We recently took an epic family trip to Thailand! I love traveling/going on adventures and I loved doing it with my family as I was growing up. I lived in China for about a year (6 months once, then 4 months the second time) and since then I was hooked on traveling. I don’t really care where we go (domestic, international, or even in our own state) I just like to go and see new things, or revisit things that I love.
I knew that traveling would be something I wanted to do as a family even before I had kids. Before Thailand we had gone on several family trips (domestic) and have taken them to Mexico with us. (Although its hard for me to classify Mexico as international since San Carlos is like a second home to me.) I knew I wanted my kids to experience international travel. I asked on a travel forum about taking kids on international trips and I got mixed comments back. I’d say about 50/50 said to wait until the kids could remember more, and the rest said just do it! (Like most things when it comes to parenting you won’t really hear a 100% consensus, so I end up doing what I want!)
I knew Thailand would be our first international destination as a family since Chris lived there for several years, spoke the language, and loved it there! We had also been back since we were married and I LOVED Thailand. We also knew it was a safe country, and familiar to us. Its also extremely cheap and the food is AMAZING. So before I even convinced Chris we should go, I started watching for a good deal on plane tickets. I originally wanted to go for Christmas. Kids were out of school, Chris didn’t have work, the weather is warm there year round. I tried to convince Chris to go then, but sadly plane tickets were just a little too high. (The cheapest I found was $750 round trip per person, which isn’t terrible, but I thought I had a much better chance at convincing Chris if they were $500 or less.) I gave up my Christmas in Thailand plan, (but not until after I hyped it up for the kid. I bought all sorts of kids books getting the kids excited about it. I figured if we didn’t go at Christmas, we would still go sometime, and if the kids were excited about it, then Chris would be more likely to let us go!) but I didn’t give up my Thailand dream!
Even though I knew we weren’t going to go over Christmas, I still wanted to go, and I was still watching for deals (Hopper App, Scott’s Cheap Flights, and Pomelo are great ways to watch for deals. I recommend always watching deals for flights, that way when you are ready to book you know what a great price looks like!) We ended up getting the alert on the Hopper App, but we ended up booking out of the app through Cheapo Air. (We flew China Eastern.)
I think there was a perfect storm in convincing Chris to go to Thailand as a family. First, my sister Beth came to visit. She lived in Thailand for 4 months, in one of the same cities Chris lived in. (Chris lived in 5 different cities over the space of about 2 years.) She told us stories of when she lived there. We pulled up google maps to look at the city. We talked about her vacations, and food she ate. She quizzed Chris on the language and what he remembered. I think talking about Thailand made him homesick for it, and he was liking the idea of going back. (Original he was pushing for just he and I going. Which is great, except arranging childcare is harder now that we don’t live by family and the kids are in school…and we would be gone for at least 2 weeks which felt too long for me to leave the kids…and I wanted to go as a family!)
I had a few dates I was watching for flights, one over the kids’ mid winter break and one over their spring break. I knew I would better convince Chris of going back if the kids didn’t have to miss much school. Finally one of my dates had deals on flights! We could go for under $500 over spring break. The alert came just a week after Beth left and Chris was feeling nostalgic for Thailand! I sent him the deal and he told me we could talk about it! (We had never gotten this far on making my Thailand trip a reality!
The final part in the perfect storm came when we were double checking dates/flights. We saw that Chris’ favorite (Thai) Holiday was happening the week before the kids’ spring break. We saw that if we let the kids miss a week of school we could be in Thailand for Songkran. Even better the tickets were a little cheaper! I think that sealed the deal for Chris and we booked it that night! We saved about $150 a ticket a person by flying out of Vancouver Canada and we saved about $50 a ticket a person by flying into Chiang Mai over Bangkok. (Which we knew we wanted to be in that area anyway!) We were able to get tickets for $400 a person round trip.
We booked our trip end of January and we left April 11. There was plenty of time to plan for our trip and get the kids really excited! We read a lot of books about Thailand. (Fiction and Nonfiction). We listened to Thai music, we watched youtube videos about Songkran. We bought goodies for our trip. (Songkran shirts, neck pillows, blanket scarves, etc.) and made all of that exciting for the kids. We had a countdown on our dry erase board to help us get excited for our trip. And we listened to some of Dad’s stories about Thailand. It was fun seeing the kids’ excitement! I believe that sometimes the hype is just as much fun as the actual event!