Totebag Fantasy Vacation

by Honolulu Mother

I’ve been doing some travel daydreaming lately, probably because the travel I have lined up for this summer is just some college visiting and I not-so-secretly would rather be doing a big trip. So I thought others might like to do some travel daydreaming as well, with a set of rules and conditions to give some form to it.

The challenge: You have money to burn – a $75,000 budget specifically – and you are planning a dream trip for 6 to 8 people (inviting along friends, bringing the kids, inviting a sibling and spouse or other family), to last a week or a week and a half excluding travel time getting there and back. We’ll assume that for the purpose of this dream vacation everyone can get time away from work or school at the desired time. What do you plan?

You can charter a boat with a skipper and a chef and still come in well below budget, it appears – https://www.moorings.com/ .  Even renting a chateau or villa doesn’t put that much of a dent in it — I suppose you could hire the staff to go with it and that would raise the price.  (If you go to https://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/Search-and-book/#Search and sort by price descending you’ll see that you could find some pretty interesting places and still be well below that generous budget.)

I suppose I’m thinking too small — too much like my usual way of travel.  Here’s a place I would very much like to visit where bringing six to eight people for a week would burn right through that generous budget: https://www.wildretreat.com/ .  And this London accommodation, considering whatever the additional cost must be for adding the connecting suite for the third bedroom, would blow up the budget without leaving anything for meals! https://www.theritzlondon.com/book-a-signature-suite/the-prince-of-wales-suite/ .  Setting up a customized tour like this https://kerdowney.com/ker-downey-difference-east-africa/ would pretty much use up the budget and you couldn’t be choosing the highest-end option for everything.  It’s not hard to be spendy in Japan, with options like this https://www.relaischateaux.com/us/japan/senjuan-gunma-minakami and this https://www.jrailpass.com/blog/seven-stars-kyushu-luxury-train.  And if your dream trip is a family ski vacation in somewhere like Aspen or Banff between Christmas and New Year’s . . . that can add up.

So, given the $75K budget, what week to week and a half dream vacation would you treat your group to?

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136 thoughts on “Totebag Fantasy Vacation

  1. Organizing a group of that size does not sound like a vacation to me. First thing I’d do is book a cruise for most of them.

  2. Since I/we have been looking at doing the Alaska cruise + land tour for the 5 of us next June and I’ve revealed pricing here before, if we added 2-3 other people and upgraded everyone to first class air and maybe a cabin level from where I’ve been thinking the $75k would be essentially done. And, if we kept to the 4 day land tour + 7 night cruise we’d basically be within the 1.5 week guideline, but I want time in Vancouver at the end, so we really need 2 weeks.

    Dunno who the other 2-3 people would be. If we were to include DS1’s and DS2’s girlfriends, that would truly take away from the 3 guys bonding and I don’t want to limit that. Not either set of inlaws, not my sister+husband. DW’s one sister + family did this trip a couple of years ago. Not her other sister+husband+18yo kid.

  3. So very interesting. The Four Seasons Bora Bora?

    via Qatar’s new Q Suites Business Class

  4. Rhett, that looks about like Emirates biz class. It would be a way to get rid of the money, but I have a hard time believing I’d get that much enjoyment out of it. So far, given the flight schedules we’ve had, I’ve never felt like there was a good chance for even flat seats on a plane. I know that makes me an outlier here. Your hotel pick, however, reminds me of the Meridian hotel in Papeete. We didn’t stay over the water, but Isaac spent a lot of time walking around the casitas and looking at the fish with his babysitter, who had been pulled off her usual job cleaning rooms.

  5. Where do I begin? $75k might not be enough for some of the trips I’m thinking of.

    Luxury & Private Trans-Siberian Railway Express Trains & Tours — Maybe if I limit to immediate family and SOs this might work.
    https://www.thetranssiberiantravelcompany.com/tours/luxury-private-train-tours/

    Charter a boat and crew (everything I know about luxury boat travel I learned from Below Deck) to island hop and tour the mainland of Croatia.

    A tour through Sicily and other nearby islands to eat, explore ancient ruins, and hike up volcanoes would be fun.

    I think I would need 2-3 weeks for my trips.

  6. S&M,

    You’re thinking of Emirates First Class:

    Their business class kinda sucks. Notice the middle seat….

  7. A week is too short for a dream vacation.

    OK, I would plan for my full family plus my sister just to get the number up above 6. I would want to go to China, specifically Xi’an and then Tibet. But my sister wouldn’t be up physically for Tibet so I guess we would have to bag that. OK, maybe Singapore and Hong Kong. To get my sister to agree to such a long flight, we would have to fly first class, so that would likely eat up a lot of the budget. Hmm, first class to HK on Cathay Pacific is 30K, so I guess we can’t afford that. How about business class. That seems to be 8K, so that would blow a sizeable chunk of the budget but there still might be enough to pay for hotels in HK and Singapore, which are not cheap. I wonder if my sister would agree to business class? Probably not. Hmm, who else could I take?

