Vacation Planning…or Dreaming

It’s around this time every year, when the dark comes upon us so much earlier, that I start to endlessly search the internet looking for incredible vacation destinations to take the kids too. This winter we have a vacation planned for me and the two kids to return to the Beaches Turks and Caicos and I cannot wait to once again walk upon the warm sand and play in the pools and water park with the kids.

Me and the kids enjoying a day in the sun at Beaches

Although we already have our vacation planned, I have researched other vacations that may be fun to attempt alone with my two tiny travel companions. Here’s a few in no particular order that may get you thinking about a warm destination trip yourself.

Beaches Family Resorts

I have previously reviewed the Beaches chain extensively and won’t repeat too much but you can find the original Beaches blog post here. The trip we booked for January 2014 was 65% off in the new Kew West hotel and cost approximately $5000 with flights including all food and alcohol as well as daytime child care and scuba diving. Although the sale is still on, most of the resort is sold out in January and the cost for remaining rooms has risen quite a bit. I will say that the time we have spent at Beaches is some of the best vacation time we have had and we are extremely excited to see the new hotel and water park expansion.

beaches turks and caicos
Some of our friends that we are excited to see again at Beaches

Disney’s Aulani Hawaii

I know I have said in the past that we won’t be returning to Disneyland or Disney World anytime soon and I stick by that decision as I feel there is so much more of the world to explore. The question is–does that preclude us from visiting some of Disney’s vacation properties like Disney’s Aulani Hawaii? One incredible consideration about this property is that much like the Beaches resorts, it has day camps for children as well as in-room childcare which would make travelling solo quite a bit easier. My largest concern about this resort, besides the approximate 10 hour flight, is that much like Beaches the resort looks so incredible that it might be hard to actually see much of Hawaii. The resort has an 8,200 square foot pool, a 2,100 square foot water park with 3 slides and play areas, as well as two tubing rivers on site. It also offers an adult only pool for when you need a getaway from what I would assume are a lot of children. The resort also has an additional pool that serves as a local reef to many fish that can be accessed for the entirety of your stay at an extra cost of $20 per adult and $15 per child. This would be an incredible way to teach your kids to snorkel and get them excited about the ocean.

Sounds to good to be true? Well for most of us it probably is. The nightly rate on a basic room in January 2014 ranges from $370-$400 a night and only includes breakfast for two adults at one designated restaurant. That means that you are still covering two meals a day and all snacks and beverages for the whole family as well as breakfast for your children. All in all a trip for three in January from Toronto will cost you $6,687.60 including flights but without meals or drinks. A sample menu online shows entrees ranging between $35-50 for adults with the kids meal dinner costing $13 a child.

The resort also offers a number of expeditions and resort add-ons that frankly may be hard to pass up. Bring your Visa.

Disney Bahama Cruise

If I was truly being honest, I would only take my kids on a Disney Cruise to Alaska but for comparative pricing I wanted to include Disney’s Bahamian Cruise. Currently, Disney is offering Canadian residents 20% off prevailing rates on most 3 or 4 night Bahamian cruises departing from Port Canaveral Florida from January 10, 2014 to February 28, 2014 on the Disney Magic. According to the the website, the Disney Magic has recently been renovated and includes enhanced kid’s spaces, adult entertainment, luxurious staterooms, many dining options and slides and water play areas on the upper deck. For a family of 3, the cost of a 4 day cruise can be as low as $1000 including dining but not beverages. Add airfare from Toronto and the cost jumps exponentially to $4018.96.

G Adventures

As my kids are getting older, I am truly looking forward to taking some much more adventurous vacations with them. In case you haven’t heard of them, G adventures is a Canadian company that offers safaris and expeditions across the world. A simple key word search of their website using “kids” brings up an incredible list of family friendly trips. You can access the G Adventure search results by clicking here. Most of the trips listed show a minimum age of 5 or 6 and these are trips your children will remember for a long time. A nine day tour of Costa Rica for one adult and two children costs $4147.00 without flights. We aren’t quite at the point of doing a 9 day adventure vacation alone just yet because of Charlie, who is 3, but I am guessing Will, who is now 5,  and I would have the time of our lives. Looking forward to getting passed the 5 year old mark with Charlie and trying some of these out. Borneo or the Galapagos anyone?

Where are you headed with your kids this winter?

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