Family Vacation Dilemma, What Would You Do?

Updated on May 07, 2014
J.B. asks from Boston, MA
40 answers

Sorry this got longer than I intended.

My husband and I have 4 kids - 2 are 16, one is 10, the other is 8. The last time we did a fly-away vacation was 9 years ago, when the youngest wasn't even born and my 10 year old was an infant. We have been talking about going back to Florida and taking the kids to Disney (the youngest haven't been yet) for years but something always comes up that needs to be paid for. We do small vacations to Maine or Cape Cod every other summer but I really, really want to do one more big "get on a plane and go somewhere" family vacation before the two oldest graduate.

I've saved up $8000 for the trip, mostly by working my second job. I've missed a lot of evenings and Saturdays with my kids to be able to give us all this trip. This should be enough for RT airfare for 6 to Florida, a few days in Orlando at the parks (one day Magic Kingdom, another day at Universal for the older kids, etc.), and a few days at my in-law's condo in Fort Meyers beach with day exursions, boat and jet-ski rentals, etc.

Well naturally, the bills keep coming in as they always do and there are some big expenses (wisdom teeth, braces) that we have to budget for. I can always tutor over the summer to build up our emergency cushion (which is separate from the vacation fund anyway) and we always find a way to pay the bills. My husband - who normally has a spending problem and isn't the breadwinner - is getting grumpy about spending the money this year and thinks we'll need it for other things and should just forget about it. But he's grumpy about a lot of things.

The other issue is timing. For various reasons, February, April and December vacations were not options this year. That leaves going over the summer, pulling the kids out of school in the fall (a huge no-no Junior year), or going over Thanksgiving, which is much more expensive. Summer in Florida kind of defeats the purpose of a warm-weather get away, but honestly we just can't go in the winter with older kids and their commitments and my job, which has very demanding seasonal cycles. It does seem a little nuts to spend $8000 to go sweat for a week when we can spend a fraction of that and rent a lake house for a week.

So...would you go to Florida in July or August? Go somewhere else in July/August (and where)? Or go to Florida a different time of year, even if it meant missing school and important sports tournaments? Or not go at all? The other thing is passports...only one of us has one so if we were to go somewhere outside of the country such as the Bahamas, that would add more than $600 to the cost of the trip so we're not really considering places outside of the US.

I think that we're both sort of stuck on this idea of going to Disney and to my in-law's condo so we really haven't opened our minds to what else we can do with our budget and timing. Part of me is thinking that there's a whole big country out there to explore so why not consider something else and maybe save up and do a short Disney trip some long weekend next year or the year after with the little kids?

So what would you do if you were in my shoes? Thanks for your ideas!

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answers from Boston on

We've done Disney in July with an almost 6 year old...It's hot but it rains briefly almost every almost feels good....we managed to stay on Disney proper that year (we drove instead) and so we were able to go back to the hotel at around lunch for a quick dip i the pool too on occasion...Would I do it again? Yeah!!! Have a great time!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

We went to Disney World in early April. Even then I thought the lines and crowds were obnoxious. Even with the Fast Pass options there were rides that we couldn't get on. Now that people can book Fast Pass at home, it isn't as easy to get the rides you want without a lot of advanced planning. To be honest, I have no desire to ever go back. It just was not my idea of a fun time.

Look at going to San Diego. We have been twice and my kids want to go again. We were there for the 4th of July a couple of years ago and the weather was great. Warm enough for the beach, but not too hot to do other things. Like someone else mentioned, there is a lot to do in San Diego that is the same or similar to what you can find in Orlando. If you really want the Disney experience, Disneyland is not far from there. We have not gone to Disneyland, but one of my friends has said they prefer it to DW. We also love the beaches on Coronodo Island near SD.

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answers from Appleton on

I would go to Disney in California instead of Florida. California has Universal Studios and Knott's Berry Farm and the Queen Mary, beautiful beaches and lots to do. You could stay on the Queen Mary so you are between Los Angeles and Orange County.
California does get hot in summer but not like Florida.

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answers from Toledo on

I don't want to reiterate what others have said, so I'll throw this out there - talk about what the ultimate goal of your vacation really is, because I've been to Disney in July and felt like I needed a vacation when I got back! :)

It sounds like you've spent some significant time away from your kids. Might be worth exploring a more laid back vacation where you can spend some quality time together not fighting crowds, heat and exhaustion.