  8. Oooo….my first thought was the Four Seasons private jet tour, but those start at like $150K per person. I don’t want to go on vacation with 8 of my family members anyway. :)

    The other trip that came to mind is the week at an Italian villa vacation that my friends & I have been talking up for our 50th birthdays (long, long time from now…heh). But with the $75K budget for 6, we could take upgraded flights & upgraded accommodations.

  9. I actually have two dream trips that I am hoping to do someday with DH after I retire. If I extended them to a group of 6-8, we’d probably get to HM’s budget, more or less.

    One is a cruise on a passenger ship/working freighter in the Marquesas Islands:

    https://aranui.com/

  10. She probably would not. She has a horror of flying and is convinced that being in the air for 16 hours would render her unable to walk for the next two days, and would give her a sinus infection to boot. Her dream vacation would be driving around small towns in Indiana. I only include her to get my numbers up to 6.
    I have another good friend who I have travelled with before successfully, so maybe her and her husband. He is Chinese but his Mandarin is poor. However, they have gone many times so maybe they would be a good choice if I wanted to do Tibet.
    The time frame, though, is still too short. I would want at least 2 weeks.

  11. Oooh this is an easy question for me since I plan trips all the time in my head. First, I need permission to bump the group size to 9 for my ideal group, which is my family + my favorite sibling’s family. That would be 4 adults, 2 teens, 2 pre-teens, and 1 grade schooler.

    Assuming that’s okay, then I would want to do a Backroads trip specifically geared towards family groups. This one looks perfect:
    https://www.backroads.com/trips/MHWIF/hawaii-big-island-biking-hiking-family-tour
    With $75K I’d have enough to fly everyone to Hawaii first class, add a few days on the front end, and then we’d do that trip.

    If I can’t go over 8 people, I would do my immediate family + my parents on a safari:
    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/expeditions/destinations/africa/family/tanzania-family-tour/

  12. Oooh this is an easy question for me since I plan trips all the time in my head. First, I need permission to bump the group size to 9 for my ideal group, which is my family + my favorite sibling’s family. That would be 4 adults, 2 teens, 2 pre-teens, and 1 grade schooler.

    Assuming that’s okay, then I would want to do a Backroads trip specifically geared towards family groups. This one looks perfect:
    https://www.backroads.com/trips/MHWIF/hawaii-big-island-biking-hiking-family-tour
    With $75K I’d have enough to fly everyone to Hawaii first class, add a few days on the front end, and then we’d do that trip.

    If I can’t go over 8 people, I would do my immediate family + my parents on a safari:
    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/expeditions/destinations/africa/family/tanzania-family-tour/

  13. And I’d reach out to Rhett to tell me what airline and class I should be flying from MSP.

    Ohh! My favorite thing.

    Hum… your best bet would probably be Turkish via Chicago and Istanbul. Turkish’s claim to fame is that, along with Austrian, it has what some consider the world’s best catering.

  14. I’m kind of laughing because I couldn’t round up six friends who would be willing to spend that kind of money on a trip — they wouldn’t even let someone else buy them that kind of trip. There was a Facebook fight just the other day about whether luxury cars are evil. The claim was that pedicures are an acceptable indulgence, but luxury cars are right out. You should be spending that on the poor. I had a whole bunch of things to say about that, especially about exploited nail salon workers, but I went with “least said, soonest mended”.

    Assuming I could round up a few capitalist running dogs to keep me company, I guess maybe I’d rent a villa someplace pretty. Like Italy. And we’d just hang out and have really good food and go boating on Lake Como and swim and just putter around. Or maybe Lake Como’s too passé; I mean how many years has Clooney had that place, anyway? Croatia looks nice. So maybe Croatia. Stay up and drink wine and argue about current events and then have the staff bring us espresso and croissants and fruit in the morning when we eventually wake up.

  15. And that is why I would ask Rhett! I would love that dessert cart, as would my kids. They are excited to get food on our flight to London.

  16. Mine would be similar to RMS’s. Someone I’m related to has a MIL who does some sort of acquisitions for a museum. Every summer she rents a large place in a European country and her children and families come and stay st different times and use the house as a home base from which to travel. I’d love to do that (breaking the allotted time frame) and have my siblings’ families and various friends stay with me. My current first choice is Ireland because there are many of my dad’s cousins I’d like to meet while they’re alive, and there are a number of other things on my list there, but Italy is another place I’d love to have the time to explore

  17. I am planning a trip like this right now, although the price tag will be lower. Nine people. Villa with staff in Italy (15,000), flights (using points for old people (those 40 and older) so they get business class, younger people – budgeting $10,000), hotel in Rome (8-10,000, we need 5 rooms and will be there for 4 nights). Food and tours – who knows? 15,000?. Once in a lifetime type trip. Everybody better love it.

