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Top 8 Mistakes Families Make when Planning a Vacation on their Own

Updated: Sep 9, 2023

Today, the internet makes it convenient for families to plan and book their own vacations. While some of your online vacation planning might have gone smoothly in the past, you may be on borrowed time if you continue to make some of the biggest mistakes that we see families make when they do it all on their own.

Do-it-yourself vacation planning families may not even realize they are guilty of making these travel planning mistakes! Here are the top 8 mistakes families make when planning a vacation on their own:

1. Booking through third party suppliers

When you are researching vacation destinations, third party suppliers like Expedia and usually show up near the top of the list. These sites like to lure in travelers with enticing deals and lower rates.

When you book with third party suppliers, you are taking a huge risk if something were to go wrong with your vacation.

Just like airlines, hotels will overbook their rooms and the first reservations to get "bumped" tend to be those made through third party suppliers.

When traveling with children, arriving at a hotel with a reservation, but no available rooms can be extremely stressful. Plus, if you have to make any changes to your reservation, you will have to go through the third party supplier who may not have strong relations with the hotel or even the authority to accommodate you.

2. Infrequent checking of travel requirements and restrictions

If we learned anything over the last few years is that Covid-19 is completely unpredictable. Travel requirements and restrictions are constantly changing and they differ from destination to destination.

If you are not paying close attention, you may be disappointed to find out the entry regulations have changed since you booked your trip.

This could result in not receiving a refund for your trip or worst yet, being denied entry to a destination without the proper documentation or Covid testing requirements.

3. Not monitoring promotions

Did you know that many suppliers will allow you to modify your reservation if a better offer comes out later?

Oftentimes, a new promotion will allow you to reprice your trip at a lower price or get you an upgrade without paying extra.

The travel supplier won’t notify you of this, so it’s important to stay on top of each supplier’s promotions and understand their policies for making these types of changes.

4. Selecting the wrong travel protection plan

Unless you are in the business of selling travel protection, insurance can be very confusing.

Not only do you need coverage for unforeseen trip changes and cancellations, but many travelers are unaware that travel protection can also provide coverage for unexpected medical issues while traveling.

You'll need to check with your health insurance carrier, but most medical insurance plans do not cover health expenses that occur outside of the U.S. Travel protection plans also have certain clauses on what type of insurance you can purchase and when you can purchase them - so it's important to understand all the rules and requirements.


5. Listening to their friends’ advice

Sure, you trust your friends and while you seem to have similar interests and children around the same age, you need to remember that every family is different and every family vacations differently.

It’s important to recognize this and make travel decisions that are best for your family.

You could visit a destination and have completely different expectations or experiences than other families. Plus, your friends might not be aware of any recent updates if they haven’t visited that destination in a while.

6. Not properly reading the booking policies

It is very important to read all the terms and conditions of each travel supplier’s booking policies.

Each reservation you make whether it’s for flights, hotels, tours or activities will have its own set of policies.

Many inexpensive rates are non-refundable and/or have inflexible modification policies. It’s important to select a rate and travel supplier that will offer you the flexibility you need.

7. Not pre-arranging transportation, activities and other trip elements

It’s important that you arrange as many trip elements as you can BEFORE you leave for your trip ...and as early as possible.

Over the years, we have seen times when there are no car rentals available and no private ground transportation to reserve.

Plus, many popular tours, restaurant reservations and activities can be sold out for months in advance.

Save yourself the headache of trying to make these arrangements during your vacation and book as much as you can ahead of time. This might be your only opportunity to visit a destination and you don't want to miss out on any must-do sights or experiences.

8. Not using a Travel Advisor

Of course, we had to throw in this last mistake!

Yes, you can easily research and book a vacation all on your own.

When you are investing so much of your time, effort, hard-earned dollars and well-deserved vacation days, why would you risk not using a professional to help you?

Travel Advisors do more than just the online "point-and-click" booking engines.

Travel Advisors stay on top of the latest travel requirements, activities, hotels and help travelers to create a customized itinerary that is right for their family.

Most importantly, Travel Advisors will prevent you from making mistakes that so many travelers are guilty of doing when they try to plan that perfect vacation on their own.

Want more information about how a Travel Advisor can assist you with your next family vacation? Feel free to reach out to me at or schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss your next trip.

Lissa Ryan is a Senior Travel Advisor with Kingdom Destinations specializing in luxurious family vacations. Lissa helps busy parents who want to create travel memories with their families through luxury travel experiences, but are too busy or overwhelmed with all the effort and research that is required to plan that perfect vacation.


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