Sue Ryan's Blog
Generally speaking, taking a family vacation can "recharge your battery," give you a new lease on life, and enable you to get back to work with a renewed sense of purpose. That's the ideal scenario when everything falls into place. However, if you're one of those families that are always looking for a new place to explore every year, then your vacation experiences may become more hit or miss.
While a little research can often go a long way, online brochures and articles tend to put a positive spin on what may or may not be an ideal vacation destination. Even customer reviews can give you a false impression of the desirability of a tourism spot. Just because a couple people had an especially good or bad experience in a particular tourist town, does not mean you're going to encounter similar types of service, weather, prices, crowds, or ambiance.
Online reviews, tourism information, and vacation blogs can provide you with helpful insights into the desirability of a vacation spot, but every time you try a new resort, vacation rental, or tourist attraction, you're gambling on whether or not you and your family will like it.
Since time away from work and vacation budgets are usually limited, it makes sense to do everything possible to increase the odds of planning and having a great vacation! Visiting the places you're considering staying at before you make reservations there is one method of choosing a location you'll probably love. Sometimes recommendations from close friends or relatives can provide you with some solid vacation ideas. While anonymous online reviews and blog posts can lead you down the wrong path, recommendations from a trusted friend or family member have much more credibility.
One method of ensuring a higher level of quality control over your accommodations, amenities, and -- to some degree -- your meals is to buy a vacation home. If you can find an affordable cabin, beach house, or ski chalet in a location you like, then you'll always know what you're getting in terms of living space, ambiance, environment, and local attractions. You can prepare a certain percentage of your meals at your vacation home, which can control your food expenses and make going out to dinner more special.
Another advantage of returning to the same vacation spot (and home), year after year, is that you become familiar with the best places and times to enjoy restaurants, golf courses, beaches, ski slopes, hiking trails, nightclubs, or whatever you enjoy doing on vacation. When you find the ideal "home away from home" to spend weekends, vacations from work, and school breaks, you'll always know exactly what you're getting and will have a higher degree of control over your environment and your overall vacation experience. One final advantage of owning a vacation home is that you can defray your mortgage payments and maintenance costs by generating rental income during the times you're not using the house.