  18. I can’t get excited about food on a plane. Food doesn’t taste right to most people on planes because of the altitude, so they have to add lots of salt. I care more that the inseat entertainment works and that there might be some way to sleep, at least a little. I can eat when I get to my destination.

  19. I see plane on the food as part of the entertainment. I’d order the Turkish ravioli.

  20. MM,

    It doesn’t taste the same due to pressure and humidity levels. However the new 787 and A350, being made of carbon fiber, are pressurized to much lower altitudes and with might higher humidity. Food on a 787 shouldn’t taste any different than food in Denver.

    You could really tell the difference on the 787 back and forth to Tokyo.

  21. @RMS – You can come to Italy with me & my friends. We don’t care if it is passe. I think the pasta is still better in Italy. :)

  22. Off topic, NIMBY stuff. On the local town Facebook group, everyone is freaking out over an application to build new multi-family housing in town. This is exactly why housing costs so much around here – people don’t want multi family housing in THEIR backyards

  23. MM,

    Are the units going to be cheaper than a single family? In some cases it’s this

    vs.

    In such cases the SES stays the same or increases as density increases.

  24. On topic – I was ready to pull the trigger on our tickets to Ecuador, and thought I’d better call the travel company (Backroads) to be sure I have the dates 100% correct. Turns out so far we are the only ones signed up, and the trip is not guaranteed to go. Eek. If they don’t get minimum slots filled, the trip won’t go.

    So here’s a question: if you were going to celebrate a big anniversary in February and had 9 nights of childcare lined up, where would you go? Let’s assume free airfare. No Caribbean.

  25. I’d look into Portugal. But knowing me, I’d end up here https://www.islandlakelodge.com/, and then spend a few days in Montana. Or, we’d go to Whistler and Vancouver, because February is perfect skiing time and it is rare we’d have 9 free nights without kids that time of year!

  26. MM – down the street from me they tore down a POS house and with the two empty lots next door, built 6 unit condo building and 6 townhouses. Everyone was in an uproar and the city and developer kept coming back saying that we need more housing, blah blah blah. Well, the units go between 800k-1.2M. So they look nice (think of the pics Rhett shared), but the affordable housing that so many people say they want is just not coming. The developers in the area have said that the lots are so expensive that they have to charge these prices to turn a profit. The biggest issue is that they didn’t provide enough parking/garages for this development, so congestion has increased.

  27. Lark, Why don’t you still go buy use a different tour company?

    Yes. Definitely an option. We were just sold on this particular itinerary/boat/etc. but I’m sure there are a number of alternatives that are just as good. Australia is a good idea. Argentina would be good too – the idea of no jet lag is pretty appealing.

  28. So here’s a question: if you were going to celebrate a big anniversary in February and had 9 nights of childcare lined up, where would you go? Let’s assume free airfare. No Caribbean.

    Japan or Spain? The temps are in the 50s in Madrid and Tokyo so it’s perfect for walking around. And in Spain if you go south it’s heads into the 70s.

  29. Increasing density will over time drive down prices. It is better for the environment too. In our town, most of the new apartment developments have been targeted to young professionals who work in Manhattan but can’t afford to live there. They aren’t “affordable” in the sense of low income housing, but they allow younger people to stay in this area.

  30. Rhett’s picture looks exactly like the increased density in my town. Given the costs of labor, permitting, construction fees, etc. it isn’t possible to *build* “affordable” housing. Housing becomes affordable as it becomes less desirable, which is why the post WW II low quality houses/duplexes are being replaced by the behemoths that Rhett shows.

    Lark, I’d go to New Zealand in February. I loved it in January.

  31. All good ideas. I’m trying not to borrow worry. Already put tons and tons of thought into this trip (pretty sure I solicited ideas here before) and thought I had found the perfect trip. Excellent chance other people who don’t plan as far in advance as I do will still book and it will be a go. (But seriously people we are 8 months out. Get a move on.) Putting it out of my mind for another month or so and then will worry.

  32. Lark, how about Cape Verde? Or Morocco, as suggested above, and do some serious glamping there.

    Rhett, love your knowledge of luxury flight! I think I’ve seen low fares for Turkish. Can that be right?

    Rocky, Becky & Ivy, let’s meet up in Sicily! We can rent a villa, tour the Nero d’Avola wineries, Mt. Etna, and ruins of Greek, Roman, and Byzantian ruins, swim in the Mediterranean, and generally enjoy la dolce vita. My son would be a drag on a trip like that.

    Mooshi, want to take my kid along? I’d love to see your kids’ travel attitudes rub off on him. I’d invite myself along too, but you have to promise not to be offended when I (or he or we) want to fuck off for a little while because we need some time on our own.

  33. “seriously people we are 8 months out. Get a move on”

    lol

    Costa Rica might be good for your group too.

  34. I haven’t been to Sicily since 1978. I still remember how pretty it is.

  35. Rhett, doesn’t Emirates have a class that gives you little rooms, like first class overnight trains?

  36. Rhett, doesn’t Emirates have a class that gives you little rooms, like first class overnight trains?

    Yes, but not in Business Class. You can get little rooms with doors in Business class on Delta, JetBlue, Qatar etc. But you don’t get a little room in Business Class on Emirates.