However, I would look seriously into the Disney cruise idea. It's not cheap, but you've got quite the nest egg saved and everyone I know who has taken one has raved about it!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

How about a family ranch vacation in the Colorado Rockies? It's spectacular there in the summer (well, winter, too) and it's something your kids would probably love and never forget for the rest of their lives. You could get out of the humid Northeast for a while, you'd get your plane ride and see some natural geographical things we just don't get on the East coast. Stop in Denver for a night or two on the way there or back.

You could not pay me enough to go to Florida in July or August.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

A Disney cruise might be a nice option for the family and be different. We took the kids (then the sks were teens and DD was a toddler) on a cruise and I think I'd do it again if it catered to kids and would have fun things for them. I wouldn't veto FL in July if that's the time and place that works for you. We did PR in April because that's when DD's spring break was. I would try not to take the kids out of school.

Sit down with DH and ask him what exactly bothers him? The dollar figure? That you earned it? A family of six doesn't travel light (we've done 7 - the sks, a friend each, DH, DD and I) and sometimes you want to do more than be at the lake. It sounds like you have a good plan.

I agree that passports are $$. I would, however, encourage the kids to get passports at least once they hit adulthood, as they are good for 10 years. Only 5 yrs for kids.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Abilene on

We had annual passes to Disney for several years. I love to go to Disney. July and August are hot, crowded months. It all depends on your expectations. I second the suggestion of the water parks. They are a blast and are both very different. Last year we went the last week of June and we did a park on Sunday and Monday then a water park and did two more parks and ended with the other water park.

Please know that Christmas at Disney is the MOST crowded time to go. We did that once and never again. It was wall to wall and you couldn't walk through the park. Thanksgiving is the second busiest holiday. Best time to go is February. If your kids have a school holiday in February you might be able to plan around it so they wouldn't miss a lot of school. If the teachers know in advance maybe they could even work ahead.

You worked hard to provide this trip. I would take it. No matter what you decide to do, enjoy your time and your family. Cherish the time you have.


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answers from Washington DC on


What a great job saving money!! YOU GO GIRL!! If that is your vacation fund, then use it for a vacation...

I would NOT go to Florida in July or and humid...

Come to DC - and you can save $4K....the museums are great...yes, it's hot and humid - but you aren't standing in line waiting for a ride...the museums are air conditioned...

If you are determined...I would do Bermuda....I know you aren't looking outside the US....or DisneyLAND not World. While I HEAR and UNDERSTAND you are NOT looking for outside the US - Mexico would be fun - yes - hot - the beaches are great - and there are adventures to be had - zip lining and much more!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Good job budgeting and saving!

I say yes to big family vacation!

We did Disney 2 years ago. Went at the End of July/first week of August. They have misters and fans in lines. Fast pass works great and we were able to use it for the rides we wanted. It all worked out just fine and we survived. I did get the kids personnel misting fans each and they loved them ($5 ea).

Read the unofficial Disney guide as someone suggested there is a lot of good tips for surviving crowds and heat.

We went to Hilton Head the following year........our kids told us they liked HH better then Disney, LOL!

Best of luck to you in planning!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I'm a native Floridian and I don't like to be here in July/August! It may not be bad at the beach, but Orlando would be sweltering, steamy, and miserable! Could you do a long weekend in October? October is my favorite time in Florida-not too hot or humid! Maybe you could take off on a Thursday evening, miss school Friday, have Friday and Saturday at the parks, do a little something Sunday morning, and be home Sunday night? It wouldn't be a long trip, but cheaper and the kids could experience the parks. You may even have money left after you price it out to do a smaller vacation this summer.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Iowa City on

I would scap the Disney trip and go somewhere else but then I am not a Disney fan. I would do a low key, relaxing beach vacation (go to the west coast if you always do east coast). Or DC (love the Smithsonian). Maybe the badlands or Yellowstone or Yosemite. Williamsburg, the Ozarks. There are so many interesting places that, for me, would make for a better vacation than a theme park.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

What about Southern California in July? It usually isn't nearly as hot here in July as it is in August and September, and it's never humid the way Florida is. We don't have bugs here either. You could do:
California Adventure
Sea World
San Diego Zoo
San Diego Wild Animal Park
Universal Studios
Magic Mountain
Water Parks (Knott's Soak City, plus I think Magic Mountain has one also)
Plus, you could go to the beach, museums, Hollywood hot spots, Venice beach, etc. You could even take a boat across to Catalina Island. Granted, there is more distance between all of the attractions than in Florida, but you could spend 2-3 days near Disneyland and then another 3-4 in either LA or San Diego.

