Get together with your travel companions and visualize a demand schedule

Milenomics teaches us the importance of a demand schedule. It reinforces the idea of having travel goals then accruing the best currencies to fund those goals.

Without a demand schedule we’re prone to accruing the most readily available points & miles rather than the ones that are best for the job.

Over the years I’ve found it tremendously helpful to have periodic family discussions around what trips we’d collectively like to take. I do this by creating thumbnail images of trips we’ve had in our minds then getting together to place them on a two year calendar.

Why do this?

In my house, I’m the family travel planner. I find that I can waste a lot of time planning for trips we’ll never take: Searching for award availability, scoping out lodging options, etc. By involving the whole family in the process I can filter out trips that are non-starters and stay focused on realizing the trips the whole family wants to take.

The rest of the family doesn’t suffer from existing points & miles bias like I might since they don’t know what currencies we have clanging around. They just know their preferences. Laying out the trips we want to take re-focuses my planning tremendously. I find it so much easier to pull the trigger and burn existing currencies when I have clarity on what trips we really want to take.

Seeing the schedule laid out also helps establish balance in sequential destinations. Balance between international trips and domestic, east coast/west coast, trips with extended family/just our family/just the two of us, etc.

My goal as a parent is to maximize the collective happiness of everyone in the family. This approach fits nicely into that mindset.

Tips: How to do this

  • Carve out some focused time where you’ll have undivided attention
  • If you’re more enthusiastic about this than others ask for it as a birthday or Father’s/Mother’s Day present
  • Enlist your kids help in collecting thumbnail images online and printing them out (we’re shaping tomorrow’s points prodigies after all)
  • Take a 2 year horizon to give yourself enough time to accrue points & miles before award booking windows open
  • Create “slots” for viable vacation windows depending on school/work scheduled breaks
  • It’s okay to have multiple potential trips land on the same slot and/or the same trip in multiple slots (it provides award flexibility)
  • 1:1 trips (just one parent and one child) can be great too – just make a note on the thumbnail saying who the trip is for
  • Take note of the trips that didn’t get assigned a slot and revisit those objections in a couple years (kids can change quickly)
  • Take a picture when you’re done so you refer back to it while planning
  • It’s also fun to look back on how successful you were in realized your vacation goals
When you’re done focus on earning the points & miles needed to make your travel a reality

Bottom line

Invariably when you’re on a trip and challenges arise it’s good to recall that you’re on a trip that everyone was on board for at least at one point in time. Kids grow up so quickly: You only get so many vacations with them.

Whether you’re planning for yourself, a couple, or a family – take time to discuss what you really want to do. Then get out there and earn the points & miles to make those trips happen.

Related reading: Here’s how Sam went about deriving his demand schedule a couple years ago

Question of the day: What tips would you share for creating a demand schedule?

– Written by Robert Dwyer, contributor at Milenomics. Connect with me on Twitter @RobertDwyer

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4 thoughts on “Visualizing a Family Demand Schedule

  1. What a cool idea! I’ve never thought to do something like this but I think it’s a great way to bring the kids into the decision-making process too. As the trip approaches, I’ve found that it helps to also have everyone make a personal “TOP 3” list for the trip–forces them to research a bit.

    I was never disciplined enough to plan 2 years out…seems like 8 months would be pushing it for me! (Besides, our school district only publishes the breaks one year out.) This often backed me into a corner when winter and spring break trip plans came up because my points became pretty much worthless during those peak times. Thank goodness for Alaska 2-4-1 tickets!

    Also, I heartily second your idea of 1 parent + 1 kid trips. My son and I went to England in 2016 during spring break and it was a blast, with a lot of soccer matches, hiking, and eating when and where we want (without requiring inputs from the ladies in our family!).

  2. My planning:
    1.Wow, that’s a cheap ticket to X.
    Talk to spouse and it’s a no.

    Weeks later
    2.Wow, that’s a cheap ticket to Y.
    Talk to spouse and it’s a no.

    Weeks later
    3.Wow, that’s a cheap ticket to Z.
    Talk to spouse and it’s a whatever.

    4. Buy ticket for all family members

    5. 6 months later, spouse says “don’t want to go”

    6. I go alone with the kids.

    and sometimes we all go.

  3. Great idea with the calendar and thumbnails, I already do a stripped down version of this, I ask my wife for a shortlist a year 1.5-2 years out and reconcile that with my shortlist, we generally overlap enough to make an easy decision. She’s a teacher so we’re mostly stuck taking longer trips in the summer and a shorter trip over spring break.

    How old are your kids and what kind of input do you get from them? How do you go about getting them to give you the travel ideas they want? My kids are almost 4, so probably not quite there yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

    • Sounds like you’ve got a very nice situation. Congrats on that!

      I think you’re entering a really good age for travel with kids. At 4 not needing all the baby gear and they can roll their own suitcase through the airport – so nice.

      My kids are 10 and 13 now. I probably started this type of planning 2 or 3 years ago. Mostly it’s been dealing with objections to things like motion sickness on boats and stuff like that.

      I always try to have one aspect of the trip that everyone has some enthusiasm for. Something for us and something for them, right?

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