    As for Turkish they have good prices. They are also the airline that flies to the most international destinations of any airline in the world. If you want to fly from Boston, Chicago, or NYC to Karachi, Khartoum or Kathmandu with one stop – Turkish is the way to go.

  37. Housing becomes affordable as it becomes less desirable,

    Exactly. When those new condos go up the dated cape down the street is no longer going to sell for top dollar. So they cut the price $50k. And then another dated cape even further from the train station becomes even less desirable so they cut there price, and on and on through the system until you get to whatever your definition of affordable is.

    People think you need to build “affordable housing” when all you need to do is build housing and the rest takes care of itself.

  38. Regarding steerage, I flew ~18,000 miles on United round trip around SE Asia for a total mileage credit of 3,600 miles. I didn’t realize they’d updated their system so that you new get fewer miles than you flew.

  39. S&M,

    Yup Qatar first class is all open:

    But they are probably eventually go to a first class like Etihad where the bed and seat are separate and all in your own room with a door.

  40. We got four RT tickets to London with Delta on points for our trip this summer (in coach, alas), but after this trip I’m not playing the points game any more. I would rather have the flexibility to fly whatever airline I want, on whatever route I want. It ended up being a bit of a PITA to get from London to Athens (we ended up booking on British Airways; they don’t partner with Delta, so we’ll need to collect baggage at Heathrow after the BOS-LHR Delta flight , and then go through the whole process of checking in and checking baggage for the BA flight to Athens). Our points weren’t even enough for two Boston-Athens tickets on Delta or their partner airlines, let alone four, which is why we split the journey the way we did.

  41. “I would rather have the flexibility to fly whatever airline I want, on whatever route I want. “

    That’s why I have not used our huge bank of points for travel in recent years. However, I plan to suck it up and try using them for future trips. This article put the fear of God in me.

    A Thorny Inheritance Issue: Frequent-Flier Miles
    After a loved one dies, airlines often don’t make it easy for family members to salvage miles that could be worth thousands of dollars

    You obviously can’t take them with you. But upon death, you often can’t even leave your frequent-flier miles behind.

    At many airlines, frequent-flier miles vanish when the customer dies. Many airlines close accounts that are sometimes worth tens of thousands of dollars and take back miles. Others may make an exception if you plead, creating hassle and uncertainty in a time of grief.

    And airlines being airlines, there’s sometimes a fee to transfer miles to an heir’s account, eroding their worth significantly.

    American and United airlines say in their program rules that miles aren’t transferable. Except they may, at their discretion, allow it after a member dies, with proper documentation, like a death certificate or executed will, and payment of fees. Spokespeople for both airlines say they have stopped collecting fees in recent years. United says it’s going to update its terms and conditions to remove fees in cases of death….

    Pre-Departure Planning
    Some steps to improve the odds your miles will outlive you:
    * Put explicit instructions in your will. It can help with airlines and their arbitrary rules and “case-by-case consideration.”
    * Make sure that someone you want to have the miles has your account information, passwords and access to the credit card and email associated with the account. The best move is to use the miles before an airline figures out the member has died.
    * Don’t pay to transfer. If the airline won’t relent, make sure the fee doesn’t wipe out most of the value of the miles.
    * Make sure the account doesn’t expire from inactivity.
    * If available, sign up for family pooling before anyone passes away.
    * And advice for all of us, dead and alive: Don’t sit on your miles. They decline in value.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-thorny-inheritance-issue-frequent-flier-miles-11560936602?mod=itp_wsj&mod=&mod=djemITP_h

  42. NoB–carry on! And check in for both flights on your phone before you leave. I hope it all goes smoothly–sounds like a great trip!

  43. I haven’t flown business class in years, but I recently discovered I get free booze when I buy certain upgrades with “plus” in their names. At first I thought the attendants were being nice by not charging me for drinks but then I read that it’s part of the package in many cases.

  44. “NoB–carry on!”

    S&M – I would, but we’re going away for long enough that I need to bring more liquid toiletries than I can carry on. Good idea about checking in electronically – thanks!

  45. Rhett, yes, that’s the one! Their suites are crazy

    NoB, guess we all have our own priorities. If I was going for that long, I’d stop in a drug store to buy shampoo, etc. Or I’d split things up so everyone filled their quota. But that’s me.

  46. July – when my FIL passed away he had hundreds of thousands in FF miles. A Delta rep was kind enough to let my MIL know that as long as she keeps logging into his account and buying tickets from there she’d be okay. But the second she official tells Delta he has died, or if she forgets the login credentials they will disappear. My FIL had been saving up miles for all the trips they planned on taking once they both retired. Unfortunately he passed away months before their first of many to follow European river cruises.

  47. Regarding steerage, I flew ~18,000 miles on United round trip around SE Asia for a total mileage credit of 3,600 miles.