We are having a major heat wave now (it's 102 degrees today and has been 95+ all week) so you never know what the weather will be like in July. But, it's much better than Florida in the summer and it's cooler the earlier in the summer you come. Another option would be later in August. It might be hotter, but it will probably be less crowded since a lot of local schools start in mid-August now. Crowds are really only a factor at Disneyland anyway (and maybe Universal, but I don't think so). The San Diego attractions are never that bad because they aren't the type of places you wait in line for.

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answers from Washington DC on

I don't like the idea of Florida in the summer. Last year when it was 19 in MD and we flew into Miami at 81, I was in HEAVEN!! But 100 and humid? I'll stay home for that. With that said, a vacation sounds much needed.

If that money is FOR vacation, use it for that. Disney is fabulous - going as a teen was one of my favorite times to go with my family. We have friends that go over Columbus Day often...then the kids miss less school and the weather is GREAT.

You can save a LOT of money by driving too. I see you're in Boston, which is where I lived when my family os 7 drove. It was 2 days on the road each way, but my parents always made it fun.

Or look at cruise options...they go out of NYC, New Jersey, Baltimore, don't have to go to Florida to get on a ship. That was by far our best vacation ever.

But would I take a vacation? HECK YES!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

J.B - my very first point is to congratulate you for saving so diligently for a family vacation!

I truly believe that your instincts are correct to get in one more big family trip before the oldest two graduate.

We have taken a few great vacations with our sons and in hindsight I realize they are some of the most precious memories that I have of our family. Even when things were crazy and chaotic, we look back on those moments and laugh. There's just something about having an adventure together that bonds your family. I hope your husband will go out on a limb and trust you on this.

I live about 3.5 hours south of WDW and have rarely been there in the summer (way too hot). That being said, if you carefully follow the plans from "The Unofficial Guide to WDW" then you can pull it off. Also, the parks are staffed up in the summer so if you get there early you can still see a lot of stuff. Also I highly recommend Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. If you go there prepared you should be fine. Just layer in some down time. Also, I'd plan a day off when you return because you will need a vacation from that vacation.

My other suggestion is southern California. Fly into John Wayne and rent a big van. Stop in Palm Desert for a night and visit the top of San Jacinto (amazing). Go into Anaheim a couple of days for Disneyland (make sure you follow a plan as I mentioned above because it will be crazy there too). Drive down to La Jolla and San Diego and visit the San Diego zoo. We did this plan about 6-7 years ago (minus Disneyland - went to Knotts Berry farms which we didn't like) and had a blast. We also went to LEGOLAND which was amazing (but your kids may be too old for that).

It will still be hot in southern CA but nothing like central FL.

Get that trip in if you can. I think you will be glad looking back (at least I hope so).

Good luck with your plans!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

I live in Orlando, born and raised here and don't mind the heat. I don't mind going to Disney in the summer, that is when family usually visits and we go. Love staying on property, can go back and swim/nap middle of the day and go back to a park for dinner and fireworks. The Magic Kingdom is open until 11 pm during the summer.
It will be hot and crowded, just pack water and patience!
Or how about a Disney cruise? Best of both worlds. You can do the beach condo and then take a 3 or 4 day cruise. Or Key West? If you like to fish, swim and snorkel, it is beautiful there.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

Wow... I read all of that. Man you're making this WAY more complicated than necessary. You're overthinking it, plain and simple.

Do you really think your children would rather go to Disney than spend time with you? I went to MGM as a kid. I do not remember it much at all! But I would sure remember my mom never being around just to pay for the trip.

Do something simple. Yes it can be over the summer. And yes you can pull them out of school to do it another time of the year if you wish. Family comes first.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I believe some things, like a big family vacation someplace special, are worth missing school for. You have a good amount saved, so I'd wait until next February when weather is better, crowds are less, and prices are lower (usually the first week in February) and go to Disney then. It really will be that one last big family vacation that you'll all remember, like you're looking for. In the meantime, you can cut back a bit on the second job so you can see your kids more. You can also start planning so you can get the best deals possible and so everyone has something to really look forward to, plus you'll be able to give plenty of notice to jobs, sports, etc.

