All it took was a casual comment from my husband Jason earlier this year when we were talking about how we wanted to use our vacation time from work this year. He said, "I'd like to take a trip to Europe with the kids". I smiled and replied that I would begin to look for 'a deal' so cautioned him to keep an open mind on where we would go and exactly when. We knew in general that we would need to accommodate the kids school schedules as they are getting older and missing a few days of school is just something kids today don't want to do anymore. It's too hard to make up the work.
So I watched the deal sites and subscribed to a few travel deal emails and one day...I saw one on Travelzoo (http://www.travelzoo.com) that caught my eye. It was for a 9 night trip to Italy (4 nights Rome, 3 nights Florence, and 2 nights in Venice) and included airfare, hotel, and train connections to each city. Jason and I reviewed the particulars, decided on the week of Thanksgiving, and had a family meeting with our two children (now ages 12 and 15) to ensure that they would consider this their Hannukah/Christmas presents for this year. They didn't hesitate! The night we booked it in February, Jason and I hovered over the 'submit' payment button for a few seconds. This was the first time either of us had booked a package like this without talking to a human being. We'll let you know if it was a good idea.