Tampa beach at sunset



How to Find Your Favorite Vacation Spot

How to Find Your Favorite Vacation Spot

By: Sarah Marshall

Do you have a favorite vacation spot? Some travelers can’t wait to explore somewhere new each and every time they have time away from work and funds to travel. For others, there is comfort and excitement in returning to the same destination year after year. 

My friend Lynn refers to her family as “intense Disney people” and I understand why. Each spring, she and her husband take their three kids to Disney World in Florida. In the fall, she and her husband go on their own on a trip they’ve nicknamed “Just the Two of Us”. They attend the Disney Food & Wine Festival and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party. Her husband even runs the Wine and Dine Two Course Challenge, which consists of a 10K race on one day and a half marathon the next. On each and every trip, they walk about 15 miles a day, hit the parks open to close, take a little pool break during the afternoon, and somehow manage to hit all of their favorite attractions. 

Although they have traveled extensively to other destinations, Walt Disney World simply keeps drawing them back. “We just love the Disney hospitality and customer service,” Lynn explained to me. “All of the cast members are so nice and welcoming; it feels like coming home when we walk into a Disney World resort or one of the Disney World theme parks.”

How to Choose a Vacation Destination

If you’ve followed our blog for any period of time, you know that we care deeply about helping families with special needs. Many autistic children thrive on routine, and change can be a very big deal. One of the great things about finding a favorite travel destination is that you can help develop vacation routines that your child can depend on when away from home. You can also intersperse new activities into each trip—but within the comforting routine that you have established away from home.

Even if you know a thing or two about how to choose a vacation destination, you might worry that you’re missing out by returning to one location again and again. However, as Lynn’s story shows, each return visit can be even more enjoyable than the last.

There’s no one-size-fits-all way to find a favorite vacation spot, but that’s part of the fun! We want to share a little more of Lynn’s story in the hope that it will inspire you to start your own search:

Early Years

Growing up, Lynn’s family vacationed at the same resort in upstate New York twice a year. In the summer, they enjoyed swimming, water skiing, horseback riding, and fishing. In the winter, they could downhill ski every single day, go snowmobiling, ice skating, ice fishing—and continue to ride horses. Everyone in the family had something to do that they loved, and so everyone loved returning year after year. Her husband’s family went to Florida for Spring Break every single year, for two weeks each trip. The first week they always spent at Walt Disney World, and the second week was a relaxing beach vacation at Fort Myers Beach. 

Why Disney?

“The thing I love about Disney is that we all have our favorite rides, attractions, and restaurants. My husband has to have a cinnamon roll from Gaston’s Buns each trip. For me, I must have a Mickey pretzel with that processed cheese cup,” she laughs.

“We have our fast-pass strategy down, we know that we are going to wake up super early, be one of the first people in line each morning at rope drop, and then race-walk to whatever ride we couldn’t fast pass. We even have nicknames for our morning cardio, like The Race for Space at The Magic Kingdom. Then we will slow down a bit and hit a Joffrey’s stand for coffee and giant donuts no matter what park we are visiting.”

“His must-ride attraction in all of Disney World is Soarin’, and for me, it’s Test Track, although now we are both obsessed with Flights of Passage over at Animal Kingdom.” 

Small Changes Make All the Difference

However, as much as they love to ride their favorite rides and eat their favorite foods, they also love the fact that Disney is always adding new things and making little changes. “Each year it seems there has been a new ride or a land, first Pandora at Animal Kingdom, then Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios. We have not been to Galaxy’s Edge yet, but we cannot wait to go and check that out,” she explained, “It’s been fun as they prepare for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World because there are so many new rides and areas being built that there is always something new!”   

Having a few new experiences at a familiar place can be extremely beneficial for families with autistic children. Although none of Lynn’s children are on the autism spectrum, some of them are definitely creatures of habit. “One of our daughters can get a little upset if we change our vacation habits, so it is nice that we can do most of our traditions but add some new experiences at the same time for the family members who are less interested in traditions.” 

Passing Down Traditions

Now that she and her husband have their own family vacation traditions that they’ve created over the years, they are passing down the concept of visiting a favorite spot year after year to their own kids, who are now teens and adults. “My mother always talked about her family vacations to Cape Cod that they took each summer. It was their go-to destination. Then of course my family went to Ridin Hy’ Ranch year after year, and now our kids are growing up as Disney-loving kids. It will be fun to see where they each choose to take their own kids, and the traditions that they will develop if they have families of their own.” 

Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

Of course, it can take some experimenting before choosing your favorite go-to vacation spot. Before their Disney obsession began, Lynn and her husband took some amazing trips to Mackinaw Island, Michigan. That trip also included stops in St. Joe, Michigan, and Frankenmuth—for their Christmas shops and iconic German restaurants—that they think the kids would enjoy repeating. They would love to go back to South Dakota, where they road-tripped and explored the black hills, Mount Rushmore, Sturgis, Custer State Park, and Deadwood. 

Of course, everyone in the family agrees that their favorite trip of all was the Disney Cruise that they took on the Disney Dream cruise ship a few years ago.

Keep a Travel Journal

Keeping a travel journal can be a great way to keep track of all of the things that your own family did on each vacation. I love this one from Erin Condren, that you can use before, during, and after your trip.  You can also use a simple journal to record all of your ideas and memories.

Your Travel Agent is Here to Help!

As always, I am here to help you plan your family vacation, whether you are going somewhere for the first time or the twelfth. If you have a traditional place where you love to travel, stop by our Facebook page and let us know where you love to vacation! Looking for inspiration? Check out our blog or start a conversation with an agent today.