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answers from Raleigh on

If you get there in May or early June, it's usually great weather. My husband and I went for our honeymoon the third week in May, and it was perfect. June is usually the off-season there, so lodging will be cheaper. Then again, I've never been one to be afraid of a little heat/humidity though. :)
I would steer clear of planning anything late Jun/July-Oct. This is the height of hurricane season, and you just never know what might be coming your way. Rarely do we southerners see hurricanes in early June. It's not unheard of, but not likely.

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answers from Chicago on

Although I enjoyed Disneyworld, my favorite vacation was to Gatlinburg, TN. There is zoo much to do for all your kids; white water rafting, biltmore estates, hiking, smoky mountains, horse back riding, etc

Whatever you pick, it will be great. I hope you go on a vacation.

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answers from New York on

If I were in your shoes...LOOK OUT MICKEY HERE WE COME!!!!

Your children are the perfect ages for Orlando even if you decided you didn't want to do Disney. Your youngest isn't so young that he will tire quickly or throw a toddler tantrum from being over exhausted and over stimulated. Lol.

Understand this one truth. It is very hot in Florida in both July and August however most lines at Disney are mostly inside air conditioned building or under covered canopies with mists of water to enjoy. With the heat is also the inevitable thunderstorm then it dries up like nothing ever happened and barely provides relief but I love it.

If you could go to Disney for Christmas that would be beautiful. I hear it's amazing.

I've been to Orlando several times and it's always a great place to go. So go and make many memories and have so much fun. We will be making our family trip there next year for our youngest's graduation present from highschool. Can't wait.

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answers from Minneapolis on

How about a cruise that has activities for the kids.

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answers from Boston on

From what I know, Disney in the summer is sweltering and the lines are so very long, just when everyone is traveling because it's cheaper. We've done Disney a few times, and while it's terribly overpriced, it's a unique experience. I do think you have to be reasonable - there is no way that one day at Disney World will even begin to satisfy the kids' feelings that at least they have been there! See if you can squeeze out another day or two, and put the kids on a budget (I think you're good with that stuff!), limiting them to a fixed dollar amount for souvenirs and also making them earn some of their spending money (from sources other than you). Even an 8 year old can walk a neighbor's dog or save his money from Grandma or forego a big birthday party to bank the money.

You can keep your costs down by getting an apartment vs. a hotel, and making your own breakfasts and taking your own lunches and snacks - Disney definitely permits outside food, and there are plenty of places to eat your own fixings. Everyone can pitch in on dinners and making breakfast, washing dishes, etc. so it's not all on Mom! You can splurge on a nice dinner at one of the parks at whatever theme area interests you. Taking the family to the inlaws' is great too and saves a lot of money.

I feel there is value in family time before those teens move on to college or jobs and have a totally different schedule. I know that pulling kids out of school is a huge problem in many districts. But we always did it. If you do 2 days instead of a week, it's no more of a problem than when they're out sick. And yes, they might miss something, but if you're trying to create memories, it's okay for them to learn that life is about choices and a few sacrifices. Surely you can avoid things that would get them bounced off a team and maybe miss something less critical. Try to figure out what will matter the most in 5 years - photos of together time, or a major sports opportunity. Only you can answer that.

But I live in Massachusetts like you, and I'd suggest the April vacation next year for the big trip. No one else has the same week off 90% of the time (check for Easter's timing) because of Patriot's Day which is only observed in Mass. and RI. Take the kids out on just the Friday before the vacation - no big deal. Florida will be warm and lovely, but not a humidity house. The lines at the park will be much more manageable. My neighbors went in July and after a few days, the little kids were completely fried. Be willing to split into 2 groups to take the younger kids on some rides that don't interest the big kids, and vice versa, then meet up afterwards. That often makes things pretty appealing to the older kids who want some independence now and then and may want to go on things that are too scary or have too high a height requirement for the 8 year old. Sometimes the 8 year olds just want to hang in the pool and the 16s are go-go-go!

It sounds like you are very organized with the finances - you save from one job, you can tutor, you separate your emergency fund from other funds, and you have looked into budget plans for braces and so on.