    That’s bizarre. I haven’t come across that.

  48. Weird that the link did that–trying again.

    Lemon Tree, having all that saved up and not living to enjoy it sounds like a parable.

  49. I flew roundtrip across the Atlantic 3 times over the last 12 months (#blessed) on Air France/Delta. I thought that must add up to some kind of status or lots of frequent flyer miles – but their system has changed to give almost no credit for cheap tickets. It wasn’t even worth signing up for the Air France loyalty program.

  50. Ada, I had the same experience with our HNL – LGW tickets on Westjet – buying the cheapest fare class gets you zero miles, at least with the partner airline (American). I think they may still credit you if you have a Westjet frequent flyer account, but it may be a fractional credit.

  51. The entire point of vacation to me is being one on one with a loved one, perhaps with an unrelated group as buffer. I cant imagine going on a trip with a large family or friends group. Too much time to have to navigate the social rules I only can adhere to by rote, since I cant comprehend or internalize them. 25K is our usual 2 person ceiling total price tag for 14 to 16 days. Sometimes much less, of course. So for a shorter trip I would just upgrade travel and accommodations, or have a private driver and guide with DH.

  52. That’s just horrific, WCE. The germs . . . How did you even come across it?

  53. It would require more time than 1.5 weeks, but I would do something like the Women’s or Men’s World Cup and try and see as many of the games as possible. Or go to the Olympics and go to all the competitions for some sports. At the 1984 Olympics I saw the Women’s Volleyball Finals and the Men’s Volleyball Semis and Finals in Long Beach. Or I might do March Madness.

    After the Chargers left San Diego, my father and brother have gone to one football game a year visiting other stadiums. They’ve now been to Buffalo and Jerry’s World. I could see traveling to watch a home game of some of the iconic players of their sport or witness some of the big rivalries.

    My parents would be all in on any of these adventures. My parents got to see Zion play at home courtesy of tickets that my brother and I gave them for my Dad’s birthday.

  54. The difficulty in getting toiletries and such at your destination varies widely. We needed to get some sudafed today, and it was really easy. Like in the U.S., you have to show an ID to get the good stuff. It was more of a challenge finding imodium in Iceland because there weren’t many pharmacies and they had limited hours.

    We’re flying Jetstar to Auckland on Monday, which is the equivalent of Spirit. But they have a cool service where you can pre-order food for your flight. It’s a really wide range of options, we’ll see if it’s any good. And they keep sending me emails reminding me to buy meals, pay for extra luggage etc. and it’s getting really annoying.

  55. We are on a trip/vacation in London and surrounding areas. The family trip with brother and his family and parents was enjoyable most times but traveling with my parents poses challenges that my sibling is not used to. I say trip/vacation because in London the kids and I are going at our pace which means seeing most things but not making ourselves tired till we drop trying to see everything.
    My sibling OTOH has us on a great road trip to attractions outside London but it’s hectic especially for my parents.
    I am sure my parents would love the first class to Bora Bora/Hawaii etc and a very relaxed schedule taking in some side trips from the resort some days.

  56. Denver, I hear you on the meds—what’s otc in one country might not be available that way elsewhere. We’ve been caught that way with melatonin requiring a prescription in Deutschland. Some people are very selective about their toiletries, so picking them up in their destination would be more difficult than it is for me.

  57. Louise, does your brother live in the UK, so he’s been saving up ideas since your/your parents’ last trip?

  58. I love reading about both fantasy vacations and real vacations.

    Some here have mentioned possible challenges in selecting travel companions. It can be harder traveling with some people — different personalities, preferences in activities, lower stamina levels, etc. I like it when fellow travelers are not demanding that everyone has to follow the same itinerary. It’s easier to let people do their own thing on some types of trips, but sometimes people still get grumpy or get their feelings hurt if no one wants to join them in certain activities or non-activities. The best travelers imo are flexible but at the same time enthusiastic about suggesting their own ideas.

  59. July – I always mention frequent flyer miles when I make a presentation about digital assets! ;)

    We are leaving for vacation today. I love car trip packing – you can throw everything in that you want! I just need to pack the toiletries, wait for DH to get up, and then we’ll be on our way.

  60. This thread reminded me that I’ve been wanting to ask The Totebag about a WCE family vacation to Hawaii. Budget TBD (or we won’t go) but not $75k. Neither we nor or parents or siblings have ever been to Hawaii- I’m researching because DH said he’d like to go. I’m considering semester break+, roughly the last week-ish in January.

    1) What island(s) should we visit? Stuff we would like includes seeing a volcanic national park, Pearl Harbor, seeing a farm area that includes stuff not grown here or in the Midwest like pineapples and bananas, time on a beach with warm water suitable for a family with 4 children who are poor swimmers, scenic hiking. Probably no snorkeling due to the poor swimmer problem.
    2) I assume we’d need to rent a minivan for at least some of the trip.
    3) Looking at hotels and extra fees, it looks like a well-regarded AirBnB rental would be the best choice for our family. Any advice on those, including amenities and location(s) since I don’t know anyone personally who I know has used AirBnB?

