In the hustle of the back-to-school season, you’re barely keeping your head above the lunch bags, back packs, binders, new shoes, homework, and forms.

I get it. Me too.

BUT .. in the midst of that chaos, I’m still dreaming of winter and spring breaks. I’m a planner when it comes to family vacations and I’m already elbow deep in planning our February run away from it all.

When picking our destination, we rotate. Zacharie had a Disney dream come true, while Charlie suggested up some family time on the beaches of San Jose del Cabo.

This year, it’s Mama’s turn and she’s playing eeny meeny miney moe still trying to decide between MexicoCosta Rica, or Jamaica.

Tulum, Mayan Riviera

I told you I was a planner.

Now is the time to make a vision board, plot out your budget, start canvassing friends for recommendations, and lining up blog posts to read and reviews to review.

Getting it done now, gives you more time to relax and start planning for Christmas. Because, seriously, once that season hits you won’t have time to think about winter break vacation planning.

Air Canada Vacations is helping you with the budget planning part by saving you $600 per family (based on a family of 4) on every booking made between September 1 and 30, 2017. PLUS there are over 100 resorts where kids under 12 can stay free!!

That is the best. Kids staying free saves you money, and those kind of resorts are the ones where kids have the most fun. They’re targeted to families, they have kids’ clubs for entertainment, and they’re working hard to make sure every member of the family has a great vacation.

While you get ready to plan your winter escape, and save some money with Air Canada Vacationshere are some tips for planning the best family winter vacations:

How To Have The Best Family Winter Vacation Ever

1. Do your research

I’m a member of a few local Facebook groups filled with families. Asking the group for reviews on resorts and destinations can help you narrow your search for areas that fit your budget and family dynamic. This is my first place to look for advice before doing a deeper dive on my own.

2. Flip through the brochure or website and look for amenities

Once you have a short list, dig deeper to see exactly what is on offer at each resort.  Air Canada Vacations has a sun brochure online so you can easily scan resorts and compare amenities. Have a look at the pools, check out pics of the kids’ club, and see if there are special programs targeted to the age of your kids (some might be too old, or too young in their focus).

If you need to hold the dream in your hand, printed versions of the brochure are available through travel agencies.

Mayan Riviera, Mexico

3. Find the right match for your family

Different resort chains have different focuses. For example, you know you’re going to get a family-focused, character-driven vacation from a Beaches property.  The Kunuku Aqua Resort in Curaçao and the and the Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts in Punta Cana are very kid-friendly and offer a fun escape for families too.

Many resorts offer kids stay and eat free packages, and this summer Air Canada Vacations has added a Play More program that allows the whole family to select their seat and gives each family member a $10 voucher for an in-flight meal (voucher available each way of your trip, see bottom of post for full details).

4. Book early

When you book an Air Canada Vacations escape for the family before September 30, 2017, you’ll save $600 per family on your trip to  Mexico & the Caribbean with the Early Booking Promotion!

There’s also a Price Drop Guarantee that will give you peace of mind for locking in your spot early if you want to ditch the kids and do a trip on your own. Couples who book participating resorts by October 31, can get up to $800 cash back, if the price of their winter package drops!

5. Be open to a change of plans

Even if you do all the research and land on the right resort, it just might not jive with your kids for whatever reason. So be ready to roll with it, because it might even go the other way.

We didn’t think kids’ clubs were all that great after our first resort experiences, but on one trip to Los Cabos, our boys immediately ditched us from the second day on announcing the kids’ club was more fun than hanging with us. It was a child-free family vacation that made everyone smile.

If you can be flexible with destination and timing of your trip, Air Canada Vacations specialists can work with you to find the best vacation at the best price.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

6. Book direct

This is a no brainer. The fewer times you have to load and unload the team from an aircraft, the fewer opportunities there are to lose a stuffy, favourite LEGO, or blanket. Air Canada Vacations has added new flights from Calgary to Los Cabos and Huatulco, Mexico for the 2017/2018 season.

Use the Air Canada Vacations flight schedule to identify new routes, additional flight frequencies, and larger aircrafts.

7. Involve the kids in the planning

I’ve already explained how our kids help in picking the destination, that’s a great way to get them involved. But how about also having them make a bucket list of things they want to do on your vacay? Here’s one Charlie made for a weekend getaway to Banff last winter, but it could just as easily have been made for a week at a beachy resort.

This post is sponsored by Air Canada Vacations

Air Canada Vacations

MORE TIPS FOR SAVING!

If you’re looking to travel during the peak holiday periods or during winter break (December 18th to January 5th & February 10th to February 18th), it is best to book early. Some destinations are more popular with travelers so it is best to book early to get the most options:

If you’re looking for the biggest bang for your buck some hotel chains offer additional booking bonuses when you book at certain resorts. Keep an eye out for booking bonuses at these hoteliers:

  • Hard Rock Hotels
  • Palace Resorts
  • Karisma Hotels and Resorts
  • Hyatt Ziva All-Inclusive Resorts

Use the Air Canada Vacations flight schedule to identify new routes, additional flight frequencies and larger aircrafts.

SAVE UP TO $600 PER FAMILY WITH THE EARLY BOOKING BONUS
Travelers who plan early can benefit from substantial savings on their 2017/2018 holiday to Mexico & the Caribbean, with the Early Booking Promotion. Reservations made by September 30 represent savings of $600 per family ($200 per adult and $100 per child ages 2 to 12), while bookings made between October 1 and 31 represent $500 in savings.

PRICE DROP GUARANTEE
The Price Drop Guarantee returns this year again. Couples who book participating resorts by October 31, can get up to $800 cash back, if the price of their winter package drops.

UPGRADE TO PLAY MORE!
As an extension of the Family collection, the Play program lets travelers experience the ultimate family-friendly vacation. This winter, families can upgrade to the NEW Play More, to enjoy even more fun. On top of the Play inclusions (kids 12-and-under eat, play and stay free, pre-boarding for families, dedicated pool areas for kids, supervised kids’ clubs), the Play More program allows the whole family to select their seat, a value of $160 for a family of four, as well as a $10 voucher for an in-flight meal per family member, per segment. The upgrade is available for only $39 per adult and $19 per child.

Sunset in Puerto Vallarta

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