Also look into places where you don't need a real passport. For example, you need good ID but the kids don't need passports for many countries (check with the state department for specifics), and places like the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are US territories. Puerto Rico, for example, is really fun because it has so much variety - el Yunque rain forest, Phosphorescent Bay, historical areas of Old San Juan (forts and old cannons and Spanish colonial history), and more. That might be even more fun than Disney - something for everyone.

Your husband's issues with money have nothing to do with the trip - it sounds like he's feeling badly that he's not the breadwinner.

So maybe it makes sense to do something cheaper this summer so you still get away but save the money for the spring "big trip". Instead of Cape Cod, try something less touristy. Or go for a lesser home with the kids in bunks instead of their own rooms. You're on the beach or on the deck half the time anyway. Play more board games or do less stuff with ticket prices. Economize anywhere you can, but keep socking away those small savings into a separate account. Give each kid a "vacation" jar and teach them to put in everything from the bottle return nickels to a few extra bucks they earn by helping out a neighbor. If they go out on those snow days and shovel a neighbor's walk rather than sitting in front of the TV where it's nice and cozy, the cash adds up. Those are good lessons for all kids. If they don't have savings accounts, open some - there are no-fee accounts for kids under 18. Then the oldest 2 can morph into student checking accounts for when they leave home.

And definitely sock some money away where your husband isn't aware of it, and then surprise him with the total! Yes, I know we all have to save, but really, sometimes we miss the joy of the moment by saving for the eventuality.

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answers from Washington DC on

I will always vote for Disney :) We have been in the summer and it was miserably hot and everyone was a bit cranky from the heat. That was before we had kids.

We went this past September and loved every minute of it. We did pull our daughter out of school to take the vacation. She is only in elementary school but still I was concerned about her falling behind or having a ton of work to catch up on. That's why I choose September because they are just returning to school and for the first month they are just reviewing everything they learned last year. I met with her teacher ahead of time and took work with us to do as we could so she would be on track with her class when we returned.

Perhaps that would be an option for you as well. You could contact the teachers once their schedule arrives over the summer. I'm sure they would put a packet together for your kids to do either ahead of time or during the vacation.

Peace and Blessings,

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answers from Erie on

omg...$8000? I could do a lot with four kids on that.
A trip to Washington D.C., it is hot in the summer, but you spend most of your time indoors at the Smithsonian and other places. Your teens could visit a few colleges in the area. There are endless possibilities.
Other ideas include: Finger Lakes, or somewhere in one of the Virginias.
Personally, I would stay up north in the summer. The Great Lakes have all kinds of attractions along all of their borders. A train vacation to somewhere on the east coast.
Pennsylvania has a great state park system. We really like renting cabins in state parks, and there are always things to do but plenty of time to chill, too.
For instance, in Cook's Forest, PA, you can do all of these things within 15/20 minutes of your accommodations: hiking, canoeing, horseback riding, swimming, go carts, and biking. And for that kind of money you can get a really nice cabin for a week or two. That's what I would do, but I hope I've given you some other ideas :)

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answers from Philadelphia on

My daughter will be a junior next year also and can't afford to miss school. We are going to Disney this summer for 9 days. We typically go in May and love it. I know it is not only going to be hot but really crowded too but in our eyes there was no alternative.

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answers from Beaumont on

I agree $8000 is a ton of money for a vacation. At least one that we would take. We save $2100 each year and our family of 4 have had some terrific vacations. My fav was to the Smokey Mtn. area of TN. We white water rafted, went tubing, ate lunch by the creeks and did some serious race car driving at a Malibu Grand Prix. You are in a wonderful area of the country, it wouldn't take anything for you to be a million great places. How about Acadia National Park, they have tide pools!!!

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answers from Phoenix on

We went to Disneyland the week of Veteran's day, starting the Tuesday after the holiday. It was great timing- kids were in school and the holiday rush had not started, but the holiday decor was up and the holiday shows had started so we got to see all of that.
I think there are a lot of great suggestions here, and I think that your vacation plan is amazing. You should prioritize it. I still vividly remember the major trip our family took to DC and Williamsburg every time I am in the DC area, and I was 13 at the time.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I have an 8th grader and a junior in HS so I understand your dilemma and the desire to take one "last" whole family vacation. I would not pull HS kids out of school or miss important tournaments. I have pulled middle and elementary kids out of school for special trips. What about CA Disney in the summer? It's not as hot and there's CA Adventure Park in addition to the Magic Kingdom. There's a Universal Studios not far away. We just returned from there with our 14-year-old and had a great time. Or does that make the airfare too expensive? I would probably go during the summer and go somewhere else. I like warmth, but humidity can be really exhausting if you aren't used to it. I think it might make everyone crabby and make it hard to get to all of the theme parks you want to see. And is that FL's rainy season?