  61. Someone will probably be along soon to tell you how Airbnb is ruining Hawaii. That can probably go to the politics page. Separate from that, I can share that I have stayed in probably 15 to 20 different Airbnb properties. All have been adequate, some have been quite nice. I really can’t think of a single horror story of my own to share. I got what was advertised, and I felt it was a good price. Once I forgot to check if it had a washer (most did do I stopped looking ) and was disappointed. Once I forgot to check and see if it had air-conditioning, again because most of the properties I was looking at did. Again, I got exactly what was advertised. Most of the time, I think it is the best choice for a family accommodation. I think it’s not – in heavily tourist areas where there is a very wide variety of condos and houses that are professionally managed, or if you really just need a one night place to sleep, like an airport hotel.

  62. 1) Oahu is where Pearl Harbor is so that’s an obvious choice. The Big Island (Hawaii Island) is where Volcanoes National Park is and it also has lots of agriculture. Beaches and hiking available on both Oahu and Big Island. Maui would also be a possible alternative to Big Island, with Haleakala serving as your volcanic national park – it certainly doesn’t have the same level of volcano action but I guess it depends how much you’re looking for.
    2) If you go to the Big Island, may I suggest this guy for your minivan rental:
    Rick Otani
    Hilo Auto Sales & Rentals
    808-825-2035 cell
    808-498-4463 office
    808-769-4648 fax
    He has a fleet of maybe a dozen or so 10 to 15 year old vehicles, clean and in good running condition, that he rents out. We rented one of his minivans the last time we were on the Big Island and were very happy with it.
    3) On Oahu whatever AirBnB you find is probably going to be an illegal rental. FWIW. I do understand the challenge of finding something suitable for a large family, but it’s worth knowing. The legal ones will list their license number. There are some apartment-type units available legally connected to some of the hotels – for instance this one would suit your family – it’s on the other side of the island from Waikiki which I am guessing would appeal (it’s not far from Polynesian Cultural Center which your kids would really enjoy). https://www.turtlebaycondos.com/vacation-rental-home.asp?PageDataID=148060&AD=1/25/2020&DD=1/29/2020 Or if you do want to be in Waikiki, some of the ones in the Ilikai might work for you – I think these would all be legal rentals: https://www.captaincookresorts.com/waikiki-vacation-rentals/?as__bedrooms=3

  63. Too many links, I guess, trying again with just one:

    1) Oahu is where Pearl Harbor is so that’s an obvious choice. The Big Island (Hawaii Island) is where Volcanoes National Park is and it also has lots of agriculture. Beaches and hiking available on both Oahu and Big Island. Maui would also be a possible alternative to Big Island, with Haleakala serving as your volcanic national park – it certainly doesn’t have the same level of volcano action but I guess it depends how much you’re looking for.
    2) If you go to the Big Island, may I suggest this guy for your minivan rental:
    Rick Otani
    Hilo Auto Sales & Rentals
    808-825-2035 cell
    808-498-4463 office
    808-769-4648 fax
    He has a fleet of maybe a dozen or so 10 to 15 year old vehicles, clean and in good running condition, that he rents out. We rented one of his minivans the last time we were on the Big Island and were very happy with it.
    3) On Oahu whatever AirBnB you find is probably going to be an illegal rental. FWIW. I do understand the challenge of finding something suitable for a large family, but it’s worth knowing. The legal ones will list their license number. There are some apartment-type units available legally connected to some of the hotels – for instance this one would suit your family – it’s on the other side of the island from Waikiki which I am guessing would appeal (it’s not far from Polynesian Cultural Center which your kids would really enjoy). https://www.turtlebaycondos.com/vacation-rental-home.asp?PageDataID=148060&AD=1/25/2020&DD=1/29/2020 Or if you do want to be in Waikiki, some of the ones in the Ilikai might work for you – I think these would all be legal rentals:

  64. HM, Thanks- I copied and pasted your message. If you still have a version with more links and would feel comfortable having an administrator forward it, they both have my e-mail address. The Polynesian Cultural Center is exactly the kind of thing we would like but that I wouldn’t know to ask about.

  65. BTW if your interest is in agriculture and volcanoes, consider staying in Hilo on the Big Island rather than on the Kona side where most of the hotels are — easy day trips to Volcanoes National Park and to all the Hamakua coast farms.

  66. WCE, it was just one additional link in the bounced email, but if you want to email me (my handle at gmail dot com) I’d be happy to discuss what you’re looking for and what might suite you in more depth than the rest of the group probably wants to hear!

  67. WCE, swimming is a basic safety skill. You have enough lead time for all your kids to proficient before you go, with swimming in warm surf & snorkeling as rewards for everyone, and possibly surfing lessons for the older ones.

