much better plan, right? I know people take infants to Orlando, but for me I can just see how that won't be a fun vacation for us until both kids are a tad bit older, haha!)
And what's the best TIME you all like to travel during the summer? Having grown up in Southern Florida, I'm used to hurricanes. For the 2013 season (which is June until the end of November, officially), there is an estimated 12 named stormed and probably 3 major hurricanes on deck. That doesn't sound fun, especially in planning a vacation away with the kids -- and anywhere from Galveston to Miami to Myrtle Beach to Maine. Luckily, there's 'trip insurance' -- and more and more companies offer it. One site I've found online is www.insuremytrip.com, which is like an aggregate site with 20+ insurance companies where you can compare rates and get tons of information -- it's a great resource! (It's not as expensive or rare to get as you might think; and now that we have a family, trip insurance is something I'll be looking into, for sure.) They have an excellent write-up on 'Is Travel Insurance Worth It,' and especially if your summer plans include a trip abroad with the family, it's something you may want to consider, too. Also, if you're a weather buff (not like you can really plan a family vacation around the potential for storm!), here's the National Hurricane Center site, too; it's something I plan to check about a week or two before we actually depart.
Not this summer, but I would definitely like to go on a kids-themed cruise. The problems that have been on the news lately (like human waste running down the ship's halls because of power problems, cruiseliners running around, and ship-borne illnesses) are enough to make me do a double-take, but I think you have to outweigh the sheer number of fun and great cruises that people have gone one, compared to the few with problems. (Hey, I think you can even get cruise insurance, too!! Another thing to look into...) I have heard from mommy friends who speak very highly of Disney Cruises. If you don't want to have to fly or drive to Florida in order to catch the boat, a number of cruises like Royal Caribbean leave from the Northeast ports (like Boston, and Bayonne), as well. Every cruiseline has lots of activities for the kids! Anyone go on a fun-filled cruise and like to share how the kids loved their experience?
Looking for a stay-cation? There are a ton of sites online about day trips throughout NJ and the tri-state area. A good site is here. There's so much to do within a tank of gas from the Jersey Shore!
So needless to say I need to get cracking on plans. And the husband and I need to sit down and decide where to go, and when. Even if it's a getaway for a few days, a weekend (or, dare I say it -- a week!), I love when our family 'gets out of Dodge' and explores. The faces on my kids is totally worth the (sometime) aggravation of planning a vacation!