Are your juniors in HS thinking about or hoping to go to college? As you probably know, fall of junior year is a big time for studying for a taking the college entrance exams.

What about the middle of the country? Does anyone have any interest in Yellowstone, Jackson Hole, WY or the Badlands/Black Hills? We had some nice vacations in those places. There's a surprising number of activities available in the Badlands/Black Hills, including hiking, a mammoth dig site, spelunking, hot springs, a reptile addition to the usual sites people associate with the area. In Wyoming we went white water rafting and down an alpine slide.

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answers from Harrisburg on

I LOVE LOVE Disney. And my youngest (14) has been chomping at the bit the past few years to get there again. BUT...I would never go in the summer. Too hot. Too crowded. I also have high schoolers. With honors and AP courses, it's really hard to miss school. Our kids missed a week last year when we went on a college visit/vacation to TX. I wouldn't recommend that either. They had a ton of work to make up and my oldest struggled with his calculus class for a while after we returned.

Here's my thoughts...
1. Do Disney when your kids have a long weekend in the fall...Veteran's Day...Columbus Day...Fall break - whatever. Maybe tack a day or two on one end of the break. You could possibly get nearly a week there and only miss a day or two of school.
2. Outer Banks - LOVE the Outer Banks as well. We stay in Duck. Corolla is also nice. Plenty to do, and renting a house for a week is WAY cheaper than Disney.
3. San Diego. I think a few others mentioned this. We had a blast when we went there a few years ago. Took in the San Diego zoo, Sea World, Hollywood, and visited the Reagan Ranch in Santa Barbara. The beaches at Coronado are great and my son loved the tide pools at LaJolla.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

I don't mind sweating - would rather sweat than freeze any day. I would go for Disney/Universal over the summer when the kids are all out of school.

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answers from Houston on

Been there done that have the t-shirt. Not only No but HELL NO would I go to Disney in July/August. Its not just the heat and humidity, its all the people. Not just Americans but foreign tourists. Brazilians are the worst. I shudder!!! The lines are long and while some are indoors a large majority of them are not. They do have misting stations but lets face it 100 degrees with 10000000% humidity is miserable!!!!

We did a family vacation to Hilton Head Island. It was awesome! Very casual, relaxing and family oriented. Did not do anything but go to the beach, swim, read and spend time as a family. We rented bikes for all of us (4) and didn't use the car for a week. Amazing. Look at time shares.

We also went one year to Myrtle Beach. That was wonderful as well. However, to me it was more geared towards young adults.

California, Oregon, Washington State would be fun as a family as well. Go to Disneyland. Might not be as miserable as Disneyworld but still its summer time and the lines will be very long.

As for those who say they pull their kids out of school for vacation. I do not agree with that especially when those kids are in HS. No way.

First part of June, right after school is out would be a good time.

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answers from Chicago on

I do not think I would go to disney in the summer. Super busy, you do nto get to see what you would like to, it is expensive.

Other thoghts. Cruise, I went to bermuda for my grandparents 50th wedding annivesary. It was awesome.

Camping? Smokey mts, Arizona .. lots of places.

I would do FL for spring break. Not summer.

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answers from Cleveland on

You can cruise to the Bahamas with out passports because the boats dock at American ports! We were going to do that a few years back, but airfare for the 5 of us was costly.

Also, my two cents....
There can always be reasons to NOT go on a vacation. But don't let opportunities to make memories with your kids. You'll find a way to cover the other things right?

Also, have you considered Myrtle Beach? Is that driveable for you? We go almost every year and LOVE it! Affordable, lots of things to do for kids of any age. Its probably my favorite place ever! We get a room w/ a kitchenette and that saves on eating out.



answers from Washington DC on

Consider going north, not south. You can drive to Maine and see the amazing Acadia national park, and do outdoor things without sweltering heat and hideous crowds on every inch of Disney space. Your kids, especially the oldest ones, may get a lot more good memories out of kayaking and walking in the cooler, quiet woods than out of spending their vacation time around zillions of small kids hyped up on a theme park. (Yes, kids as young as 10 and 8 can do things like kayak and canoe and other stuff--outdoor outfitter companies like Eddie Bauer and L.L. Bean have plenty of options for whole families to try new things at beginner levels.)