  68. S&M, my children were unable to pass floating and the pool wouldn’t advance them without that skill. They can swim safely enough in a pool for basic safety but not in an ocean. They have my coordination and in dozens of hours of practice, I dd not learn to swim proficiently.

  69. Some people are just sinkers. True fact. From the time I was tiny, if you threw me in the water, I bobbed back up. Throw my husband or stepson in the water, and they plummet straight down. That’s why I love swimming and they dislike it. They can both swim well enough for safety, and for travel adventures, but they will never swim for exercise. The Red Cross even tell you that some people are sinkers in the Water Safety Instructor class.

  70. RMS, that makes me feel so much better. Swimming is a constantly exhausting struggle to stay afloat and exhausts me like no other exercise. It’s far easier to haul a 40 lb pack up the Continental Divide.

  71. I’ll give a big ditto to Ada on AirBNB (and also VRBO, although those seem to have more fees). We use them all the time (currently in the second of six we booked for this trip) and they’ve always been as advertised. Occasionally there are little nuisances – in our current one there’s a combo washer/dryer and the drying sucks. They did note that in the visitor guide and there’s a drying rack, but it’s still annoying. We probably still would have booked it because it meets all of our needs for a great price.

    As Ada said, just make sure you read the description closely and make sure the amenities you want are listed. If you have questions, email the host.

  72. WCE, I’ve always had enough body fat to float just fine. My son has never been able to float, even using all the tricks (knees bent, arms out & up, etc) but he enjoys putting on a snorkel mask & maybe the breathing tube and checking out what’s under water. If you’re going to try it with your kids, have them try the fins too—could be lots of fun for them to zoom through the water.

  73. My family of four are all sinkers.

    S&M – Speaking of time travel, I really want to stay at the new TWA hotel at JFK airport in New York:

    https://www.twahotel.com/rooms

    The first flight I remember taking was a flight that my parents, my brother, and I took to Athens (via Paris and Rome) on TWA circa 1975. I have very fond memories of it!

  74. Thanks for the travel tab suggestion. After putting all the random days off school on the calendar, I realize we’ll already struggle to cover those (due to lack of vacation days) so maybe Hawaii can’t be in the cards for next year. Once DD is on the same random-day-off-school schedule as her brothers in a couple years, perhaps life will get easier.

  75. I freed up HM’s comment with links from the spam folder.

    WCE — Your objectives for a Hawaii trip sound similar to mine when I was looking just before the latest volcanic eruption and temporary closing of Volcano NP. Oahu and the Big Island were our picks, consistent with HM’s suggestion. We looked at Volcano Village, right outside the NP, and found AirBnB-type lodging. That would seem to be a good location for exploring the park and the southeastern part of the island. At the time there were active lava flows to visit, but now I think there are only limited recent lava flows that you can hike or bike to. We would like to spend a few days on Waikiki Beach for that experience and also the Jurassic Park filming sites.

    Snorkel vests have always been routine equipment whenever we’ve gone out on outings, and in particular for young kids they can be kept slightly inflated to maintain buoyancy. Interesting about sinkers and floaters. I think I’m in between.

    “Speaking of time travel, I really want to stay at the new TWA hotel at JFK airport in New York:”

    I thought of Rhett when I learned of this hotel.

  76. “Someone will probably be along soon to tell you how Airbnb is ruining Hawaii. ”

    OK, I’ll bite.

    That’s a pretty controversial topic here. Most Airbnb type rentals here are illegal, so if you do that route, you’ll likely be in an illegal one unless you make an effort to find a legal one.

    On O’ahu, a couple of laws on this topic were just passed, and are waiting for the Mayor to decide whether to veto, sign, or allow to become law without his signature. Among other things, those will allow more legal BnBs, with on-site owners, but no additional TVUs.

    If you don’t make the effort to find a legal rental, don’t expect the neighbors to be welcoming.

  77. WCE – do you not have any easy non-school day care options? Around here, the Y operates before and after school care at almost every school. It wasn’t the perfect environment, but I felt zero guilt about using it for teacher workdays and such. I was way too protective of my vacation days to use them to cover all of those random days. I would think that would be even more so the case if only one of your kiddos has a day off from their normal activities. And, your PT schedule must not allow you to trade days around? Another observation about the things my workplace does that are pretty flexible. It won’t always work, but probably at least half the time, the employees can work a different week day than their normal schedule if they are PT.

  78. I believe WCE has shared that she went full-time, and now has full-time engineer stuff like travel to Asia.

    The curse of the upper-middle class; if you make enough money to travel to Hawaii, you can’t do it because you don’t have enough time off from work.

  79. Yesterday in the mail I received a booklet from NatGeo Expeditions – Private Jet (my zip code must make them think I’m their deal demo). Twenty four day, around the world trip on a 757 refitted to accommodate just 75 travelers, all for the bargain price $89,995 per person

  80. RMS – thank you, I knew she was traveling now, but missed that she was full time. That just makes my care questions for no-school day’s even more important. I have always been full time, and early release days used to drive me crazy!!

