Think of these required trips as an opportunity to finally see Yellowstone National Park, visit Disney World, or explore a big city like Chicago — or to maximize your time wherever your travels take you.
“I have many families tacking on vacation time before or after a family obligation,” says family trip planner Lauren Goldenberg. “We first take a look at where and when they need to be somewhere to find interesting places to visit, explore and stay that would be within a reasonable reach. Sometimes we can even add on a cruise, group family tour or other type of travel opportunity.”
Here are tips for planning your next oblication:
Be upfront with family by sharing your plans, telling them exactly when you’ll be available for the obligation, and what you’ll be doing before or afterward so there are no misunderstandings. Maybe your brother’s family would like to book a stay with you at the Holiday Inn Orlando-Disney Springs Area or you’d be happy to take mom and dad to the Holiday Inn West Yellowstone — just make sure everyone is in the loop.
Build in Time for Fun
Set a clear departure time from the obligatory part of your travels, so you won’t get roped into helping your uncle put up his new fence or staying for the town’s annual sleigh ride. Even if you’re not able to head to a different destination after your required event, carve out a day or two for some fun activities. Every town has new-to-you antique or vintage stores, a nearby theme park or scenic hiking spot in which to spend the day.
Hit the Road
Once you’re set with your obligation, research destinations a few hours away by car or train for a pre- or post-event getaway to a beach destination, like the Holiday Inn Sarasota-Lido Beach. You should consider destinations that are not so far that they are stressful to reach, but not so close that they still offer some separation from your obligations.
Book a Hotel
If you’re staying with family or friends for the mandatory event, consider moving afterwards to a Holiday Inn, which offers locations in 49 states and Washington, D.C. Or perhaps you will enjoy the entire experience that much more if you stay at a hotel the entire time and visit with relatives and friends as you wish.
You can use the IHG mobile application to book your stays, whether planned or spontaneous, and get access to the best rates.
Use Non-Direct Flights to Your Advantage
You can easily make a two-destination vacation out of your obligation — and possibly save on airfare — by booking a flight with a stopover, or two separate short-haul flights. Perhaps you can take advantage of layovers on the way home — or route train travel through a different city — to stop at a new destination for a few days.
Plan for Peak Season
Obligations reach their peak in early spring as the weather warms — think May weddings, June graduations and summer family reunions — so take advantage of invitations as they arrive. If you know you’ll be attending an event, research, plan and book the fun part before seasonal rates kick in.
With some forethought, you can have the best of both worlds — seeing Aunt Betty do her signature line dance at the family wedding and enjoying some down time by the pool — or any other travel experience you can imagine.