The two biggest obstacles for a Bucket List Family Vacation are finances and timing. All too often people don’t even let themselves consider an out of the ordinary vacation because they think it costs too much or they are afraid they won’t be able to get time off work to go. Both of these are valid concerns which can be addressed with prior planning.

It’s important when planning any trip to consider first and foremost the value or “bang for your buck”. One of the best ways to budget for a once in a lifetime vacation therefore is to take a good look at your current vacation spending. Most people grossly underestimate what they are spending on their regular trip to the beach or yearly Disney trip. In fact the cost of a Disney World family vacation for four is often comparable in cost to a good deal on a European trip. Now I love Disney and I think every family should plan at least one Disney trip with their kids, but if you are doing Disney every year or even every other year there is no reason you can’t skip a year or two and go on that dream vacation.

Spacing is another great way to increase your vacation budget without too much sacrifice. If you usually take an annual family vacation just extending the time between trips by 6 months can dramatically increase your budget. Squeeze in a few weekend trips to drivable locations during the interim period and you will actually get more family vacation time.

Another way to increase the value you are getting for your vacation dollars is to look at the actual way you travel. For the budget conscious traveler you simply cannot beat a good cruise deal. Since they include your food and transportation between ports you can see so much more of the world for much less than a land based trip. For families they often offer reduced or even free fares for third and fourth passengers. Kids clubs and family activities mean that your kids will have plenty to do on sea days and you will also have some alone time with your spouse. There are cruise ships at every level of luxury sailing to ports in every corner of the globe.

Timing is another way to increase value in your vacation. Consider the ages of your kids and plan accordingly. I took my daughter to visit my son in London just weeks before her tenth birthday because her airfare was seriously discounted. Few people realize that many foreign airlines offer discounts for children. Children’s discounts on museums, tours and meals can add up quickly. Many people want to wait on their bucket list trip because they think their kids are too young, but just by waiting it can dramatically increase the cost of the trip. I speak from experience too when I tell you travel is always beneficial for children—no matter their age. New experiences in sound, sight, taste and smell will feed the imagination of even the youngest travelers.

Consider too going in the off season. School vacations are prime time for travel and the industry often increases prices. I realize missing school is not an option for many kids, but sit down with your child’s teacher and principal and talk it over. Maybe plan on taking your dream trip to Rome the year your child is studying ancient history or perhaps go to Iceland the year they have earth science. Travel gives children context for what they are learning in school and it helps the curriculum come alive. Many schools are more amenable to letting children travel if they see how the experience will enhance the curriculum. Christopher Travel LLC can help with this as we are committed to making all travel educational for kids and we offer reading lists and activities to ensure your kids are learning even more than they are missing in school.