  81. There is no care for preschoolers on the private school preschool’s numerous random days off. A stay at home mom acquaintance with a same-age child watched DD for me on some of those this year but I can’t assume she’s always available. (and yes, I pay her)

  82. It is the curse. I remember complaining about vacation days when my kids were small, and thinking that the vacation distribution needed to be inverse. The older employees could couldn’t take all of their vacation, and I never had enough to cover kids sick days and holidays and take a weeklong vacation. I’m now in the former camp, leaving some vacation days unused at the end of every year. The ability to WFH has really changed how many of use our vacation days too.

  83. the Jurassic Park filming sites

    I think it was mostly filmed on Kauai, but they may have done some on Oahu in that valley that’s part of Kualoa Ranch that they’ve filmed various stuff in – I believe Kualoa Ranch runs a film site-themed tour in addition to their various horseback and ATV tours. (And there are general film tours that drive you around to all the different film sites on Oahu, as well as on Kauai and probably other islands too.)

  84. A dream vacation of mine would be biking some of the famous Tour de France routes, but I might have a hard time finding others to go with me.

    That being the case, my next choice would probably be a skiing and eating vacation in Japan. If limited strictly to 8 people, I’d probably invite a family we’ve become close with and traveled with, but I’d want to add at least one other family we’ve traveled and skied with.

    This is one place we actually considered renting. 5 bedrooms, each with attached bathroom, so for us and 2 other families, each couple could have a bedroom, and the kids could share the other 2 bedrooms, girls in one, boys in the other. It was only slightly more expensive than the hotel where we stayed.

    http://www.hakubamountainrentals.com/Luxury/Lodge.html

    I could see staying a week or so here, and the rest of the time in Tokyo. The $75k could easily be reached spending on dining and first class air.

  85. TVUs differ from BnBs in that the BnBs have live-in hosts, and TVUs turn the entire unit over to the temporary occupants.

  86. Finn, all the AirBnBs we stay in are complete units generally without the host on-site. If they are onsite it’s in a separate unit.

    I’m now in the former camp, leaving some vacation days unused at the end of every year.

    I’ve never understood people who do this. It’s part of your compensation – you wouldn’t give back part of a paycheck. I get 5 weeks now and I take every day of it.

  87. We’re still trying to figure out this year’s August vacation. The problem is, DS2 is trying to get a job working for one of the gourmet food vendors at the farmers market. He had an interview on Saturday, and has to talk to the store manager. Until we know yes or no, we can’t make plans. If he ends up working for the guy, he needs to be there on Saturdays since he would be running the table. We had allocated a week and a half, going over a weekend, for vacation and go someplace cool. But if he takes the job, I think we would go someplace like Lake George for a few days, come back so he could work the table, and then go someplace else for 5 or 6 days. We could finally go to Miami, but that is getting into hurricane season. Or maybe Toronto. Hopefully the kid will know soon

  88. Ugh, I accomplished something I needed to do today but it took way too long. My old phone, 4 years old, is dying and had become very unstable and almost unusable while we were travelling recently. So I did the upgrade – got a Pixel 3a in “purplish” – but it took 90 minutes in a chat session with a Verizon rep, plus a drive out to the Verizon store, to get it. There were no particular problems and I knew what I wanted. It was just slow. The reason I ended up with the rep is that I wanted to pay for the phone right away rather than financing, but it is $50 cheaper to finance, which I think is ridiculous. So I ended up putting down most of it, with a minimal monthly amount so I could get the $50 off. And then my credit card company declined the charge and I had to deal with fraud detection and then put the whole thing through again. Ugh! But now I have my phone.

  89. Finn, all the AirBnBs we stay in are complete units generally without the host on-site.

    AirBnB originally was focused on the bed and breakfast aka BnB model, where you’d rent out your spare room to travelers, but moved into complete unit rentals. In other words, AirBnB is not primarily a provider of bed and breakfast type lodgings, name notwithstanding.

  90. During our trip outside London we stayed at a chain called Premier Inn. It’s quite nice with meals on site in the restaurant attached. It worked great for our family group.
    The menu at each of their sites differs though we are using the same chain at each stop.

  91. AirBnB originally was focused on the bed and breakfast aka BnB model, where you’d rent out your spare room to travelers, but moved into complete unit rentals. In other words, AirBnB is not primarily a provider of bed and breakfast type lodgings, name notwithstanding.

    Right.

  92. I think we are going to take a long weekend to NYC toward the end of August. DS has been begging to visit NYC as he has never been, and it’s an easy flight. DH hasn’t been in years either. We could potentially go to Citi Field and the US Open too. I’ve been to old Shea, but not Citi, so that’d be another one for the list and our team happens to be in town too. I kind of want to see the 9/11 Memorial, but I also kind of don’t want to deal with the emotion. I’m not sure if it would be particularly disturbing for DS or not – it is no more real to him than WWII, really, since it was before he was born.

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