As they say, you want what you can’t have. I’ve been longing for more family vacations now that it’s summer. It has really hit me that this year is going to be different when it comes to travel. I have vowed to, never again, take for granted, planning, booking, and packing for our family vacations.
Summer has a way of making me reflect on warm memories. A few years ago I won Domino’s best new blog (I am still humbled and grateful for this award). With the award came a flyaway trip to Miami for our family.
This trip was extra special for us as we don’t get to travel as much as we’d like to. We are home visting my family in Seattle but sometimes that feels like going home versus taking a vacation. Don’t get me wrong, any trip anywhere at this moment is golden!
I have heard from many of you that you are also longing for a way to get away from home this summer. I wanted to share what we had done on our trip in Miami and Key West as inspiration for your summer trips. The formula for this trip felt so perfect that I can’t wait to share. You can apply this approach to any location of your choosing.
Planning The Perfect Getaway
If your area is open for travel, here are a few steps to get started on planning the perfect getaway.
1. Select a location: Right now many places are closed, for good reason, but if your area is safe to travel, I recommend finding something within driving distance.
When selecting a location, first identify your why for the trip. Want to relax? A beach, lake, or camping trip might be the perfect fit, depending on where you live. Looking for culture, museums, etc? A historic city or town might be best for you.
We were in love with Miami and Key West because we were craving something warm and beachy but also wanted some culture. It felt like the perfect way to get it all! The sunshine and crystal blue waters were just magic!
2. Identify where to stay: Between hotels, Airbnbs, VRBOs, condos, RVing it, and more, you virtually have infinite options when it comes to accommodations. Check your local status before you go anywhere but if it’s safe, pick accommodations that best suit your why, your group, your budget, and your objectives for the trip.
Image Credit: Royal Palm Tribute Hotel
Be honest with yourself. If you’re going on vacation to get away from cooking and cleaning, maybe a condo or Airbnb isn’t the best fit for you. If you want to relax and let someone pamper you a little, I recommend looking into a hotel where you can kick your feet up a bit! There is no shame in any other so just be honest with what you need to recharge!
We stayed at the Royal Palm hotel in Miami. For me, it’s more relaxing when staying at a hotel and fortunately, we had access to one with a beautiful beach nearby. The hotel, part of the Tribute Portfolio Hotels, was part of my winnings and I was so grateful for it! It was a beautiful spot in South Beach and it was perfect for our family.
3. Plan for your desired duration: There is no rulebook for how long to go on a vacation but in my opinion, you need at least 4 days.
Think of it this way, if the day you get there is a travel day, and the day you leave is a travel day, those days are not going to be very relaxing. I suggest you build your trip to at least 4 days which will allow for no less than 2 days to have fun, recharge and decompress before you need to go back to reality.
Make sure you don’t overextend yourself either. Believe it or not, there is such a thing as a vacation that’s too long. Before you decide on the perfect number of days for your trip, gauge the group you’re going with and layer in your budget, the activities you’ll be doing, and how long your travel is to get to/from your destination.
Answering these questions will better guide your “how long do I stay questions”. If you are driving 6+ hours each way, you might need more than 2 days to recharge before hauling home.
4. Book things to do: We love a good activity and also have a wide range of things we consider fun! With that in mind, we planned out a variety of things to do, but nonetheless, we planned them out.
Try not to leave the activities (or lack thereof) as a big question mark until you arrive. Have a plan so that you can ensure everyone is happy and that you aren’t stressing while on vacation.
With Miami having such a great art deco district, we did a scenic drive around the city to check out the art deco hotels. It was so fun!
We also took a drive down to Key West. The drive was gorgeous which made it really fun and sparked great family conversation in the car. While in Key West, we went to feed these huge fish called Tarpon at a local marina.
Image Credit: Conde Nast
You don’t have to plan crazy expensive or wildly extravagant activities or excursions in order to have a good vacation. Make sure you know what the goals of your group/family/yourself are and plan accordingly. We were looking for something more relaxing so our drives and little excursions were perfect!
Visiting Earnest Hemingway’s home in Key West was educational and fun!
Fitting in a snorkeling excursion and watching the dolphins swim with us was the perf way to celebrate my birthday!
5. Know where and what types of food you want to eat: Although it is generally really easy to find food, be aware of where you’re going. It doesn’t take much time to Google and Yelp an area to see if they are well known for specific types of foods or if certain restaurants are famous for anything. I highly recommend doing this so that you can plan accordingly and get a reservation if needed.
If you’re going with a group, take a moment to evaluate any dietary restrictions and apply that to your planning. There is nothing worse than getting home from a trip and someone asking if you tried that XYZ world-famous restaurant or dish from a restaurant in that city and you hadn’t even known about it! Don’t be that person.
We are foodies so we did this research and were so thankful because the meals we had were stellar! The Cuban food in Miami was drool-worthy! DJ Clam Shack and Blue Heaven’s key lime pie in Key West still make their way into my dreams!
Overall, what an incredible trip this was! I am so thankful that we have the memories from this trip and am even more thankful we took the time to plan so we didn’t miss anything!
From snorkeling to sightseeing, to road trips, and restaurants, we went home feeling like we had really, truly, seen and done Miami and Key West.
When you’re planning your next trip, first, take a moment to identify your relational why and then with that answer, take to the rest of your planning! Please share where you go and how your planning went. Can’t wait to hear it!