As you say -- there's a whole big country out there to explore, so why go for the pre-packaged, candy-coated Disney just because it's "what families with kids do"? A lot of people seem to simply assume that if you have children, you go to Disney. Why? Your younger kids can also enjoy the outdoors -- I would worry that Disney would bore the older ones, the ones you most want to spend time and build memories with, out of their skulls, and the vacation would end up being all about what the younger kids want to do....

Get online and do some research about Acadia, the Maine coast, etc. or other spots nearer where you live. You will save a fortune on air fares as well -- and honestly, spending $8,000 on a vacation, with two kids very close to college age, doesn't make sense to me personally.

Sorry if this sounds terribly anti-Disney but why not think outside that box and do something that takes the kids to see someplace new and different and have some experiences that aren't packaged for them, based on TV and movies, and delivered in heat and humidity? You can have a new experience while saving a ton of money as well, and you can go in summer but the weather will be bearable.

I agree, pulling juniors out of school for a vacation is a big no-no here too. I would do Disney with the younger kids for a short trip later, during the school year when it's not has hot and humid, and without the older kids, so the younger ones can really enjoy themselves.

Have you considered letting the older kids plan this trip, or involving them in the choice? They'll be gone from home soon.



answers from Hartford on

Florida in early November is beautiful! Disney isn't as packed at that time of year, and Fort Meyers Beach is warm and NO TRAFFIC (which if you have been there during prime time-it is CRAZY!) which makes it easy to go and off the island.



answers from Boston on

Go! As a former teacher, all our family trips were summer trips. We did Disney in the humidity of July. While I don't do well in heat and humidity, I found Disney well-suited to my needs. Air-conditioned and misted lines. Many ice cream stands. Long hours, so we could go early in the morning, leave by noon (absolutely best advice I can give you), swam in the hotel pools, and came back at 5 or 6. No expectations of fancy clothes - wear loose-fitting, white cotton shirts and capris. Wash, rinse, wear agian. And may I repeat, many ice cream stands!!! I found vacationing in Virginia and D.C. in July much more difficult, because the vacation spots didn't have any relief.



answers from Minneapolis on

I absolutely LOVE Disney! I would go any time. But with MY kids, I would not ever want to go during peak season again. We've done a few spring breaks and early-mid Junes with intense pre-planning, we did what we wanted and had a lot of fun, but we're done with peak season. Too stressful.

You pay A LOT of money at Disney. During peak season you will spend MUCH more time waiting in lines and to see and experience much less than during less busy times of year. If you go during peak, you have to be ON your planning game, it can be stressful.

Plus the summer heat/humidity in Florida is hard on many. Personally, I wouldn't mind it, I love it hot. But everyone's level of enjoyment will be brought down if one of your party is downright miserable. My oldest hates waiting and my youngest hates getting overheated. What is your family's tolerance like?

Definitely agree with others who say try a long weekend or fall school break if you can.

The other thought is end of August can be really rainy, BUT also significantly less crowded than mid summer. The southern states are all back is school at the beginning to mid August. And families in the northern states are usually winding down summer in in full throttle back to school mode in the last couple of weeks in August.

Disney is worth it, but you'll want to have more than one day, for sure. Even if you only visit Magic Kingdom.



answers from New York on

Cruise to US Virgin Islands.



answers from Kansas City on

We pulled our middle and high schoolers out of school in September a few years back, and went to Orlando. It was perfect. It was still pretty hot and humid, but there were no lines at all at Disney. Just have the kids check in with their teachers and try to get some extra work to do before they leave, and when they get back. I think most schools would be understanding. We all can't have the traditional June July or August vacations. You worked hard to save, so go have some fun!



answers from Des Moines on

I have four kids too, and am willing to pull them out of school for a vacation like this. Even junior year. I also hate crowds and heat, and we as a family love disney, so will ONLY go in off season. There is no way I would go in the summer.

My thought, you only have a few years left with your whole family together (before college). If they all want to do Disney and FL, then do it at an off season. Miss school, miss extracurricular activities. I promise the will not remember what they would have done that week at home, but they will remember family time, which trumps everything!!

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